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4 Ways to Follow a More Plant-Based Meal Plan

 

Your coworker gave up meat, your neighbor has gone vegetarian and now your doctor’s suggesting you follow suit to lower your weight and blood pressure and to possibly prevent chronic diseases. Clearly, plant-based diets are soaring in popularity among Americans.

A plant-based diet has many health benefits and can be simple to start to incorporate. Even if you aren’t quite ready to go vegetarian or vegan, you can still reap the many health benefits of a plant-based eating plan by making just a few small changes.

1. Go veggie at breakfast. Skip the meat and pile your plate with fruits and/or veggies. Many people completely skip fruits or veggies in the morning. Make it your goal to include at least a 1/2 cup to 1 cup serving of fruits or veggies at breakfast. 

2. Go meatless one night a week. Maybe you choose Monday and join the Meatless Monday campaign, or some other night of the week. Need some ideas for recipes, visit the Vegan Bikini Doc or go to www.meatlessmonday.com.  

 3. Shop for plants first. Hit the produce and grain section first and plan your meals around the plant-based foods on your plate instead of the meat.  4. Keep it simple. Non-meat meal options don’t have to be complicated or involve a new recipe. Replace meat in your good old tried and true chili with beans instead and add a veggie. Making quesadillas? Make them veggie based, think mushrooms, spinach, and black beans with cheese instead of ground beef or chicken. Other menu options that are perfect for skipping the meat include pasta primavera, veggie pizza, and veggie lasagna. 

 

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Meatless Monday: Carolina Pulled “Pork” BBQ Sandwiches

Memorial Day is the unofficial American start of the summer. Though we traditionally associate this long, celebratory weekend with cookouts and barbecues there are also plenty of plant-based options for vegans to enjoy.

Feed your Memorial Day cravings without the meat, with today’s Meatless Monday recipe!

Carolina Pulled “Pork” BBQ Sandwiches 

Ingredients:

  • 1 can jackfruit in brine, drained and rinsed well with the core removed (as shown below)
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Gluten free sandwich bread or rolls   

For the dry rub:

  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground mustard
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • pinch garlic powder
  • pinch onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt

For the wet sauce:

  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp canola 
  • 1/2 tsp tamarind paste
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 2 tsp maple syrup

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add onion to a skillet over medium low and heat until it is caramelized and browned. Add garlic for the last minute or so, until fragrant.
  2. Mix together dry rub spices and toss jackfruit pieces in mixture until coated. Add to a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat for about five minutes to toast spices.
  3. Mix together wet sauce ingredients and add to saucepan, along with onion and garlic. Simmer jackfruit in sauce for 15-30 minutes until well heated and softened. Using a fork, shred the jackfruit pieces into small stringy bits.                 
  4. Spread mixture evenly on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes until slightly dried out and toughened.
  5. Divide evenly amongst your bread or rolls and serve! (Yield: 4 sandwiches)

  

Make sure you get “young green jackfruit in brine” NOT “jackfruit in syrup.”

Adapted from: Chowvegan.com

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    What do Vegans Eat?

    About the Vegan Diet… 

     
    A vegan diet is one that consists of only plant-derived foods. Vegans do not use or consume any animals or animal products including flesh (land or sea animals), milk, eggs, or honey.

    People have their own reasons for becoming a vegan which could be health reasons, their personal belief to promote a more sustainable planet, and/or for ethical reasons such as avoiding animal-produce because of how inhumane animals are treated in factory farms. 

    Veganism might cause a few raised eyebrows or doubts from others because those who are non-vegan are frequently puzzled and want to know..What do vegans eat?

    The answer to the question of “what do vegans eat?” is a simple one. There are several alternatives to animal-products and by-products which are able to provide the necessary nutrients. This post will provide you healthy vegan food sources that are good for protein, fat, calcium, and iron.

    Protein   
    Because animal-based foods are high in protein, it’s a common misconception that vegans don’t get enough of it. In fact, vegans can get all the protein they need from lentils, tempeh, tofu, beans, nuts, seeds, and even vegetables.

    Healthy Fats 

    Although people have the preconceived notion that all fat is bad, it isn’t. Fat is an important nutrient for our bodies because it allows the body to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, and K, it also promotes good brain functioning, supports good health, protects the body, and allows your body to have energy. With the increase in processed food, many people automatically associate fat as bad but the fats that are considered “bad” for the body are called saturated fats, trans-fat and other derivatives.

    However there are fats, called unsaturated fats, which occur naturally. These are found in foods such as avocados and coconuts. It is important for vegans to incorporate these in their meals but not all the time since, as the saying goes, “too much of anything can be bad.”

    Calcium  
    We are all aware that calcium is important for bone growth as well as making sure that the teeth are strong. In general, calcium is building block of the skeletal system and it also plays important roles in blood clotting, nerve function, muscle contraction and cell signaling. 

    There is a common perception that calcium can only be found in dairy milk and other animal-based products, this is not correct. Vegans and those who consume mostly plant-based diets can find excellent sources of calcium by eating food such as: such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, sweet potato, chickpeas, leafy green vegetables-(kale, collards), okra, figs, oranges, almonds, pistachio nuts, hazelnuts, flaxseed, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, soybeans, navy beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, lentils, tempeh, and many more.

    Iron

    Iron is a very important nutrient because it is important in helping red blood cells transport oxygen to the different cells in the body. Whether vegan or non-vegan, there are a lot of sources for iron yet iron deficiency is very common in North America. I diagnose (and treat) iron deficiency in several patients (non-vegan) on a daily basis!  

    Among the great sources of iron are legumes (lentils, soybeans, tofu, tempeh, Lima beans), grains (quinoa, brown rice, fortified cereals), nuts and seeds (pumpkin sunflower, cashews, and unhulled sesame seeds), vegetables (Swiss chard, collard greens), blackstrap molasses, and prune juice. It is also highly suggested when eating iron-rich meals, vitamin C rich foods should also be a part because it allows better absorption and caffeinated drinks such as tea and coffee should be avoided one or two hours before and after meals.

    References:

    http://vegankit.com/eat#about
    http://www.nomeatathlete.com/iron-for-vegetarians/

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    Meatless Monday: Vegan Mozzarella Cheese Sticks

    This recipe is perfect for an appetizer when you want to show off in the kitchen, or just to enjoy as a snack any time. And these nondairy Mozzarella cheese sticks taste so good that I guarantee you won’t even believe their vegan! 

    Ingredients

    Instructions

    1. Cut the block of vegan mozzarella into stick shapes.
    2. Put ¼ cup of the flour in one shallow bowl. In a second bowl, create the batter by combining the remaining flour, cornmeal, cornstarch, salt and garlic powder. The consistency should be like pancake batter. If it is too thick, add more water. If it’s too thin, add more flour. In a third shallow dish, combine the breadcrumbs, spices and the grated parmesan to create the breading.
    3. Roll the cheese sticks in the flour. Shake off the excess and dip them into the batter. Shake off the excess batter and cover the sticks in the breading. Lay the mozzarella sticks on a baking sheet and put them in the freezer for 30 minutes.
    4. Heat about 3 inches of oil in a large pot to 350 degrees. Fry the mozzarella sticks, about 4 at a time, for about 5 minutes until they are golden brown and you see the cheese starting to ooze out. Turn them halfway through to make sure both sides get browned. Place on a cooling rack so they stay crisp. Serve while hot with a simple marinara sauce. 
    5. Enjoy!  

    Recipe from onegresnplanet.org


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    June 2015: My Second Oxygen Magazine Feature “In the Spotlight”

    I recently had an interview with Diane Hart, the Editor-in-Chief of Oxygen Magazine. My interview is published in the June 2015 Edition of Oxygen Magazine. I received my monthly subscription in the mail yesterday. 

      I hope you’ll pick up a copy of the June 2015 Oxygen Magazine when it arrives on the magazine shelves in stores!

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    Why Vegan?

    People choose to be vegan for health, environmental, and/or ethical reasons. Many vegans choose this lifestyle to promote a more humane and caring world. They know they are not perfect, but believe they have a responsibility to try to do their best, while not being judgmental of others. 

    For the Animals 

    Many people don’t know what being a vegan means, they don’t know what a vegan eats, nor do they know about the cruelties of factory farmingThe factory farming industry strives to maximize output while minimizing costs—always at the animals’ expense. Many people aren’t aware that the animals they eat were maimed and slaughtered with no anesthesia or that baby chicks are being ground alive. They aren’t aware that chickens are in cramped cages – living in their own waste, hormones, steroids and antibiotics being pumped into these barely alive, tortured animals all to drive up profit.   

    For your Health 

     

    Research shows that individuals who eliminate red meat, pork, chicken, fish, and dairy products from their diet, have less body fat. They also tend to have lower rates of heart disease, diabetes and lower levels of cholesterol and blood pressure.
    As a medical doctor, I consider adopting a plant-based diet to be one of the most important things someone can do to prevent the leading causes of disease.
    Also, more and more people are turning to a vegan diet for theses other health benefits: increased energy, younger looking skin, and memory improvement.

    For the Environment 
    The production of meat and other animal products places a heavy burden on the environment – from crops and water required to feed the animals, to the transport and other processes involved from farm to fork.  Also, the vast amounts of grain feed required for meat production is a significant contributor to deforestation, habitat loss and species extinction. 
      
    More and more people are going vegan because of the benefits to their health, the planet, and animals. Notable figures from Jessica Chastain, Ellen DeGeneres, and Ariana Grande to Woody Harrelson, Al Gore, Russell Simmons, and Cory Booker have dropped meat and dairy from their diets, and are looking fitter and healthier than ever!   

    Here are a few other facts: 

     

    1. Vegans, on average, are thinner and healthier than their meat-eating counterparts.
    2. Vegans save more than 100 animals a year from abuse
    3. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, vegetarians have lower rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer.
    4. Going vegan has never been easier. You can find a vegan burger at Johnny Rockets or Denny’s. Enjoy a fresco” bean burrito at Taco Bell, or dine on hearty tofu Sofritas at Chipotle, and groccery stores and supermarkets across the country carry everything from vegan crispy chicken and golden fish-free filets to almond milk, dairy-free cheese, rich coconut-milk ice cream, and other animal-friendly groceries to satisfy every taste.
    5. Contrary to popular belief, going vegan does not mean severely restricting your diet, or spending tons of money on every meal. When practiced through well-informed decisions, veganism benefits your health, saves animals from suffering inhumane deaths and dramatically decreases one’s impact on the planet. 
    Food for Thought:

    • Being vegan isn’t about being perfect or pure, it’s about reducing suffering by showing compassion for all life!
    • A well-balanced vegan diet is not only good for your healthy, but also the health of the planet! But remember, the key to a nutritionally sound vegan diet is variety. A healthy and varied vegan diet includes fruits, vegetables, plenty of leafy greens, whole grain products, nuts, seeds, and legumes.   

    References
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/05/vegetarians-slimmer-meat-eaters-weight_n_4039441.html 

    http://animaldeathcount.webnode.com/all-animals-2011/

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19562864






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    My 2nd Interview as The 2015 “Sexiest Vegan Next Door” on Fox 46: Good Day Charlotte

    On Saturday, May 9th I had the privilege of being invited back to Fox 46: Good Day Charlotte to talk about winning PETA’s “Sexiest female Vegan Next Door” contest.  

    I was asked to make a plant-based smoothie that I would drink. So, I chose to make a High Protein Tropical Smoothie

     
    Here is a link to the video clip from the interview! Paul & I had great chemistry so this interview was really fun!