for the latest in health, wellness and nutrition

Month: May 2016

Going Ketogenic? Benefits and Risks You Should Know

Going Ketogenic? Benefits and Risks You Should Know

If you’ve spent much time around anyone following an Atkins plan or in strict Paleo circles, you may have heard the terms ‘ketosis’ or ‘ketogenic’. These terms refer – broadly – to a metabolism fueled by fat, as opposed to one fueled by glucose from […]

How to Adapt Healthy Recipes for the Grill

How to Adapt Healthy Recipes for the Grill

It’s nearly summer, that hallowed time of year when the grills, tongs and barbecue aprons come out (no parka required). If the thought of cooking al fresco conjures up images of burgers and brats (and your healthy sensibilities start panicking), we have good news: the […]

Plant Power! Tips for Starting Your Vegetarian Diet

Plant Power! Tips for Starting Your Vegetarian Diet

Rachel Meltzer Warren, MS, RDN, is New York area-based nutritionist and author of The Smart Girl’s Guide to Going Vegetarian and the upcoming A Teen’s Guide to Gut Health.

It seems like every day there is another word to describe a plant-based diet of some form or another. Besides vegan (a person who eats no animal products) and lacto-ovo (a person who eats no meat, but does consume dairy and eggs, terms like flexitarian, reducetarian, pescetarian, pegan (yes, paleo/vegan) are creeping into our vocabularies

It’s no surprise when you consider the number of people cutting down on meat in some form. While only 3.2% of Americans say they follow a vegetarian diet, according to research from Harris Interactive and Vegetarian Times, another 10% say their diet is “vegetarian inclined;” 5.2% say they’re interested in following a vegetarian diet in the future.

Are you one of those people making the shift to a more plant-based diet? It can seem simple enough to transition to meat-less (or less-meat) eating. But to really thrive as a plant-based eater, it’s about more than just skipping the meat.  

Here are 5 vegetarian diet tips to get you started:

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Prioritize protein.

It’s super easy to be a vegetarian by eating the same old meals sans meat. But doing so leaves a little protein-sized hole on your plate. In addition to helping you repair and build muscle, protein helps you feel satiated, or pleasantly full. If you make your special spaghetti and meatballs and just leave out the meatballs, you’re left with a plate of carbs—you’ll fill up your belly in the short term, but that meal will not tide you over until the next.

Instead, look for a good source of plant-based protein to add to that dish. A side of white beans cooked in garlic and oil, crumbled tempeh added to make a faux meat sauce, or black-bean balls are all good ways to balance out your plate. You can also add some cheese or an egg if you’re lacto-ovo.

Be prepared.

When you’re home, you get to control what foods are available. But when you’re on the go, you don’t know what to expect. That’s why I always recommend my vegetarian clients keep a couple of protein rescue packs—bags of protein-containing snacks or meal add-ons—on them for whenever the need arises.

A small bag of almonds, roasted chickpeas, or my new favorite, shelled watermelon seeds all make good snacks on their own, but they can also turn a side salad (when that’s all you can find on the menu to order) into a more satisfying meal. 

Try new foods.

Despite popular belief, you do not have to eat tofu to be vegetarian. But if you’ve tried it in the past and didn’t like it, maybe give it another shot—prepared well, it can be pretty delicious. And other foods like tempeh (an Indonesian fermented soybean product that has a grainy texture and nutty flavor) and seitan (pure wheat gluten, often used as “mock chicken” or “mock duck” in Asian restaurants) can also be great additions to your diet.

Know that vegetarian does not equal healthy.

A vegetarian diet can be a nutritious one, linked with decreased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and more. But this can depend greatly on what type of vegetarian you are. After all, dill pickle-flavored potato chips, Swedish Fish, and Sour Patch Kids are completely vegan foods. So are plain bagels the size of your head.

Go for balance—aim to fill half of your plate with produce, ¼ with protein, and ¼ with whole grains, and you’ll be just fine. The occasional snack won’t hurt you either—just don’t be fooled into thinking “no animals harmed” = nutritious.

Have fun!

Whether you’re going veg because you want to or because your doctor told you to (or you watched Food Inc and now feel really guilty eating meat), bringing a sense of playfulness and excitement to the plate will help you stick with it.

Sick of basic salads? Try roasting some veggies, throwing them on top of quinoa, and topping it all with a lemon-tahini sauce instead (it’s not much more work but it has a lot of new flavors). And try  making veggie “bacon” out of your favorite ingredient (eggplant, shiitake mushroom, coconut, tempeh…)—they don’t exactly replicate the real thing, but they do taste pretty fantastic and will help you get creative in the kitchen.  

Go vegetarian the easy way. Get $10 off custom meal plans from PlateJoy to make healthy eating easy!

Our #1 Most-Requested Feature: PlateJoy Grocery Delivery Is Here, via Instacart

Our #1 Most-Requested Feature: PlateJoy Grocery Delivery Is Here, via Instacart

Do you ever wish your personal nutritionist and fairy godmother could go grocery shopping for you? Today, we’re waving our magic wand to make it happen. We’re excited to announce same-day grocery delivery via PlateJoy + Instacart, to make healthy eating effortless. Along with your […]

Get the Recipe: Homemade Chocolate Almond Butter Quesadillas

Get the Recipe: Homemade Chocolate Almond Butter Quesadillas

When I was a kid at Halloween, there was one candy that always reigned supreme: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. I would trade candy with my younger brothers to accumulate as many peanut butter cups as possible, and would hoard them so they’d last at least […]