Every week I have busy, active clients asking me to help them transition into a more plant-based eating style. Below are the four secrets I share with my clients who want to eat more veggie-friendly fare to fuel their fast-paced, fitness-focused lifestyle.
1) Reportion Your Plate. Downsize your meat and grain portions while pumping up the produce. Aim to have 25 percent of your plate meat/poultry/fish, 25 percent whole grains (such as brown rice or whole grain pasta) and 50 percent veggies. 2) Reinvent Old Favorites. Take your current favorite recipes and swap out the meat for fiber and protein-rich beans. For example, swap black beans for some of the steak in a taco or swap white beans for some of the ground turkey in pasta sauce. For every 1 ounce of meat substitute 1/4 cup beans instead. 3) Refresh Your Recipe Repertoire. Challenge yourself to try a new vegetarian recipe each week. Ask friends for their favorites or look through vegetarian magazines, cookbooks and websites for one that catches your eye.
Carbohydrates are critical before exercise since they digest quickly for fast energy to fuel a hard workout. Carbohydrates are primarily found in fruits, whole grains, dairy and beans. Here are a few quick pre-workout snacks to get your body revved up: • Piece of fruit, such as a banana, apple, pear or orange. • Tart cherry trail mix: Toss tart dried cherries, your favorite cold cereal and walnuts. • Almond butter and apricot jam crackers: Spread almond butter on whole grain crackers and top with 100 percent apricot jam. • Green banana smoothie: Blend 1 cup low-fat milk or plant milk, 1 banana, 1 cup spinach, 1/2 cup ice and 2 teaspoons honey until smooth.
After a sweat session the sweet spot for muscle recovery is a combo of protein and carbohydrates. Try these perfectly balanced, plant-based snacks to repair and replenish muscles after exercise: • Black bean salsa and chips: Mix 8 tablespoons canned black beans (rinsed and drained) with 4 tablespoons salsa. Serve with 12 tortilla chips. (9g protein, 46g carbohydrate) • Hummus, crackers and veggies: Serve 6 tablespoons hummus with 6 whole grain crackers and 1 cup veggies such as cucumbers, carrots or peapods. (11g protein, 36g carbohydrate) • Tart cherry smoothie: Blend 1 cup low-fat milk or plant milk with 1/2 cup frozen tart cherries and 2 teaspoons of honey. (9g protein, 32g carbohydrate) Top Tip: Research suggests tart cherries may actually decrease muscle inflammation and soreness after exercise. More recipes at www.choosecherries.com. • Fruit Parfait: Serve plain Greek 2% yogurt (1/2 cup) with chopped fruit (1 cup) (11g protein, 22g carbohydrate) • Express cheese plate: Enjoy string cheese (2 pieces) and one pear (17g protein, 30g carbohydrate) • PB&B: Spread natural peanut butter (2 Tablespoons) on a banana (8g protein, 34g carbohydrate)
1) Beans & lentils: Meet your protein, iron and zinc needs by including beans and lentils daily. The goal is to eat about 5 cups per week. Note: Use canned (rinsed & drained) for optimal convenience. 2) Milk or plant milk: Meet your calcium and vitamin D needs by including milk and/or fortified plant milk such as almond, coconut or soymilk everyday. The goal is to get about 16 ounces per day. You can also get calcium from kale, collard greens and broccoli and vitamin D from vitamin D-enhanced mushrooms. 3) Walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds: If you don't eat 12 ounces of fish each week, work to meet your omega-3 fat needs by including walnuts, ground flaxseeds and/or chia seeds into your diet daily. The goal is to get about 2 tablespoons per day. 4) Fortified nutritional yeast or B12 supplement: If you don't eat many animal products, aim to get your B12 from fortified nutritional yeast (tastes similar to parmesan cheese) or by taking a supplement. The goal is to get about 6mcg of B12 daily.
Follow Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, CSSD, LDN on Twitter: www.twitter.com/djblatner