Certified Nutritional Health Counselor, Sara Siskind has put together some of her favorite plant-based, whole foods that she makes sure to include in her eating routine.
Leafy Greens such as collard greens, bok choy, swiss chard, kale and mustard greens are one of the most nutrient dense foods containing the least amount of calories. Whether you are looking to watch your weight, prevent or reverse disease, improve the strength of your bones and teeth or just get a natural healthy glow, eating leafy greens on a daily basis is a must. Leafy greens contain important minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin K, and vitamins B1 and B2 and fiber. I like to put them in my salads, sandwiches, and even sautéed and served in healthy pasta dishes!
Whole grains such as quinoa, buckwheat, wild rice, bulgur and millet offer a variety of health benefits, unlike refined grains which are processed and stripped of valuable nutrients. They contain whole grain kernels that consist of three parts: the germ, bran and endosperm; each part is essential containing fiber, B vitamins, iron, copper, zinc, magnesium, antioxidants, phytochemicals, healthy fats, carbohydrates and protein. One of my dishes is a rice bowl, start with wild rice, and load up on the greens and plant-based proteins!
Beans and Legumes
Beans and legumes are an excellent source of dietary fiber, protein, B vitamins, folate, and an assortment of other vitamin and minerals. Beans are known to help keep the digestive track running smoothly because they contain soluble and insoluble fiber. First they slow down digestion to give you a full feeling and then they help to prevent constipation. Beans are a wonderful substitute for animal protein. They can help lower blood sugar levels and cholesterol and maintain a healthy gut. Look for chickpeas, lentils, peas and white beans and aim for ½ a cup daily. I love making zoodles and loading them with chickpeas and other greens for a healthy dinner option.
When nuts, such as pistachios, are eaten on a regular basis, they help lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol thereby lowering the risk of heart disease. Pistachios provide the winning combination of heart healthy fats, protein and fiber which are essential to good nutrition and health. One serving of pistachios has as much potassium as an orange making it a nutritious choice to add to your daily diet. My favorite pistachio snack is Setton Farms’ Pistachio + Plum Chewy Bites. They make it easy to get the daily benefits of pistachios on the go, plus the plums make them a tad sweet to satisfy my sweet tooth!
Not all fats are created equal! Healthy fats are those that contain polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, are found in plants, and actually do the body good. They are instrumental in keeping your weight under control, lowering your bad cholesterol (LDL), preventing stroke and heart disease, lowering your blood pressure and even boosting your mood. Healthy fats are found in nuts, seeds, avocados, cacao, olives, and plant based oils and are rich in omega 3s. Although these healthy fats are essential for the body, it’s important to keep your portions in control because they can also be calorie dense. Drizzle some olive or avocado oil on your salad to get a healthy dose of fats.