Plant-based eating has gained momentum and unsurprisingly it’s one of the top health and wellness trends for 2020. Not only is a plant-based diet good for your health, it’s good for the planet!
Health Canada’s 2019 Food Guide recommends the majority of what we eat should be plant based. There’s lots of health benefits of a plant-based diet. From lower blood pressure and obesity rates, to reduced risk of heart disease, you can see why experts are encouraging us to go plant-based in 2020.
Whether you go vegetarian, vegan, or choose a ‘flexitarian’ approach, adding more plant-based staples to your pantry is a great choice.
One of the healthiest and most affordable ways to enjoy plant-based eating is to add legumes. Legumes include chick peas, kidney beans, split peas, and lentils.
They’re high in fibre, an excellent source of carbs, and are low on the glycemic index. They’re also high in protein and B vitamins.
From sesame to chia to hemp to flax, seeds are a great source of fiber and healthy fats. You can make them into puddings and jams or add to your smoothies! Seeds help reduce blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure.
Healthy fats are so important, and nut butters are key! They contain lots of Vitamin E, an antioxidant that supports healthy skin, nails and hair. Nut butters will keep you full longer and are a great addition to smoothies, on thinly sliced apples, or drizzled on a warm bowl of oatmeal.
Quinoa is a complete protein that can be cooked in 15 minutes or less and is great as a side dish or a stand-alone meal. You can find it everywhere: from quinoa pasta, granola, and quinoa snacks (for babies, kids and grown-ups) – this protein-powerhouse is a plant-based essential.
It’s gluten-free, high in protein, and one of the few plant foods that contain enough amounts of all nine essential amino acids.
Protein pasta are taking the market by storm. Whether made of lentils, chickpeas, soybeans, or green peas, these pastas cook up as easily as traditional pastas but are much healthier (and many are gluten-free!).
When start a plant-based journey you must make a choice: is dairy in or out?
If you go dairy-free, reach for plant-based milks like coconut, almond, or soy. Each milk can be used in different ways – and be sure to check the labels for sugar content. Having dairy-free staples in your pantry is a great way to keep your family plant-based!
One of the healthiest staples for your plant-based pantry will be tomatoes, a major dietary source of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. It’s a great source of Vitamin C, potassium, folate, and Vitamin K.
Cauliflower became all the rage in health circles in 2019 – from cauliflower rice to pizza crust, it is now popping up in snacks and pastas and is fast becoming a mainstay in the plant-based diet. Cauliflower is high in fibre, low carb, and high in folate, Vitamin C, K and B6, as well as potassium and magnesium.
Healthy fats are an essential staple for any plant-based diet. Olive oil, avocado oil, and hemp seed oil are not only good for cooking at lower heats, but are wonderful for salad dressings and drizzled on top of meals.
Protein powders should be a staple in any plant-based house. Vegan protein powders made from various sources will provide the essential amino acids as you move to a plant-based diet!
Are you making the switch to a plant-based diet in 2020?
Erin Phelan, MA, is a certified fitness and health practitioner with over 20 years in the fitness and health industry. Erin teaches for Equinox Fitness, and is a proud work-at-home mom to Lily, 11 and Teague, 8.