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11 Tips For Adding More Plants into Your Diet
Anyone else remember this line from Bambi: “Eating greens is a special treat, it gives long ears and great big feet.”? Well, I don’t want the long ears and great big feet but I am eating more greens so we’ll see what happens . . .
Surprisingly I haven’t shared about this at all online but last year was a hard one for me physically.
Long story very short, after a number of doctor, specialist appointments and a colonoscopy I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in September. I’ll probably write out the whole story one of these days, for now the short version will do.
Since September I’ve been on a few different medications and have been experimenting with my diet to see what works best for my body.
I think I lived on crackers and cheese as a child. And cheese pizza. And pasta with cheese. And bread with cheese. Mmmmm.
I remember hearing about the gluten free diet years ago and thinking people were nuts to willingly give up all the gluteny goodness. Then, four years ago, Jared was diagnosed with Celiac disease and as he completely eliminated gluten my gluten consumption went way down. And after my health went downhill last year and through some trial and error I have slowly come to realize that completely eliminating dairy from my diet makes me feel way better.
So, much less gluten and no more cheese.
I figured I had two options: I could either get depressed and whine about it or I could learn everything I could about the food that I can actually eat. Since whining is pointless (though I may have still done it a little) and even if I did get all down about my inability to eat dairy at the end of the day I’d still have to eat something so I’ve been learning all I can about food.
And so I did what I always do when I want to learn about anything: search on Google and Pinterest and request every single book I can from the library.
With gluten mostly cut out and dairy completely cut out I’ve gone to a very plant based diet. Me, the girl who used to often end the day wondering if I’d eaten a single fruit or vegetable. Me, the girl who doesn’t like salad.
I have so much more to share about this and I’d really like to share this process of healing my gut and eating a healthier diet, this is definitely a topic I will be continuing to share about. Today I just wanted to share a couple of tips on how to add more plants into your diet, even if you are almost completely plant adverse like I was.
Whether you are moving towards a more plant based diet for current health reasons or just want to add more veggies into your regular diet I hope these tips will help you.
11 TIPS FOR ADDING MORE PLANTS INTO YOUR DIET
#1 FIND SOME GOOD COOKBOOKS
One of the first things I did was request (almost) all the cookbooks from my library. Because of my dietary restrictions I actually found that vegan cookbooks were the most helpful. After looking through so many cookbooks I can tell you there is quite the range in vegan cooking! There are the “fancier” cookbooks made from 90% of ingredients I have never heard of, there are vegan cookbooks that are trying to be regular cookbooks by adding in a bunch of fake meat in the recipes and then there are the good vegan cookbooks. Personally, my favorites so far are: The Oh She Glows Cookbook, But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan, Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking and N’ice Cream.
#2 CHOP THEM
I know a lot of my plant food aversions have to do with texture issues so I find for me if I chop things really fine so they can hide in my food it helps. My method is to generally start with chopping veggies really small until I get used to the flavor and then gradually increasing the size. I find this works so well for my kids as well.
#3 BLEND THEM
I am thisclose to buying a Vitamix, I’ve been wanting one for years and know that I will use it, I’m just waiting for it to go on sale. In the meantime, I have a decent blender that I use a lot. I find smoothies are a great place to hide extra fruits and veggies to bump up my intake each day.
UPDATE: I got a Vitamix and love it!
#4 HIDE THEM
Finding ways to hide veggies and beans in my food has been a bit of a game for me. One of my favorite ways to do this is by mashing cauliflower right in with my mashed potatoes. Because it is the same color and there is hardly any cauliflower taste most people would never guess they are in there and yet you are sneaking in a lot of vitamin C, omega 3’s and other good vitamins and minerals as well.
#5 HAVE THEM AVAILABLE AND READY TO EAT
I guess I should have started with this, but in order to increase your plant intake make sure you have your kitchen stocked! You’ll eat even more plants if you have them washed and chopped and ready to grab for a quick snack.
#6 SUBSTITUTE BEANS FOR MEAT
One way to increase your intake of beans is to simply replace them for meat! If the idea of this is too drastic for you you could slowly increase the beans in a dish while decreasing the meat until you are solely using beans.
#7 PLAN YOUR MEALS AND SNACKS
I always eat healthier when I have an idea of what I am going to be eating/making. If I start looking for a snack or something to make for dinner when I’m already hungry it will end up being something quick and definitely less healthy than if I had a plan. We currently have a minimalist meal plan that has been working so well, I’m hoping to share it next week.
#8 GO SLOW
Start by adding just one plant based item to each meal. Don’t try to go on a complete plant diet in one swoop, just slowly add more in over time.
#9 EAT OFTEN
If you are eating more plants you’ll probably feel hungry often because they don’t stay in your system for a long time, just plan to have healthy snacks throughout the day and you’ll be set.
#10 TRY NEW FOODS
Every time we go buy groceries we let the kids pick one or two new foods, or something we’ve maybe tried before but haven’t had for awhile. The grocery store we go to has quite a few ethnic foods from different countries and we’ve been able to discover a number of foods that they either like or are on the fence about and are willing to eat a little bit of. This isn’t just for the kids, this is for me too. It wasn’t until I moved out from my parent’s house at the age of 18 that I found out I like broccoli, because I finally tried it for the first time. Who knows what kind of food is out there that you may like!
#11 KEEP IT SIMPLE
Your meals and snacks do no need to be complicated, personally I prefer most veggies raw and plain, it makes for quick snacks or a side to dinner. A lot of days for lunch my plate will just be raw fruits and veggies with some nuts. Easy peasy as my kids like to say.
Do you have any additional tips for adding more plants into your diet?
I’d love to hear them!
I am sorry to hear you have had a tough year healthwise, Chantel. Seems like you guys have dealt with a lot of dietary restrictions. I find these tips so practical. We are just getting back into meal planning after being in a bit of a rut and we’re trying to have more veggies.
Thanks Alyssa, it’s actually been easier for me since we were so used to looking at ingredient lists and knowing what was in our food ever since Jared was diagnosed.
Wow! I’m so sorry you went through such a tough year with your health! <3 I'm glad you found answers and are able to find ways to eat that help you out! I love these tips so much and will definitely be following them more and more! <3
Thanks, Susannah, they are all tips that I’ve used to try to eat better 🙂
So sorry to hear your family is having health issues. But I love your ideas. My husband is usually the worst when it comes to modifying the family diet. I think the slow progression will work for my whole family. If you don’t mine, I’d like to pray for you and your family.