Tips for Starting a Plant Based Diet

Happy New Year!!  Can you believe it’s already here?! I received many emails over the holidays asking questions about how to start eating clean and tips for starting a healthy diet.   Thanks for all the sweet emails;  I am so inspired and proud of you for wanting to try a new way of eating.

thinkingplantbaseddiet

There is no better time than now! The holidays are over and a new year is here.  Go for it! Let me give you some tips and tools that worked for me…

cleanoutpantry

1.  Clean out your pantry! Throw out all that tempts you.

getinspired

2.  Watch the Forks Over Knives documentary (this is not a movie about animal cruelty, purely on how diet affects health).  If you want to lose weight and learn how to keep it off, buy and read the book Eat to Live by Dr Joel Fuhrman.  If you are at your ideal weight, but you want to learn how to feel better, never get sick, and stay healthy, buy and read the book Super Immunity by Dr Joel Fuhrman.

vitamins

3.  Vitamins/Supplements

Very few people eat perfectly, and even if we did, we all absorbs and excrete nutrients differently.  It is important to make sure your levels are appropriate but also that you are not exposing yourself to extra supplements your body does not need (excessive quantities of unneeded vitamins or minerals can be toxic over extended periods of time).  From my experience, I would advise having a blood work test by your doctor once you are 4 weeks into a plant based diet.

-Start by taking a Vitamin B12 1000mg (sublingual) supplement at the beginning of your diet change.  Vitamin B12 is almost essential for a vegan diet.  Vitamin B12 is not found in plant foods.  Vitamin B12 is completely safe and absorbable.

The only supplement I take is Vitamin B12.  I have learned how to

balance all my other vitamins and minerals with my diet alone.

-You may need a Vitamin D supplement for a period of time.  Vitamin D is found naturally in very few foods.  The primary source is the sun and fortified dairy products.  Mushrooms do provide some needed Vitamin D.

– When I first started a plant based diet I completely avoided salt (which is iodinated).  I was also not consuming any iodine supplements or sea vegetables (which contain iodine).  Given that I drink an overabundance of water, this was probably not the best choice for my body.  After my routine blood work testing I realized that my body flushes out excess sodium more than most, and with the new diet change of no added salt, I was deficient in sodium.   Now I eat one small salty snack a day, and I eat sea vegetables, aka Nori (seaweed paper) in vegetable sushi a couple times a week.  If you can develop a taste for sea vegetables, they are a great source of plant-based Iodine! 🙂

All our bodies are designed differently, your body may require

and function best with no added salt.  Experiment and test what

works best for you, but always remember a little salt goes a LONG way!

kitchentools

4.  A few new kitchen tools may make your life easier.  A nice food processor, a heavy duty blender, a new non stick pan or pot (searing veggie burgers and water sauteing veggies), and parchment paper (oil-free baking).

planahead

5.  Plan your meals at the beginning of the week!  Choose your delicious healthy recipes you want to prepare beforehand so you don’t pull through a fast food joint! (The Raw Food World or Nuts.com are great places online to buy nuts, dried fruit, flours etc.) These are items that I keep in my kitchen all the time:

kitchenstaples

 

quickguide

5.  Here are a few easy meal ideas to get you started!

Breakfast:

I try to incorporate at a minimum 4 fresh fruits into breakfast along with 1-2 Tablespoons of Ground Flaxseed.  Ground Flaxseed is  a very important part of a plant based diet because it provides a great balance/ratio of Omega 3 and Omega 6 Fatty Acids.  Give up Fish Oil and Just eat Flaxseed..your body will reap the same Omega 3 benefits.

1.  Huge Plate of fresh fruit and berries sprinkled with 1 Tablespoon Flaxseed.

2.  Old Fashioned Oats topped with 1 Tablespoon Ground Flaxseed, Strawberries, Blueberries, and sliced Banana.

3.  Fruit & Veggie Smoothie! Get in your greens anytime you can!

4.  Overnights Oats topped with fresh berries, apple chunks, sliced banana, chopped nuts, and cinnamon, or topped with a small smoothie!

Lunch:

1.  Salad!  Here is the perfect time to get in your raw veggies with a HUGE salad! Chop up the fresh greens of your choice, about 1 pound (sounds like a lot, but it isn’t as much as you think).  Top the greens with any and every fresh raw vegetable in your refrigerator! Finish by adding 1/2 Cup cooked beans, and add a sprinkle of Sunflower or Pumpkin Seeds.  I also love shredded steamed beets on my salads. beets are one of the healthiest foods on the planet!  Use an oil-free salad dressing like this one or this one, or use balsamic vinegars! I buy flavored Balsamic Vinegars from The Olive Tap or Dr. Fuhrman.  Speaking of balsamic vinegars…have you ever heard of Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar? You’re welcome.  It’s delicious.  Try drizzling  a little over fruit or vegan Banana Nut Ice Cream!

If you have a Whole Foods Market in your vicinity, get acquainted with their salad bar!  They have tons of delicious options for a fresh, organic, salad!

2.  Soup! A big bowl of vegetable soup is perfect for a quick and easy lunch!  Soup is awesome because you can make it ahead, and eat it for a few days.

Snack:

I am a snack person!  I normally have a snack between lunch & dinner.  Here are my go-to’s:

1.  Bowl of Fresh Fruit

2.  Oil-Free Hummus or Broccoli Dip. Eat with raw Carrots, Cauliflower, Snap Peas, Bell Peppers, Cucumbers, etc.

Dinner:

If you didn’t get in a large salad at lunch, then try your best to have it at dinner.  Veggie Burgers are a fan favorite and great way to begin eating a plant based dinner.  Serve with a side of mashed cheezy potatoes along with steamed greens, steamed broccoli, or steamed asparagus – try sprinkling with a little Mrs Dash Salt-Free Seasoning.                  

remember

I never want you to feel like you must label yourself.  If you’re planning to consume animal/dairy products, remember to keep them at a minimum of 10% or less.  Have your diet consist of 90% whole plant based foods and keep your animal products to a minimum.  You do not need dairy for calcium IF you are consuming enough calories from vegetables and fruits. 🙂  Always remember to eat enough food! Do not be scared to eat an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables.  When you are avoiding processed foods, heavy sugars, and oils, your body can process these calories efficiently! Your body will thank you by feeling better and becoming slim!

If you have any specific questions, please email me on my Contact Page

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Comments

  1. Great post – it’s easy to get started with just a few changes! Watching Forks Over Knives again today to recommit myself to a healthy 2014!

  2. sarah perrin says:

    Hi 🙂
    cant wait to change my eating habits. Obv greek yoghurt is dairy so would that be a no go? Any thing you can recommend similar??
    Thanks

    • Hi Sarah! Thanks for checking out this article! I would definitely give up the Greek Yogurt; it’s still dairy and dairy is terrible for our bodies. I assume you like greek yogurt for the protein? How are you eating your greek yogurt? Are you using it in smoothies, baking, in parfaits, or just eating it alone?

      If you are just eating it by itself, and just really love yogurt, they do make almond and coconut milk yogurts that are tasty. Check your local natural grocer for these, but make sure to check the labels to see what else is in them, sometimes they are loaded with refined sugar. Once in a while I will eat a dairy-free yogurt if I am at a vegan restaurant or if I feel like making a fruit parfait for a party or something. Generally, I do not need for a yogurt replacement in my diet now. (but I understand where you are coming from about the greek yogurt, because I used to love greek yogurt too.) If I want something creamy, I eat frozen banana “ice cream” or use dairy free milks and a few cashews to make things rich & creamy.

      For breakfast, replace greek yogurt with a fruit and veggie smoothie or overnight oats, (greens can provide more protein than greek yogurt). For a snack, a quick ideas to replace yogurt is with a fruit bowl and a few nuts/seeds. By the way, if you are looking for protein, an amazing source of plant based protein is Mediterranean Pine Nuts.

      XOXO,
      Ashley

  3. hi,

    I am very interested in starting to go vegan, if not vegan, very close to it. I do not eat red meat, I eat chicken but is VERY SELDOM and I eat fish, so this is very helpful. My boyfriend is going to start doing this with me but I see a lot of stuff with nuts and he has a nut allergy 😦 what would be some healthier alternatives or should he not try this vegan lifestyle with me? what would your suggestion be?

    thanks
    Bethany

    • Hi Bethany! I am happy to hear you are interested in starting a healthy vegan diet! That’s so awesome! Don’t worry about the nut allergy. Yes, many vegan recipes do have nuts in them, but most often there is a replacement. If your boyfriend can eat seeds, then you could substitute some recipes that require nuts for sunflower seeds or hemp seeds. Normally nuts are in a recipe to provide a “richness” factor. Here is an example of one of my recipes that you can easily change: https://lipstickandberries.wordpress.com/2014/07/16/creamy-basil-pesto/ This recipe is just as delicious by using 1/4-1/2 avocado in replacement of the cashews. Also for salad dressings that call for nuts, you could omit them, use any type of seed in replacement, OR use white beans to make the recipe creamier and provide more protein. If you have any specific recipes that you are curious what to substitute, just shoot me a message. Also check out my FAQ page, at the bottom I have some great book recommendations like The Starch Solution, and Super Immunity that I think will help you as you and your boyfriend transition to a healthier plant based diet!

      XOXO,
      Ashley

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