8 Ways to Eat More Plants

By Luke Jones. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. 

Image by Rick Ligtham

Image by Rick Ligtham

There are a lot of contradictions in the world of nutrition. That may be a bit of an understatement…

One expert tells you to do this, whilst another with equal credentials states the comlete oppposite. But who to trust? The sheer quantity of conflicting information and media bullshit can be enough to make your head spin if you’re not careful. Hopefully though, there’s one thing we can all agree on:

Whether we’re talking vegan or paleo, high carb or low carb, athletes or the sedentary, healthy or sick:

Everyone could benefit from including lots of whole plant foods in their diet.

There’s a quiet movement happening in the background of our lives. Plant foods are increasingly being recognised for their health benefits, and their role in preventing and even reversing many chronic diseases. People are beginning to wake up and smell the kale…

In terms of micro-nutrients, generally vegetables are the most mineral dense foods available, and fruits are often the most vitamin dense. We all pretty much realise that eating these foods is likely a good idea, but often people don’t have a clue where to start.

Hopefully this article will help a little.

8 SIMPLE STEPS

I’ve collected together a few simple ideas help get more plants into your life. Some are a little more advanced than others, but I’ve tried to make them all as a accessible as possible. Go at your own pace, it’s not a race.

I use most of these ideas quite successfully myself, and I hope they’ll also get you a little closer to becoming a happier, healthier you.

1. Start your day with something green.

I begin nearly every morning with a big glass of water, followed by a bit of meditation and a nice green smoothie. I really feel that the smoothie gives me a good head start. Even if I don’t have access to the best nutrition throughout the rest of the day, at least I’ve already got a load of nutrients in the bag.

2. Learn to love side salads.

A lot of my greens come from salads.

A long time ago, I began developing the habit of having a salad with almost every meal. I started slow, but now it’s second nature, and if I don’t have the salad, it feels like something is missing…

Rocket, watercress, spinach, romaine, cos, even kale leaves can all be great bases. Then I mix it up adding cucumber, onion, sweet corn, celery, berries, apple, pear, walnuts, seeds… The choice is yours. You also can whip up some pretty nice dressing apparently, by blending together various fruit and nut combos. But I’ve yet to really have any success with that…

3. Snack on plants.

If you’re someone who snacks a lot; perhaps sometimes on processed foods, you might do well to substitute your snacks for plant based alternatives. Use that same trigger – the feeling of hunger – but replace your usual go to with something healthy instead!

You can’t beat a fresh banana with cashew butter, some medjool dates, or a juicy mango. Dried fruits can be great too, mix them with nuts and seeds for a trail mix. Hummus and carrot or celery stalks can be quite nice. You can even blend dates together with some oats, nuts and raisins – roll them up to make squidgy snack bars. Be creative. Go crazy. Find what works for you.

4. Learn to make a few delicious plant based recipes.

If you can start to develop this habit, you’re taking a big step towards securing a more sustainable, healthy future. Many people have the misconception that eating healthily has to be boring. Sure, this can be the case if you want it to, but it doesn’t have to be like that. I promise. I love eating. It’s one of my favourite things.

Maybe start with just a few basic recipes – you could make the commitment to try a new one every week. Perhaps try out ‘Meatless Mondays’, and instead of dead animals opt for plant based goodness – see how that makes you feel.

Learning to prepare your own food can be empowering and enjoyable, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. There are plenty of great recipe books out there too. You’re welcome to take a look at some of the ones I have posted here on the blog, like this Vegan Chilli. Or be creative and make up your own.

5. Eat the same thing sometimes.

Some people think I’m crazy because I eat the same thing most days for breakfast and lunch. A big smoothie in the morning, beans and salad at lunchtime. Sure I’ll mix it up now ad again with some porridge and the odd sammich, but for the most part it’s smoothies and beans ftw.

If you find something healthy that you really like, don’t be afraid to keep eating it. Have your green smoothie every morning. Perhaps eat your favourite salad or homemade soup every lunch time. As long as you’re eating whole foods, there is no shame in eating the same thing every day.

This repetition helps to build the habit, a crucial part of making lasting changes. Mix it up with your evening meal, but don’t be afraid to keep it simple during the day.

6. Plan your meals ahead.

Once you have built up a solid repertoire of plant based recipes, you could start to plan your meals before the week begins. This can really help in building some structure into your eating patterns. Chilli on a Monday, dahl on a Tuesday…

You may prefer the spontaneity of eating what you feel like, and that’s cool. But having set meals gives you a framework, and can sometimes help those who are easily tempted by unhealthy options.

7. Batch cook.

Batch cooking is another useful tool if you’re planning ahead, and often can be a lifesaver. Whenever you make a meal, just double the recipe and freeze the leftovers. Simple. It doesn’t really require any more effort, to make twice as much food.

You’ll be thankful when you come home late one evening, tired, hungry and with no motivation whatsoever to cook anything fresh. Rather than reaching for the takeaway leaflet and destroying a stuffed crust pizza, defrost your frozen plant filled meal and enjoy.

Because I’m coo, I sometimes like to batch cook grains or pulses on the weekends, and feed off them during the week. It saves a lot of time, and allows me to be a lot more productive.

8. Buy frozen fruits and vegetables.

For the most part, fresh fruit and veg is the best way to go. But it’s not always that convenient or cost effective, so it’s always handy to have a stock of frozen produce available. It also means you’ve got a backup, just in case you run out of the fresh stuff, or if it decides to go off.

Frozen fruit and veg can make a great addition to soups, Asian dishes, chilli… Pretty much anything. I love throwing frozen spinach in nearly everything I make. Seriously, everything. The taste is pretty subtle, and it goes great in my Breakfast Smoothie.

Do you have any other tips and tricks to get more plants in your diet? If so, let us know in the comments below. 


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Luke Jones
Luke Jones is a mover, blogger and wellness enthusiast. He spends his time exploring and sharing ideas in mindful movement, healthy living and adventure.

22 Responses to “8 Ways to Eat More Plants

  • Wake up and smell the kale! I love it! Great article.

  • Great post! I totally find the power of my habits and “green routine” to be the best way to make sure I get the nutrients I need every day. The weekly plan in particular has helped me a lot in staying on the healthy path!

  • Our freezer is filled with lots of nutritious and delicious plant based meals: Tattie Soup, Pea Soup, Vegan Chili, Potato Curry, Pasta with Tomatoes and Peppers, Minestrone Soup with Farro, etc.

    So great when we don’t feel like cooking.

  • I got to the Plan Ahead section and I seriously thought, “That is my biggest obstacle.” And then below you offer a solution: Batch Cooking. It’s like you read my mind. Thanks.

  • reposting this! it’s a great add-on to an article i posted last week

  • Reblogged this on Run Ayesha Run and commented:
    Great follow up to my plant-based blog post from last week

  • Reblogged this on The Joy of Health Nutrition and Beauty and commented:
    Love the advice in this blog, and definitely recommend people up their intake of veggies. Green Magic is a great second choice for those days where time is short, but you still want your “greens” plus it has the added bonus of pro-biotics and royal jelly amongst it’s list of ingredients.

  • Great tips! I have a green smoothie once in a while but it really would be good to introduce them to my routine. I think I will start by having them in the weekend at least 🙂

  • Thanks for the good tips! Very good inspiration

  • Your smoothie with 5-8 ripe bananas has LOTS of sugar; ripe bananas are 20% sugar as compared to a banana that is some green at 5.6%. I am diabetic, so I can’t use that much sugar. Instead, I use frozen cranberries, blueberries and mixed berries and half a piece of citrus fruit, and a quarter of a medium apple. It isn’t green anymore, but the phytonutrients in the blueberries pack a punch.

    I do completely agree that starting the day with a smoothie is wonderful. I feel energetic and ready to take on the day!

    Thanks for your blog post.

    Diane

    • Thanks Diane!

      Your smoothie sounds great!

      I think I posted that recipe when I was playing around with the fruitarian diet. I tend to use 2-3 ripe bananas these days, and include oats and berries too. I feel that actually works a bit better than the old recipe for me!

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