How to Get Started with a Plant-Based Diet

Plant-based diets are great for people looking for a way to cut down on the amount of meat they eat or reduce their environmental impact.

But where to start?

Meatless Mondays for one. Meatless Mondays provide an easy and attainable way to incorporate plant-based foods into your diet because you only have to worry about doing it once per week! Recruit a friend or your family to participate with you to make this new habit a sustainable routine.

Concerned you won't get enough protein if you eat a plant based meal?

Have no fear... plants have protein too! Meat, dairy and protein powders aren't the only sources of protein in our diets. Animal based proteins are considered complete proteins which means they contain all of the essential amino acids our bodies need to function. An incomplete protein will contain some, but not all of these essential amino acids. Most plant-based sources of protein are considered incomplete proteins (with the exception of some foods like quinoa). It is important to eat a variety of plant-based sources of proteins throughout the day to be sure you are consuming all of the essential amino acids for your body.

Here are just a few plant-based sources of protein:

  • 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa contains about 15 grams of protein

  • Black beans contain about 15 grams of protein per 1 cup serving

  • Pumpkin seeds have about 9 grams of protein per 1 oz serving

  • Nuts (almonds, peanuts, etc) have about 6 grams of protein per 1 oz serving

  • 1/2 of firm tofu has about 20 grams of protein per serving

  • Sunflower seeds have about 6 grams of protein per 1 oz serving

  • Soybeans have 11 grams of protein per 1/2 cup serving

  • Tempeh has 15 grams of protein per 3oz serving

  • Lentils have 18 grams of protein per 1 cup serving

Worried you won't stay full until your next meal if you don't eat meat?

A plant-based diet is loaded with fiber to help keep which, in addition to the protein content, will help keep you full until your next meal. You can also add a small amount heart healthy fats, like avocado or olive oil, to your meal which will help with satiety.

How to build a plant based meal!

Fill 1/2 of your plate with non-starchy veggies, 1/4 of your plate with a plant-based protein, 1/4 of your plate with a complex carb like potatoes with the skin or brown rice. The complex carb will give you some additional protein as well! Add 1/4 of a small avocado or 1-2 tablespoons of a plant-based oil to get those healthy fats. Focus on have a protein source + high fiber starchy + fat  at each meal to help keep you satisfied.


What's the deal with collagen peptides?

Collagen is a protein found in our body. It acts as the glue that holds our bones and joints together. It’s mainly found in skin, hair, intestines, nails, and joints. Our body produces collagen, but collagen production declines over time. Since our bodies make less collagen overtime, researchers wondered: would taking collagen supplements help keep our skin looking youthful, hair and nails strong and support gut health?

Collagen peptide supplements can be for everyone. They are usually well tolerated in people with allergies or intolerances and are typically well digested. However, keep in mind that clinical studies about the role of collagen peptides are limited and more research is needed.  

Are there food sources of collagen?

Collagen peptide supplements can be expensive. Bone broth has gotten a lot of attention lately as a food source of collagen. Bone broth is the derived from the parts of the animal that usually aren’t eaten - bones, skin, tendon, ligaments, marrow, and feet. Bone broth can be used in recipes that call for broth or stocks, or can be enjoyed alone. Think of drinking it like tea! It is generally well tolerated by people with allergies to soy and dairy. Bone broth provides us with collagen and minerals like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. It could possibly boost the immune system and reduce inflammation, but more studies are needed on these claims. Other foods like egg whites, lean meats and fish are rich in collagen. Eating vitamin C containing foods, like citrus and dark leafy greens, could help promote collagen production in our bodies.

Things to consider before taking collagen peptides 

It's important to keep in mind that collagen is not a complete protein source. It only contains 3 amino acids. So, you wouldn't want to use collagen peptide supplements as your only protein source in your diet. Focus on choosing lean proteins (chicken breast, eggs, low fat dairy and turkey, lean cuts of red meat) and plant-based protein (beans, nuts, tofu, etc.) in addition to collagen peptides.

How I use collagen peptides!

Since most collagen peptide supplements are tasteless and easily mixed into food and beverages, I like to add a scoop of collagen into my morning coffee. I sometimes add the supplement into baked goods, soups, and stews.

How do you use collagen supplements?  


Simple Roasted Delicata Squash

Delicata squash is a type of winter squash. It’s super easy to prepare and makes a great side dish or salad topping! If you’re looking for a different way to eat squash, throw it on top of yogurt with some pomegranate seeds for a nutrient-rich breakfast!

Here’s how you roast it:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 435 degrees

  2. Wash the squash well! You’re going to be eating the skin. Rinse with warm water and give it a good scrub with a brush

  3. Cut off the ends of the squash

  4. Cut long ways down the center

  5. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon

  6. Cut eat half into thin slices. Think half-moon shape! Be sure all of the slices are the same size so they cook evenly

  7. Toss with avocado oil, salt and black pepper. Add a few dashes of cinnamon if you want. Spread evenly onto a lined baking sheet

  8. Roast the squash for about 30 minutes (flip over halfway)

  9. Serve right away! Delicata squash is best enjoyed warm

What fruits and vegetables are in season for the winter?

Eating seasonal produce is healthier, and more sustainable, than eating fresh produce that is out of season. Out of season produce is usually grown and stored in greenhouses or shipped from far away in order to be available year-round. Out of season produce is usually less nutrient-rich and tasty than their in season counterparts. If you plan  to eat out of season produce, I recommend frozen or canned vegetables and fruits to retain the most nutrient value. Be sure to rinse canned veggies before eating them and only choose canned fruit packed in water, not juice or syrup!

Winter Vegetable List:

  • Kale

  • Delicata squash

  • Butternut squash

  • Collard greens

  • Leeks

  • Pumpkins

  • Parsnips

  • Brussels Sprouts

  • Cabbage

Eat the skins on delicata squash to incorporate more fiber into your diet. Fiber is important for maintaining blood glucose levels and can support gut and heart health. Collard greens are a great source a vitamin K, which plays an important role in blood clotting.

My favorite winter veggie is delicata squash! Find out how to cook it here

Winter Fruit List:

  • Dates

  • Grapefruit

  • Oranges

  • Pomegranate

  • Kiwi

  • Persimmon

Pomegranates are potassium powerhouses! They contain more potassium than foods like lentils or kale. Potassium is an important electrolyte for heart function, regulates muscle contraction and help manage water balance. Oranges and kiwi are great sources of vitamin C to add into your diet to help boost your immune system during cold and flu season. Dates can be used in seasonal baked goods or can be a great base for a homemade protein bar!

What’s your favorite winter produce staple??