Why You Need a More Plant Based Diet
What we eat is a major factor to healthy living, not only to make our bodies feel great, but also to cleanse the skin. We spoke to Nutritionist Jacqueline Alwill about nourishing the body inside and out with a delicious wholefoods and a plant-based diet.
The plant kingdom has such an incredible abundance of beautiful elements to offer our bodies. For the skin plants can help soothe, hydrate and brighten, and similarly the nutrition they offer our body can help energise, restore and protect. There are so many reasons to include plants in our lives and more than ever we should be basing our diet on plants so we can fuel ourselves with nutrients to thrive.
A plant-based diet is not vegan or vegetarian per se, but instead sets the foundation of the diet on plants and builds from there. I encourage people to incorporate a plant-based diet into their lives because it helps transition away from processed and refined food, is sustainable for our earth, and fuels the body with beautiful nutrition. Vitamins, minerals, fibre, carbohydrates, amino acids, phytochemicals, pre and probiotics can all be found in plants. So, let’s chew a few together…
Pre and probiotics:
Pre and probiotics work as team and are essential for digestion and absorption. When there is not enough of one or the other in the diet, gut health begins to decline. Remember the gut is the seat of our health and poor gut integrity often creates a snowball effect for poor health. Part of an easy solution is to include a little more of both pre and probiotic rich foods in the diet. Prebiotics we find in plants such as onions, asparagus, chickpeas, lentils, beans, slippery elm, guar gum and psyllium, so increasing the intake of these plants supplements an increase probiotic rich foods too. Fermented foods are wonderful way to up probiotics in the diet and miso, cultured (fermented) vegetables, sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, tofu and fermented tea known as kombucha will take you there.
Thinking of pre and probiotics as a team, we can increase them in our diet with:
- salads incorporating legumes as a protein source to a delicious alternative for animal sourced proteins
- dressings incorporating miso and onion
- an evening drink of kombucha where once there was wine
Proteins are made up of amino acids, some of which we must acquire from dietary sources in order to build complete proteins within the body (essential amino acids) and others our bodies can synthesise on their own. These are non-essential amino acids. Both animal tissues and plants can provide us with proteins and combining different foods will give our bodies an adequate supply of protein for growth, development, and repair and to utilize for optimal health.
Including a variety of food in the diet will offer our body the protein it needs. However, more commonly, we think only of animal-based proteins. But we can up our protein game very simply with plants! Ingredients and foods such as pumpkin, peas, sesame seeds, seaweed, kidney beans, chickpeas, hemp and chia seeds, almonds, kiwis, blueberries, apples, figs, cacao, watercress, spirulina, sweet potato, mushrooms, cauliflower, quinoa, buckwheat, teff and corn are all wonderfully nourishing and rich in plant based amino acids, both essential and non-essential.
Combining these foods is where you truly amp up the game try these simple combinations:
- sprinkling hemp and chia seeds over fresh fruit such as apples, blueberries and kiwi for breakfast
- making little snack balls with figs, cacao, nuts and seeds
- including quinoa, buckwheat or teff with a meal to accompany where once may have been a wheat based side such as pasta or bread
Phytochemicals are compounds found in plants that can have powerful effects in preventing disease.
Ever wondered what an antioxidant is? Phytochemicals can work as antioxidants; stimulating the actions of different enzymes in the body and reducing the replication of cells that may cause our bodies more harm than good. And they can make an easy and frequent appearance in our diet. Some phytochemical rich plant sources include blueberries, cherries, raspberries, apples and vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and kale, carrots, garlic, green tea, chilli, capsicum and tomatoes. Try upping your phytochemical quota with:
- evening desserts of mixed berries and a spoon of yoghurt
- roasted cauliflower and broccoli as a side
- green tea where there once was coffee
And if greens and plants is what you need, let this green noodle bowl rich in all the good of plants be your plant inspiration for the week…
GREEN NOODLE BOWL
GF : DF : SF
2 kale leaves, torn from stems
1 bunch broccolini, trimmed
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
90g soba noodles
1 silverbeet leaf, trimmed on stalks and roughly torn
1 zucchini, spiralised
1 cucumber, shaved into ribbons
2 tablespoons sauerkraut
1 tablespoon pepitas
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon micro coriander
1 tablespoon micro garnet
1/2 avocado, sliced
1 tablespoon miso
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
Bring a medium saucepan of water to the boil. Place the kale leaves, broccolini and asparagus into the water and blanch for 2 minutes. Remove vegetables from the water, place in colander, refresh with cold water and set aside. Bring the water back to the boil, add soba noodles, cook for 4 minutes or as per packet instructions. While the soba noodles are cooking whisk together the salad dressing ingredients. To assemble your greens bowl arrange the greens and soba noodles around the two bowls. Top with sauerkraut, pepitas, sesame seeds, micro herbs and avocado before drizzling the dressing over the top.
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