So here we are, one month into 2017 and our Journey to Healthy Eating Challenge. January’s challenge brought you lots of veggies on your plate - half your plate to be exact. Before we talk about February’s nutrition objective, I’d like to reflect upon January’s challenge.
For me, a veggie lover, it still wasn’t always easy to make every plate at lunch and dinner half veggies. The main hurdle to overcome was an barren veggie crisper towards the end of the week, as I tend to do one big weekly grocery shop. I did find that stocking my freezer with veggies like broccoli, spinach, green beans, butternut squash and carrots helped me achieve my goal of covering my plate with 50% veggies. Those good old, dependable frozen veggies to the rescue (again). My other saving grace with the challenge was planning ahead of time. While meal planning may not be everyone’s cup of tea, I do find it really helps to organize meals and to ensure my family’s weekly meals are balanced (and that I buy enough veggies). Sitting down for a solid 30 minutes each week to plan my meals definitely helps me eat much better.
now On to February’s challenge...
February Challenge: Make Mondays Meatless
February’s objective in the Journey to Healthy Eating Challenge is to take up vegetarian eating once a week, specifically on Mondays. Now, really, it can be any day of the week but since Meatless Monday is already a thing, lets's just roll with Mondays. If meatless meals are relatively new to you, one great way to remember to include them is to have them on the same day each week. Hence, Meatless Mondays. Plus if you’re big into social media you can participate in #MeatlessMonday by adding some lovely photos of your meals to inspire others to do the same.
So what’s with this initiative to go meatless once a week? While no one says you need to stop at once a week, for those not accustomed to eating vegetarian meals, opting for one meatless meal per week is a good way to ease into plant-based eating. And if you want to start by just making your dinner on Monday's meatless or by making the whole day meatless, it's up to you. If having one meatless meal is enough of a challenge for you, than I say just do that. If not, aim for a whole day of choosing plant-based proteins over animal ones.
Plant-based proteins, such as legumes, nuts, and seeds are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and of course, protein. The fiber in plant-based proteins (which you don't find in meat, fish or dairy) is great for keeping your appetite satiated, blood sugars stable and bowels regular. Sounds pretty good, huh?
We also know that plant-based diets are associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease, especially that of ischemic heart disease. As well, they appear to reduce the risk of some cancers and be associated with lower rates of diabetes, and a lower overall mortality rate.
- Plan, plan, plan. If you’re not used to cooking vegetarian meals, you’ll need to plan ahead
- Ask your vegetarian friends for some quick, easy and delicious recipes (or better yet, let the cook for you!)
- Do an online recipe search for vegetarian meals or borrow a vegetarian cookbook out of the library
- For no-fuss meal prep, use canned or frozen beans, such as black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans or lentils
- Swap out the meat in meals you normally make for beans or lentils (for example: make beef tacos into black bean tacos or meat-based spaghetti sauce into a lentil tomato sauce)
- Top salads with chickpeas and slivered almonds
- Make a stir fry with edamame, tofu or cashews
- Top a baked potato or yam with black beans, corn, salsa, green onion and shredded cheese
- Make a sandwich with hummus and roasted vegetables
- Make a wrap with smoked tofu and crunchy, fresh veggies
Already doing this? Try the bonus challenge:
Do a little exploring with new (or new to you) plant-based proteins. Ever tried tempeh? Well, maybe now’s the time. What about adzuki beans, black-eyed peas, fava beans, lima beans or split peas? Well, this month is the time to experiment with some plant-based proteins that you may not usually eat.
ARE YOU FOLLOWING ALONG WITH THIS CHALLENGE? TAG YOUR PHOTOS ON SOCIAL MEDIA WITH #JOURNEYTOHEALTHYEATING.
Stay tuned for next month’s Challenge!
Find January's Journey To Healthy Eating Challenge here.