“Eat your vegetables!” your mother used to say countless times when you were a kid. You could count on it at each family dinner like ants at a picnic. Now, we nag our toddlers and teenagers to do the same. Sigh. We really are becoming our parents.
20 years ago, our elders threatened us with dish duty or a time-out in the corner if we stared too long at those green and orange undesirables on our plates. We became expert at hiding them in napkins or feeding them to our family dog under the table. One famous evening at our home, my 3-year-old sister went to bed with a whole mouthful of green beans, only to wake up the next morning with them still marinating in her cheeks! (sorry…TMI)
Veggies have rarely ever been the first items we dig into at mealtime, but Lifestyle and Mindset Coach Kathy Davis is on a quest to change our thinking about Whole-Food diets. As the creator of 3 Vegan-Style Cookbooks, she is putting her talents and knowledge to good use, sharing her transformational journey with beginners and professionals alike. And you won’t even mind that she tells you she’s a vegan.
American Aversion to Veggies
Several studies have been done about the infamous American Diet. It’s fatty, unhealthy comfort-food for the most part. We have our share of obesity, diabetes and cancer over here in the west.The general consensus is: Citizens of the richest nation in the world eat very poorly. Most only eat 2-3 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, and these are usually corn, potatoes and carrots. (0:30)
Plant-Based Eating can be defined different ways, says Kathy. “Generally speaking,’Plant-Based Eating’ is a term given to dietary habits that involve eating foods that are not made from animal products.”
- This includes avoiding any foods made in laboratories.
- Food choices center around naturally grown fruits, vegetables, and grains.
- “Whole-Food, plant-based” choices include foods that are minimally processed, like 2-ingredient peanut butter.
- Convenience and nutrition are not always incompatible. (2:45)
“Being a vegan is the whole lifestyle–the clothes, the cleaning products, and all the things that don’t use animal products.”
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Keep it Simple
Most people don’t have the time to cook a healthy, delicious meal at the end of the day. Households are shrinking, and elaborate meals are becoming less and less of a priority to many families. But cooking healthy doesn’t have to be difficult.
- Fast food is convenient, but rarely nutritious. (6:00)
- A variety of ingredients, including large quantities of vegetables (raw and cooked) isn’t as hard as it sounds.
- Conveniently packaged salads and raw veggies are a common sight at grocery stores now.
- Veggies can be cooked or prepared in a whole variety of ways to “mix it up” and avoid waste. (7:30)
- The “30-Minute Plant Based Cookbook” has over 100 recipes unique to this volume alone.
- Meal plans are included in Kathy’s “Budget Friendly Cookbook,” which involves a bit more “hands-on” preparation, but still keeps things simple and affordable. Time and kitchen talent vary with each individual, but all recipes are considered “do-able” by even an amateur cook.
“Time is money,” says Kathy, so she doesn’t mind doing more of her own meal prep right at home in her RV.
A Typical Day
A normal day in the life of Kathy Davis begins in her comfy RV with her husband, a cup of tea, and her 9 year old cat. (This adventurous family is currently on a multi-month travel tour all over the United States!)
- A typical breakfast begins with oatmeal, plant-based milk (oat or almond), maple syrup and frozen berries. Yum!
- Lunch usually consists of some kind of potato or rice and beans, and a variety of vegetables, usually uncooked, with a simple oil and vinegar dressing.
- Oven-grilled veggies made into a roll-up tortilla in the evenings complete a typical dinner. Other starches include quinoa, breads and potatoes.
- Root vegetables, squash, and corn are starchy vegetables that help make you feel fuller for a longer period of time. (15:30)
- Watch the butter and oil! “Too much fat on our healthy foods can destroy their nutritional value.”
“We’re really programmed to believe that starches are bad, but it’s the fats we put on them…We smother them with cheese, bacon, butter and sour cream,” which all cause inflammation and weight gain.
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Healthy Fats: Not an Oxymoron
As you lovingly stare at a beautiful plate full of fresh vegetables or a large salad cut moments ago from your garden, consider what you are about to put on top: A store-bought dressing loaded with trans-fats and sugar? Epic fail!
Healthy dressings can be found in avocado, olive or flax see oils combined with your favorite balsamic vinegar. Always read labels! The name of a dressing doesn’t always reflect its contents.
“Spinach, beans, edamame, tofu, and soy products all have great protein value,” says Kathy. “You need nuts, and (surprisingly) it only takes about 1/2 C. beans to equal a single serving of protein. “You don’t have to eat 1/2 C. beans all at once either. You could eat 1/4 C. at breakfast time and later on eat 1/4 C. hummus. Incorporating a variety of proteins-not just tofu-will help you get the amount you need each day.”
- Leverage whole foods before they are processed, including plant-based proteins.
- Track how your body feels and responds to new sources of protein (20:30).
Training our brains and bodies to choose vegetables and other whole-foods over a traditional burger and pizza diet is difficult for some.
“I was extremely resistant to a plan-based diet 8 years ago. It was actually my husband’s idea! I was heels dug-in not wanting to do it,” confesses Kathy. “Don’t start with unfamiliar foods. Really lean into the foods you already like.”
Slowly add new foods, and you may be surprised at how much you actually like a new vegetable, especially when cooked a certain way. “This is a gradual process, a journey that takes time.” (27:00)
- Try adding fresh or powdered fruits and vegetables to smoothies!
- Often, our guts respond negatively to legumes and other foods that we aren’t used to eating. When we eat new foods with a little nori or seaweed, these issues usually subside.
Canned V. Dried
Legumes are a very inexpensive alternative to animal proteins, but take longer to prepare generally. But cooking dried beans in an Instant Pot cuts prep time down to about an hour. “Add a little kelp or nori to the beans while cooking, and the shell of the beans breaks down much faster and makes them creamier.” Who knew?
- Dried beans are much cheaper than canned. 1 pound of dried beans=4 large cans of cooked beans at a fraction of the price. Buying beans in the bulk section saves even more $!
- Steel cut oats can be ready in 8 minutes in an Instant Pot. (combine 2 C. oats + 6 C. water or plant milk + 1 tsp. salt). When ready, top with maple syrup, chopped apples, pecans, cinnamon and berries…the sky’s the limit!
Is Plant-Based Expensive?
One concern many people have about a plant-based diet is that it can be a little pricey and time-consuming. Fresh food is often more expensive than canned or boxed foods found at the grocery store. Is it worth it to pay the price? Kathy says yes!
“Buy local and in season, and watch the grocery store ads for sale items and bulk discounts.”
- Avoid “fake” meat, which is pre-processed and not very nutritious, generally. Also, it’s very expensive.
- Stick to basics. Shop the outer aisles of the grocery stores where most of the unprocessed whole-foods are found.
- Next, head for the whole grains found in the bulk aisles.
- Frozen fruits and vegetables can be an option when the fresh ones aren’t available.
- Canned fruits and vegetables are a viable option when fresh or frozen are not in season. Tomatoes, olives, artichoke hearts and potatoes make great canned vegies, along with most fruits. Try to keep them on hand for convenience and variety.
Bottom line: You don’t have to be a world-class CEO of your own company to learn the Plant-Based lifestyle, but you just might find that this new way of eating changes everything you thought you knew about a healthy diet! It sure doesn’t hurt to try!