I’m not going to lie, I’ve always been interested by people who have taken on a plant based diet. I mean giving up meat, cheese, and bacon wouldn’t be that easy. Well, not a lot of people know about plant-based diets and that we’ve lived off them for thousands of years. A plant-based diet is centered around minimally refined fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. It also excludes all dairy and meat products such as eggs, cheese, fish, and chicken. Would going on a diet like this be safe? How else would you get your protein or calcium?
So many people think that when you go on this diet, all you’re going to be consuming is leafy greens. I can tell you right now that that is not that case! The starches and fruit form the base of a plant-based diet. The leafy greens are there to complement the other foods. Most people tend to quit this diet because all they are consuming is vegetables and lettuce. They are looking at the greens as a source of energy, when really they should be reaching for starches. Healthy starches such as corn, sweet potatoes, and brown rice would be 2/3 of your plate. Not only that, combing those starches with legumes such as navy beans, chick peas and black beans is a great source of fuel.
Our culture has centered around meat as it’s main source of protein. So most people are worried about eating a certain vegetable for calcium and another for protein. They associate one vegetable with one purpose and will only consume that food for that purpose. Remember that all whole foods contain countless nutrients. Variety is key! As long as you consume a variety of whole plant-based foods, you can meet a healthy intake of nutrients.
Not many people realize the difference between hunger and appetite. Hunger prompts eating and is the physical experience you have when your body needs energy. On the other hand we are triggered by psychological factors such as smell, sight, or stress, which is referred to as our appetite. Most people eat based on these factors. The availability of food and social situations that we encounter also influence what and how much we eat. So how can we keep our appetite in check and learn how to handle those crazy cravings?
1. Eat on a regular basis: By eating on a regular basis you are less likely to overeat and gain weight. We don’t want our bodies to go into starvation mode because your metabolism slows down trying to save what you already have stored in your body. With a regular diet routine and exercise you body will break down the stored fat and use it for energy.
2. Don’t forbid foods you love: If you deprive yourself of foods you love, you will be more likely to crave them. This usually happens when people start diets that exclude certain foods. Instead focus on moderation of those foods and just be aware of what and how much you’re eating.
3. Eat slow: Remember, it takes 20 minutes for your brain to get the message that you're full. Try munching on snacks that require a lot of chewing like carrots or jerky. Even including foods that have a lot of fiber will keep you fuller for a much longer period of time.
Remember, these are simple and easy steps you can add everyday to help you move one step closer to a healthier you. Making unrealistic expectations of what you can and cannot eat isn’t going to last very long. Eating should be a pleasurable experience and not something you should limit yourself to. Achieving a healthy lifestyle is going to be long term, but don’t forget to enjoy it!
I went to a butcher shop recently and got suckered into buying some kind of jalapeño and cheddar infused smoked sausage. Now, I like jalapeños, cheddar, and smoked sausage, but I have a rule against buying pre-flavored meats. I can flavor my own meats, dang it! However, the butcher had about one tooth, and he seemed so nice so I felt bad and bought some. I decided that red beans and rice would be a good way to use it up! Here it goes.
½ a yellow onion
2 stalks celery
½ a green bell pepper
3 cloves garlic
½ pound smoked sausage
1 can chicken stock (low sodium is best)
1 can peeled diced tomatoes
2 cans dark red kidney beans
1 bay leaf
½ tsp crushed red pepper
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp thyme
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp parsley
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 ½ cups cooked white rice
1 Large saucepot
1 medium saucepot
6 out of 10 spatulas
1) Slice the sausage into thin discs. Heat a large saucepot to medium heat, and place the sausage in it. Stirring regularly, cook for 6-8 minutes until browned.
2) Remove the sausage to a paper towel lined plate to drain, and dice the celery, onion, and bell pepper. Reduce the heat to medium low (3 out of 10) and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until soft.
3) Add the sausage, garlic, tomatoes, chicken stock, and all the remaining spices. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.
4) Put 1 ½ cups uncooked white rice, along with 3 cups water, into a small saucepot. Put a lid on it, bring it to a boil, reduce the heat, and cook until all the liquid has been absorbed/evaporated.
5) Drain the liquid from the beans, and the beans to the pot, and cook for an additional 20 minutes.
6) When the food is done, spoon some rice into a bowl, cover it in beans, and eat it with a spoon.
You should probably eat this stuff with some Louisiana style hot sauce (either Tabasco of Crystal) and some cold beer. Maybe something from Louisiana, like Dixie (if you can find it) or Abita. With this recipe, you’ll never regret “guilt-buying” some flavored sausage again.