Many people benefit from eating every 3 to 4 hours. A great way to be sure your body is getting the energy it needs is to eat a mid-morning and/or afternoon snack. Snacks are generally smaller and lighter than meals, but look for ones that are nutrient-rich. Nutrient-rich means that the food is concentrated in vitally important vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, fiber, and energy.
Many of these items can be mixed and matched. For instance, add some almond butter to your apple or swap the tortilla for gluten free crackers for your avocado salsa. Adding enjoyment and variety to your snacks makes them more enjoyable for you and also adds different nutrients to your diet. Also, be sure to consider your own biochemical individuality—what works for YOUR dietary system and nourishes YOU—when choosing healthy snacks!
Nuts or seeds like almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds—raw & unsalted (1/4 cup = 1 serving)
Nutrition: Good source of protein & healthy fats; also good sources of fiber, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, folate, vitamin E, & B vitamins; varies depending on nut/seed.
Tips: Remember that 1/4 cup is a serving size, so enjoy but do not over-‐indulge. Many people find nuts and seeds easier to eat and digest if they have been soaked or sprouted first.
Hummus or other healthy dip and veggies (carrots, celery, red bell pepper, broccoli, radish or pea pods)
Nutrition: Fiber, phytonutrients, & vitamin C. Carrots are also a great source of vitamin A, K, biotin and fiber. Celery is a good source of potassium, and vitamins B6 & B1.
Tips: These are easy to pack ahead of time and make for a yummy, crunchy snack. For some other healthy dip ideas, check out this artichoke dip or this olive pistachio dip or this vegan pesto!
Almond butter and whole-grain, seeded crackers like Mary’s Gone Crackers (2 T. almond butter & about 7-10 crackers)
Nutrition: For benefits of almond butter, see nuts/seeds above. Whole-grain crackers are higher in fiber & other minerals than crackers made with enriched flour.
Tips: Look for crackers without a lot of additives and ingredients; simple is best.
Whole grain or corn tortilla, avocado and salsa
Nutrition: Avocados are good sources of fiber, vitamin C, E, K, folate & potassium. Tomatoes are great sources of vitamin C, biotin vitamin K, carotene & lycopene.
Tips: Use about a ½ avocado in a serving. For the other half, leave the pit in the fruit and place in the refrigerator in a sealed container—it will keep for the next day.
Fruits like apples, oranges, berries, plums, or pears
Nutrition: Good amounts of antioxidants, fiber, phytonutrients, vitamin C; amounts vary depending on the fruit
Tips: It sounds so simple but fruits with a high fiber count can be quite filling and refreshing as a snack. Can pair with some almond butter for some added fat and protein.
Nutrition: Good source of vitamins A and C and iodine.
Tips: This delicious snack is a great way to add sea vegetables to your diet. Great as an after-workout snack! The iodine in seaweed can help regulate hormones like estrogen and thyroid.
Nutrition: Excellent source of phytonutrients, molybdenum and manganese. They are also a very good source of folate and copper as well as a good source of dietary fiber, phosphorus, protein, iron, and zinc
Tips: Make these yourself because the ones in the store are usually full of added sugar. For an easy recipe, check out here or here.
Nutrition: High in protein and low in fat; good source of fiber, thiamin, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and copper, vitamin K, folate & manganese.
Tips: You can get shelled edamame in the frozen food section of most stores. Add soy sauce, tamari or Bragg’s if you want some flavor. If you have thyroid issues or a food sensitivity to soy, you will want to avoid soy products.
Nutrition: Good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and potassium.
Tips: Great for if you want something crunchy and savory with the benefits of kale. Easy to make yourself or can get at the store.
What does “plant-based” mean to me?
I love the term plant-based because it seems a lot more inclusive. Plant-based can run the gamut from vegan to vegetarian to pescatarian to flexitarian to someone who eats animal products occasionally. The focus is on an eating plan based on eating mostly plants. I know many people who are very committed to their vegetarian or vegan eating plans and that works great for them. I also know other people who eat a mostly vegetarian diet but may occasionally eat some animal meat. Are they vegetarian? No, technically not. Are they plant-based? I would say so. Plant-based also implies a diet of mostly whole foods that come from plants like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Lastly, plant-based acknowledges the nutritional and health benefits of eating mostly plants. Michael Pollan’s suggestion comes to mind here: “Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.”
What are some of the benefits of a plant-based diet?
A well-planned, nourishing plant-based diet can have many benefits, including:
1. Less impact on the planet. When we eat mostly plants, especially organic, locally grown, seasonal ones, we are making a powerful positive impact on our planet.
2. Fiber! Eating a healthy plant-based diet often means getting much more fiber in your diet which is better for your overall colon health. Not only does fiber help with regularity, but beneficial bacteria in our digestive system need the fiber as well, so a healthy gut comes from getting at least 30 grams of fiber a day. I actually like it if people can get even more.
3. A plant-based diet has been linked to many health benefits, including decreased risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain kinds of cancer.
4. Let’s talk about dairy. Many people are either lactose intolerant or have a dairy sensitivity to the proteins found in cow’s milk. For many people, dairy can be very inflammatory or can cause digestive upset like gas, bloating, diarrhea or constipation. Going off dairy can be a great step towards relieving a lot of these problems for many people.
5. More vegetables! If a person is eating a whole foods diet full of vegetables, then they are going to get all the wonderful benefits including increased fiber, phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. I suggest people make at least half their plate vegetables, no matter if they are vegan, paleo, or anything else!
I will say that eating plant-based requires careful thought and planning. Someone could be vegan and eat all junk food, so it is important to look at what you eating. My suggestions include eating mostly whole foods–foods found in the natural state. In particular, I also suggest avoiding eating processed soy, especially soy protein isolate, which also can be very inflammatory. Instead, if you body is okay on soy, stick to mostly fermented soy products like tempeh and miso. Lastly, since we all have individual needs, it is important to see what works best for your body. For example, someone may have difficulty digesting certain carbohydrates or may require more protein. The key is adjusting your eating plan to your current dietary needs. (Having trouble figuring out what that is? Schedule a session with me and we can figure that out together!)
Lastly, want to incorporate a few more plant-based recipes into your week? Check out a few of my favorite plant-based websites!
In honor of World Vegetarian Day, I thought I’d post a copy of my review from the recent episode of “Check Please! Bay Area.” You can see all three reviews HERE or watch the whole episode below!
encuentro café and wine bar creates flavorful, nourishing and delicious vegetarian and vegan food in an atmosphere that is inviting and cozy. The food is always fresh and inventive, the wine list options are well-considered, and the wait staff is ready to answer any questions or offer suggestions. encuentro means “to meet, gather, encounter” and I think that is a perfect description of this charming Oakland dining experience.
Since much of the food is local and organic, their menu changes with the seasons. In general they serve small bites, salads, bruschetta, and then a variety of smaller meals ranging from inventive sandwiches to fresh takes on dishes like gnocchi, quesadillas or polenta. The menu is always interesting and lovingly prepared and really celebrates the quality and flavor of seasonal foods. They also have amazing desserts, some of which are dairy-free, like tiramisu, hazelnut pudding and their amazing chocolate cake.
For my most recent visit, I went there to celebrate my birthday with my husband and three friends. It was so much fun to order so many different foods and share them. The flavors of the food are really highlighted through creative pairings like dates with macadamia nut pate and walnut honey for a lovely appetizer or the bruschetta with roasted beets, hazelnuts, macadamia nut “cheese” and golden balsamic reduction. Each of the dishes offered something both surprising and comforting in their tastes, combining earthy flavors with sweet and spicy in an excellent balance. The dark green salad with kale, arugula, roasted beets, and cashew cheese was perfectly dressed and rich without being heavy; it was also well-plated in a deconstructed style that made sharing a great experience.
Everything in the restaurant is vegetarian and many of the plates can be made vegan. However, rather than finding replacements for meat, encuentro selects quality foods in delicious combinations that really celebrate the wonders and flavor of the food. Since it is also a wine bar, the well-thought out and varied wine list also needs to be acknowledged. One of my favorite things to do is to get the wine flight because you can choose which three wines you want from the list, making it a great way to try new wines or pair different wines with different small plates.
encuentro has managed to make its small location feel open and welcoming with large windows, modern yet cozy eco-friendly décor, and delightful touches like fresh flowers on the tables. It is a great place to make an evening out of, to share food and wine and conversation for hours, or also a good place to come in for a salad, bruschetta and glass of wine. This place can be a special occasion destination or a light meal before or after a show in Jack London.
By the way, if you have ever thought of applying to be on the show, I highly recommend it. I had a wonderful experience. Leslie Sbrocco and the entire staff at KQED were so lovely, gracious and welcoming.
I also want to give a great bow of thanks to my fellow guests that day on the show–Jack the longshoreman and Jill the horse trainer. I had a really great day with you!
The reviews of encuentro start around 18:30!
Summertime is a great season to be enjoying all the fresh fruits and vegetables at the markets. Because it is usually hot, summer is also a great time to eat foods like fresh vegetables and fruits that are both cooling and hydrating. Salads can be great way to eat these, but how do you eat and prepare salads if you are on the go?
Well, I have to share one of favorite lunch ideas, and really, this is one I just can’t stop sharing! Have you heard of salad-in-a-jar? The basic concept is to make your salads ahead of time to save time in the week, but the idea is to use a mason jar to keep the contents separate until you are ready to mix them together. The dressing goes on the bottom and the greens on very top to keep them from getting wilted and wet. Brilliant!
You can really be creative with this idea, but my favorite recipes to get started are found on this great recipe blog called The Yummy Life by Monica Matheny. I love that she starts with cooked quinoa at the base, so you get some great protein and fiber in your salad and the salad dressing gets soaked up there. The recipes are also all gluten-free and vegan. Lastly, not only are the recipes yummy and varied, but she also has some excellent preparation tips.
Take this concept and run with it! The variations and possibilities are endless. You could use brown rice instead of quinoa or no grain at all. What some meat in there?—Then add some grilled organic chicken or smoked wild salmon. I also like to vary the nuts I add to my salads, so one day it will be walnuts and another pistachios. The vegetable choices are endless—green beans, celery, carrots, shredded beets—you name it! You could even add some seasonally fruit like berries or peaches for some added flavor. Lastly, I love that you can make these ahead of time and be ready to grab and go the rest of the week!
Give it a try and let me know what you think!
And for other salad-in-jar inspirations, check out the following: