#82: Healthy & Easy Plant-Based Food Swaps

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We are loving the fact that veganism has finally gone mainstream! 

We began our plant-based journey back in 1996 when the word “vegan” was mostly idolized by hippies and animal activists. Fast forward to 2020, and with more than 57 million #vegan posts on Instagram, it’s safe to say that this lifestyle is no longer an oddball niche, rather a standard lifestyle choice. And that is exciting! Especially considering the many great benefits that come along with adopting a plant-based diet.

If you came to this page you may be intrigued by the idea of reducing the number of animal products you consume and replacing them with cleaner and healthier plant-based alternatives. Nikki and I are very passionate about this subject, we keep learning something new about health and wellbeing every single week, and are eager to share our findings and experiences of becoming better beings with you. 

Let’s be better beings together! #beabetterbeing

One of the first lessons we teach our clients is making healthier food choices. We know that breaking away from your usual foods and making better choices for yourself could be challenging – especially at the beginning. But trust that plant-based eating doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult. And with the right guidance and support, it will become pretty easy for you to make a choice that you can feel good about. 

Join Our Growing Community + Get A Complimentary Plant-Based Starter Guide. 

Including:

  • Practical steps to get you started
  • One week whole food meal plan 
  • Easy plant-based recipes 
  • Regular news and updates

 

Healthy & Easy Plant-Based Food Swaps – you can make today

1. CHIPS for NUTS 

Sometimes the craving for a salty, crunchy food is too strong to ignore. But you know well that the bag of chips is not an ideal choice. High in sodium, and often loaded with unhealthy fats (saturated fat and trans fat), these refined carbohydrate snacks contribute to the buildup of plaque on the inner walls of your arteries and eating this type of food will increase your risk of coronary heart disease.

So what to do when the urge to reach for a bag of chips strikes? Try a handful of raw nuts instead. Nuts contain heart-healthy, unsaturated fats along with plant protein, fibre and other beneficial nutrients. Just remember, that a small handful goes a long way! 

2. ICE CREAM for BANANA “NICE CREAM”

Ditch the dairy and whip up a  100% plant-based ice cream at home by blending frozen bananas with any other fruits (blueberries, mangos, cherries, etc.). Sprinkle on some cacao nibs or goji berries for added crunch and flavour. This healthy treat will satisfy your sweet tooth without any artificial ingredients or lactose, making it easier to digest and enjoy.

Recipe Ideas:

3. BUTTER for AVOCADO

Swap out conventional butter as well as processed vegan butter for heart-healthy avocado instead! Avocado used to be considered ‘too fattening’ in the past, however today we understand that not only is it filled with fibre and healthful monounsaturated fats, but it is a terrific source of glutathione. Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant shown to block thirty different carcinogens (a carcinogen is something that can cause the formation of cancer)! 

How to use it:

    • Spread mashed avocado on a sandwich as a creamy, rich butter alternative. 
    • Consider using avocados instead of mayonnaise in your salads.
    • In baking, substitute 1 cup of pureed avocado for every 1 cup of butter.

4. CHEESE for NUTRITIONAL YEAST 

Easy Vegan Feta Cheese Recipe

One of the easiest ways to transition out of dairy cheese is to swap it for nutritional yeast. 

Free of animal protein and loaded with B vitamins, you can enjoy this vegan alternative without worrying about any of the health ramifications that come from consuming dairy. 

Sprinkle nutritional yeast on anything you’d normally top with cheese, or add it to sauces, soups and dips. You usually need about half the amount of nutritional yeast as you would cheese.

Other dairy-free alternatives: 

5. EGGS for CHIA or CHICKPEA FLOUR 

Cholesterol is only found in animal-derived foods especially eggs. The more eggs or cholesterol you consume, the higher your risk of cardiovascular disease. Fortunately, there are many plant-based alternatives to eggs, so you can still enjoy your favourite dishes without heart-damaging consequences. Our go-to choices are chia seeds and chickpea flour. 

Chia is an ancient plant that belongs in the mint family. Packed with vitamins, minerals, essential fats, fibre, and antioxidants, it’s a perfect addition to any diet. It’s worth mentioning that chia is also high in both soluble and insoluble fibre, which helps sustain energy and maintain fullness. When you mix chia with water it turns into a gel – making it a great egg substitute in baking.

Chickpea flour, also known as gram flour, an ingredient made by grinding the dry beans into a fine texture. One cup of chickpea flour offers 21 grams of protein and can be used to make egg-free scrambles, omelets, and quiches.

How to use it:

    • Replace the eggs in any baking recipe with chia seeds. We call this a “chia-egg”, 1 tablespoon of ground chia mixed with 2 tablespoons of water (this will create a gel-like paste) is equivalent to 1 egg.
    • Chickpea flour scrambled breakfast

6. DELI MEATS for TEMPEH

Pre-packaged lunch meats including sausages, hot dogs, bacon, pastrami, ham, beef jerky and even the vegan alternatives to such “foods” are some of the most processed and unhealthy products on the market. A few years ago, a report was released by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer showing that consumption of such products increases the risks of colorectal and other cancers. 

If you’re used to the idea of having a sandwich for lunch, chose whole-food, meat-free alternatives like tempeh. Other healthy choices include beans (especially chickpeas), portobello mushrooms, a black bean or lentil burger patty, or almond butter (or almond butter and banana). These can go in between two slices of sprouted grain bread or you could put them in a pita pocket or coconut wrap.

If you’re willing to look outside the sandwich box, the options are more plentiful. Here are some tasty, plant-based ideas to try:

Green salad: Top lettuce, spinach or your favourite leafy greens with a variety of vegetables, cooked whole grains and beans (black beans, chickpeas or kidney beans are great choices)

Grain salads: Use quinoa, wild rice, millet, farro, or another ingredient to make a cold salad you can prepare ahead, keep in the refrigerator for several days and eat throughout the week. Try this Tabbouleh Salad or Quinoa Apple Salad.

Plant-based soups: Vegan Cheesy Broccoli Soup, Protein-Packed Hummus Soup or Quick Healing Miso Soup are all great choices that are quick and easy to prepare. 

7. WHEY PROTEIN for HEMP 

Whey protein powders have been the go-to choice for most gym-goers since the bodybuilding boom in the 80s. But what exactly is whey and what effects does it have on your body? 

Whey is the liquid part of milk that separates during the production of cheese. For many years, this by-product was considered waste and was fed to pigs. Then in the early ’80s, the fitness and dairy industry realized it was high in protein and very cheap. Once the whey is separated, it’s heated, micro-filtered, pasteurized, and dried. Then, sweeteners, flavours and preservatives are added to produce what we recognize as protein powder. Because whey derives from milk, it can be hard on the digestive system. If you’ve ever experienced a bloated belly or gas after consuming a whey protein shake, now you know the cause. Some studies also show the consumption of milk and dairy products increases the risk of cancer and heart disease. And if that is not enough, consider the implications of consuming dairy from an industry that widely uses antibiotics and hormones on livestock.

Plant-based protein sources, on the other hand, require little-to-no processing and most of them are nutritionally far superior to whey. One of our go-to choices is Hemp Seed Protein which delivers 13 grams of complete protein, 7 grams of fibre, and an abundant amount of Omegas 3 & 6 with no harmful additives. 

Overall plant protein sources build muscle and aid recovery as well or better than whey, but they can also improve our health, deliver a broader range of beneficial nutrients and are much friendlier for the environment.

Recipe Ideas:

8. HALF-AND-HALF for CASHEW CREAMER

You can enjoy your morning creamy beverage without the dairy. Almond milk coffee creamer is a great substitute; you can also use canned coconut milk in replacement for creamer in your coffee. We enjoy our homemade cashew creamer the most. It’s easy to make and exceptionally rich and creamy – the closest thing we’ve found to half-and-half so far.

How to make Cashew Creamer:

INGREDIENTS:

    • 1/2 cups raw unsalted cashews
    • 2-3 cups water, divided (1 1/2 cups for soaking, the rest for blending)
    • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)
    • Pinch of sea salt (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

    • Place cashews in a large glass jar with an airtight lid. Cover with 1-1/2 cups water. Place the lid on top and let sit at room temperature 4-6 hours, or overnight.
    • Drain the water and rinse cashews well. Place drained cashews in the pitcher of a high-speed blender. Add only 1/2 cup water, vanilla if using, and salt if using. Blend until completely smooth, about 1 minute, adding more water a couple of tablespoons at a time if needed. Add additional water, up to another cup or so, until it reaches your desired consistency.
    • Use in your morning beverage just as you would any other creamer, or mix it in your morning oatmeal. Keeps refrigerated in an airtight container for about 5 days.

Want some hands-on helpful guidance?

Whether you’re new to a plant-based diet or have been a veggie for a while, you might be wondering what the heck to eat? Which foods make up a healthy plant-based diet? How do you fit exercise into your busy schedule? How can you stay motivated and achieve the goals you set for yourself? 

Or perhaps you often ask yourself “Is my diet well-balanced? Is it providing the nutrition I need? Am I taking the right steps towards achieving optimal health? “

And how contradicting is it when you read one thing that says “This Thing“ is GOOD for you, and then you turn around and read something else that says “That exact thing” is BAD for you? It can be confusing out there!

If you’re finding your plant-based journey challenging or overwhelming, then we encourage you to check our online-based course – THE PLANT-BASED SOLUTION. 

Dedicated to your health & wellbeing, 

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