At the beginning of each year, millions of people set goals to become healthier. One popular way to improve health is by eating a plant-based diet. Travis Colton Eden, a registered dietitian at Ascension St. John, has helped multiple patients transition from the typical American diet of highly processed food, refined grains and excessive fat to incorporating more fruits and vegetables in their meals.
Most New Year’s resolutions fail after a couple months because the lifestyle changes are not sustainable, according to Eden; instead, he recommends gradually adding more fruits and vegetables into the diet. He says to begin by asking yourself, “What are some non-starchy vegetables I enjoy?” Once you’ve compiled a list of some vegetables you enjoy, find out how you like to prepare them. Eating raw vegetables can become boring, so Eden suggests steaming, roasting, baking or sauteing them in a little oil.
“I do recommend trying to get at least 50%, if not get 75% of your diet, from vegetables,” Eden says.
There are numerous benefits to a plant-based diet. Eden emphasizes that not only are plants low-calorie foods, but they also are great for boosting fiber intake and improving gut health. Plus, vegetables are rich in antioxidants that stimulate the immune system and potentially help decrease the risk for developing certain cancers.
Perhaps you want to start eating a whole-food, plant-based diet to lose weight, fight high cholesterol and improve your blood pressure. Eden recognizes that most doctors prescribe medication to treat issues like high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Although conventional medicine is a lot to be thankful for, he focuses on addressing health problems with a more holistic approach.
“So rather than just taking all these medications, we need to really get to the root cause of the issue,” he says. “Through approaching health holistically, we really focus on your diet, exercise, sleep patterns and stress levels.”
Apart from making sure your health goals are holistic, it is important to be proactive and consistent in your desired behaviors. Meal-prepping, reading nutrition labels and keeping tempting foods out of your house are some of Eden’s suggestions to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Furthermore, asking yourself whether you are eating out of boredom, anxiety or stress can truly guide you in making better food choices.
“I think as Americans, we tend to be very fast paced and task oriented so we may just shovel food into our body just to give us some fuel instead of eating mindfully,” he says. “We have to slow down, be more present and be aware of what we’re putting into our body.”
Curried Red Lentil soup Serves 6-8
Prep Time: 25 mins | Total Time: 1 hour
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 inch ginger, minced
- 6 cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 large carrots, diced
- 1 large russet potato, peeled and diced
- 3 cups torn kale
- 3 tablespoons curry powder
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon gochugaru chili powder (optional)
- 2 cups red lentils
- 1 14.5-ounce can coconut milk
- 4 cups water
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 3/4 cup cashews
- 1/4 cup pepitas
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds or fennel seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
In a large pot over medium heat, add oil, onion, ginger and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft, about 7 minutes. Add carrots, potatoes, kale, curry powder, salt, pepper and gochugaru, and cook, stirring frequently, until kale wilts, about 3 minutes.
Rinse lentils in a strainer until the water is mostly clear. Add lentils, coconut milk and water. Bring to a simmer and reduce to medium-low heat.
Meanwhile, make spiced cashews: In a skillet over medium-low heat, add oil, cashews and pepitas and toast, stirring constantly, until cashews are lightly golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Add in all remaining ingredients and stir until fragrant, 2 minutes more.
Garnish soup with spiced cashews, mint, thyme and lemon zest before serving.
Recipe sourced from delish.com.