Please show a warm, fuzzy, Fitness Cheerleader RAH RAH! for fellow Fitfluential Ambassador, Laura from Mommy, run fast! as she makes her guest blog debut to kick off the very first challenge of the 14 Days to Healthy Heart series – take it away Laura!
One of the recent trends in health research is the link between heart health and a vegetarian diet. This has been brought to light by sources including research articles, such as this one, Bill Clinton’s diet nd food documentaries such as Forks Over Knives.
You may already be vegetarian or vegan, but if you’re not, I’d like to challenge you to take the day to eat a whole foods, vegetarian diet.
Choosing vegetarian or vegan choices does not automatically make one’s diet healthier, as many of the above links also point out. A healthy diet should be based on whole food sources, with generous amounts of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes. Rather than replacing meat with processed meat alternatives (fake chicken or burgers), plan meals with plant proteins such as beans or nuts. Try to avoid packaged or processed foods and sugar as well, such as cakes, chips, crackers and cereal. I know it’s nearly impossible to give these up for good, but let’s take a day to eat a purely whole food diet.
Will you join me in the challenge? Can you attempt to get your whole family to go meat-free for a day?
Our family has been slowly moving toward a vegetarian diet with limited dairy for years, but we have not completely given up meat. We have vegetarian meals most nights of the week, and some of our favorites include black beans and rice, homemade pizza, frittatas, split pea soup, and tofu-vegetable curries. We’ve also been cutting out processed foods and limiting sugar, so we were able to keep these foods out of my daughter’s diet for the first two years of her life. It’s becoming challenging the more she’s exposed to parties and friends’ snacks, and so on.
I find it easiest for our whole family to skip meat when we make large pots of vegetarian dishes, and have easy leftovers for lunches. Other simple, family-friendly lunch ideas include grilled cheese or quesadillas, egg “veggie scrambles, bean tacos, nut-butter sandwiches and large salads with beans or egg for protein.
Here’s our go-to black bean crock pot recipe. We make a pot of brown rice in the rice cooker and throw together a simple salad or side vegetable. It’s easy and delicious, and even my 2 year old approves.
I think it’s best to start with dry black beans that have been soaked overnight, but you can substitute 3 or 4 small cans of black beans as well.
I love this recipe because it’s very adaptable. You can add your family’s favorite vegetables or spices, and can add salsa in place of half of the tomatoes (omit the vinegar). We like to top ours with avocado, fresh cilantro, plain yogurt and/or cheese.
- 1 pound dry black beans, washed, soaked for 8 hours and drained
- 2 cups chopped onion
- 2-3 cups chopped red and green bell peppers
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 4 cups organic vegetable broth
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp oregano
- 2 tsp fennel seed
- 2 tsp coriander
- 2 tsp cumin
- ¼- ½ tsp crushed red pepper
- 1 large can diced tomatoes
- 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- Combine all ingredients except tomatoes and vinegar, and cook in crock pot on low 8 hours, or on high 5 hours, until beans are tender.
- Add tomatoes and vinegar, and serve with brown rice.
Black beans are also great fun to play with!
Thanks to Janice for letting me share this guest post with you. I’d love to hear other tips you may have or family-friendly vegetarian meals you enjoy!