The content and photography for this post is courtesy of our friend and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist in-training, Abigail Taft of Abigail Taft Nutrition.
I’m so excited to be partnering with Heinen’s on their plant based initiative this spring! Eating plant based can mean something different to everyone, but my definition is simply a commitment to eating a diet that focuses on whole, plant foods with few or no animal products. There is a ton of research, and maybe even more personal anecdotes, supporting the many benefits of eating a plant based diet. It’s a long list of benefits, but some of my favorites include improved energy, a stronger immune system, weight management/loss, improved gut health and digestion and reduced risk of chronic disease.
As with any way of eating, it’s important to make sure your diet is delicious, balanced and full of variety, and whether you choose to eat animal products or not, fruits, vegetables, plant based protein and whole grains can still be the foundation of your diet. My goal with clients is to uncomplicate plant-based eating and make it approachable, simple and affordable. I’ve put together a list of my top tips for eating plant-based and my favorite plant-based products you can find at Heinen’s. Enjoy!
Top Tips for Going Plant Based:
1. Focus on balance and unprocessed foods. Think foods without labels and long ingredient lists. You can usually find these items on the parameter of the grocery store! Load your cart with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, legumes.
2. Get creative! Find foods that you enjoy and mix things up using different preparation techniques, spices and sauces. Roasting vegetables makes them more flavorful and easier to digest than eating them raw.
3. Find delicious plant-based alternatives. There are some amazing plant-based milks and yogurts on the shelves these days. Some of my favorites are almond milk, oat milk, and the kite-hill Greek yogurt. Always be sure to check the ingredient list and look for brands with minimal ingredients and little to no added sugars.
4. Eat quality plant-based protein sources. Some of my favorites: lentils, chickpeas, quinoa, nuts, tofu, tempeh. These are easy to make and even easier to add to a salad or any meal.
5.Start with small changes! Maybe it’s eating one extra serving of vegetables a day, adding a simple green salad to dinner every night or choosing to have a ‘meatless’ day once a week. It makes a difference!
Recommended Plant Based Grocery Store List:
1. Tons of fruits and vegetables (fresh and frozen are both great) – Heinen’s has an incredible produce section!
2. Leafy greens, leafy greens, leafy greens. These are something you can add to any meal and should try and eat at least one serving per day. They’re low in calories and so high in vitamins and minerals.
3. Plant-based dairy products – Some of my favorite brands for plant-based dairy products at Heinens: Califia Farms, New Barn, Kite Hill and Elmhurst.
4. Plant-based proteins – I always have Heinen’s Organic, Low-Sodium canned Garbanzo beans in my pantry. I love to roast chickpeas with salt and garlic for a crunchy, protein-packed addition to a salad.
5. Grains! They’re inexpensive and a great food to always keep in your pantry and add to meals. Heinen’s has a great aisle full of simple-to-make grains. Quinoa is my favorite because of it’s higher protein content.
6. Frozen veggie patty brands: Dr. Praeger’s and Hilary’s are delicious!
7. I’m obsessed with Banza chickpea pasta! A delicious pasta alternative with added fiber and protein!
8. Raw nut and nut butters! An amazing source of healthy fats and protein. I recommend buying raw nuts in bulk to save money. With nut butters, look for brands with short ingredient lists – ideally the only ingredient is nuts!