It’s officially the holiday season, and if you’ve been cooped up at home for most of the year, you might be looking for some delicious, nutritious alternatives to your favorite holiday comfort foods. How? More plants.
Compared to omnivorous diets, healthful plant-based diets containing primarily vegetables, leafy greens, whole grains, fruit, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, and unsaturated plant oils have been shown to confer beneficial effects for weight management, metabolism, heart health, and systemic inflammation over time. And don’t worry – you don’t need to go vegan to reap the rewards. Mediterranean style diets that emphasize plants, whole grains, olive oil, low-fat dairy, and fish show similar benefits. The key in both cases: eating mostly plants, most of the time, over time.
Making the switch to a more plant-powered diet is a lifestyle change that begins with one knockout meal and carries on for the long run. Start the new year – and the years to come – on a nutritious note by impressing your loved ones with plant-based swaps to holiday classics that still hit the spot. Here are a couple options to start.
- Use soy milk in place of high fat dairy. Creamy, slightly sweet, and rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, soy milk makes for an excellent dairy alternative for the newbie plant-based eater. Instead of leaning on egg yolks, heavy whipping cream, and granulated sugar for your eggnog this holiday season, try swapping in unsweetened soy milk with a can of light coconut cream and monk fruit sweetener for a Creamy Vegan Eggnog.
- Swap chicken breast for marinated tofu in a few dishes. Not ready to fully give up chicken? You don’t have to! Find ways to alternate your favorite chicken recipe with marinated baked tofu instead. You can find pre-baked tofu in most grocery stores, which will cut down significantly on your cook time and add a healthful, plant-based protein source, rich in healthy oils, to your dish. Add cubed baked tofu to these Mini Plant-Based Pot Pies for protein-packed personal pot pies in under 60 minutes.
- Give jackfruit a try in place of shredded meat. Say what? A high-fiber, low calorie fruit with a neutral flavor and meaty texture, that shreds like pulled meat? Yup. With the right amount of moisture and seasoning, jackfruit can make for an excellent plant-based swap to shredded meat. Swap chicken thighs for jackfruit in this spicy, warming, White Chicken Chili for a plant-powered dish that looks and feels you’re your favorite shredded chicken tortilla soup.
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