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A Kitchen Inspired by Plant-Strong Eating

 Tiffany G. Smith A Kitchen Inspired by Plant-Strong Eating
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I have a problem; I love to eat. We all know there’s an unspoken difference in eaters – one group eats to live, because it sustains them. The other group eats as a sport; it’s a hobby or a passion. I fall into the latter category. Not only do I get excited about finally tasting a creation, I enjoy the journey and learning in making something new; and this goes for any food – healthy or not.

A few modifications to this Date-Nut Fruit Pie made a beautiful dessert packed with flavor and nutrients.

The occasional problem with having a passion for food is that there’s often no restriction in my diet aside from my lack of meat intake which is by choice. Sure I am conscious of my portions, but if I want some cheese, I’ll eat it. If a co-worker is sampling out a new chocolate bar or recipe for our kitchen, I’ll taste it without taking into consideration the calories it adds to my day or the health benefits that food may or may not have. Being driven to try something new really captivated me after a recent conversation with a friend who, for the past 90 days, has been eating plant-strong.

Her journey started by participation in an Engine 2 28-Day Healthy Eating Challenge, but she felt so good doing it that she just didn’t stop after 28 days. Inspired, I went home that very evening and whipped up some scrumptious plant-strong Stuffed Peppers thinking, “Hey, it might be fun to challenge myself, learn some new cooking techniques and, hopefully, improve my health in the process.” Off we went.

This sweet potato burger makes plant-strong eating easy.

Eating plant-strong means exactly that, using plants to their full potential for nutrition and adapting your favorite recipes or creating new ones that utilize fruits, veggies, whole grains. Veganism and plant-strong, although seemingly similar, are not. Although, in this process, I have utilized several vegan recipes and made them plant-strong. The big differences between the two schools of thought are:

1) Many processed foods are considered vegan and those are usually foods that plant-strong eaters avoid. Plant-strong diets rely on from-scratch cooking or meal preparation.
2) Veganism is a lifestyle that involves avoiding animal products in everything from food to beauty products to clothing. The roots and intentions are motivated by a personal commitment to animals.

A true 28-Day Challenge recommends at the start that you clean your cupboards and refrigerator of any junk food that might be lurking in its deep, dark corners and replace it with fruits, veggies and whole grains. We’re relatively healthy eaters at home to start with and I didn’t want to deny my fiancé of ice cream – let’s just say, the wedding might be called off if I even thought that was an option – so it stayed and I found an all-fruit raspberry sorbet to satiate my evening ice cream cravings. It also recommends that you test your body’s BMI and lipid levels to gauge your success in four weeks. Well, I wasn’t officially starting a 28-Day Challenge when I started this process so I didn’t do that either. Oops.

White bean and tomato orzo with spinach pesto.

With the exception of trying to eat out and a dinner party where the cheesecake got the best of me, I haven’t had much trouble changing my diet over the course of the last month. With the help of the E2, Forks Over Knives and Happy Herbivore websites, in addition to Pinterest and a number of vegan food blogs, I’ve started my mornings with an array of fruit laden smoothies or granola over coconut or soy yogurt.

Lunches have consisted of big salads, dishes concocted of rice and veggies with a GT’s Kombucha or leftovers from the previous night’s dinner which have all been scrumptious if I do say so myself! I’ve replaced milk with almond milk, coffee creamer with SO Delicious Coconut Creamer, and cheese with…well, I haven’t really found a replacement for cheese that I like but I’m preparing for an adventure in making this Mac & “Cheese” recipe tonight. If you’ve got tips for the cheese debacle, let me know!

By far, my favorite recipe took on my sweet tooth with a vengeance and won. The Engine 2 Date-Nut Fruit Pie, not only looked beautiful, but it was so good that even my teenage nieces and nephews adored it. In addition to the fruit the recipe calls for, I added grapefruit, mangoes and a dollop of cultured coconut milk to act as a whipped cream. Win!

A few of my other favorite meals were White Bean and Tomato Orzo with Spinach Pesto, Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers and Vegetable Soup with Ravioli. They were all fiancé-approved and kept really well for multiple meals which is something I find is essential to my sanity. Although I had a few instances where I fell “off the wagon,” I feel good about the changes we’ve adopted. I didn’t test my biometrics at the start of this journey, but I feel healthier and a little lighter.

The best part of it all is the boost in energy I’ve had which has helped me reduce the amount of coffee I drink to only a cup a day – bonus! I’m sure I’ll hit a few more bumps down this road, but plant-strong eating is here to stay at our house.

Do you have any tips, tricks or favorite recipes that are essential to your healthy eating regime? If so, I’d love any advice I can get to continue to challenge myself with this journey. Send an email to [email protected].

With “A Kitchen Inspired” we will share with you the current and up and coming ingredients, products and cooking methods that inspire our team members, chefs and the kitchen at Whole Foods Market Dublin.

Founded in 1980 in Austin, Texas, Whole Foods Market (wholefoodsmarket.com, NASDAQ: WFM), is the leading natural and organic food retailer. As America’s first national certified organic grocer, Whole Foods Market was named “America’s Healthiest Grocery Store” by Health magazine. The company’s motto, “Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet”™ captures its mission to ensure customer satisfaction and health, Team Member excellence and happiness, enhanced shareholder value, community support and environmental improvement.

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