What’s for dinner is a common question asked and answered almost daily by every family in the world. Here in America, the choices abound. Eating in or eating out. Eating at a sit-down restaurant or running to a drive-thru? What cuisine? Italian? Mexican? Indian? Chinese? Japanese? The list is never-ending, proving that we are very spoiled as a nation.
Dining in may offer less variety, but still, most of us have a full pantry and fridge. I have a walk-in pantry that is larger than most people’s closets, and if you saw it, you would swear a chef lived here! That is because we love food, real food, tasty and healthy food!
Our pantry is not full of boxes, bags, cans, and jars – of course, there are some – but typically, they would be broths, diced tomatoes, chickpeas, or various types of canned beans for the quick foods and soups we make. You would also find oats, breads, quinoa, nuts, seeds, oils, and some of our favorite quinoa chips. Much of it is full of whole beans, organic grains, drawers of spices, and shelves of cooking liquors (that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it).
One whole section is devoted to appliances like a Whisper Mill Grain Grinder, a food processor, a stand mixer, a home-made ice cream maker, and so much more. Why do I tell you all of this?
Because we choose plants for dinner! The flavors are abundant, the colors brilliant, and the nutrition value is unparalleled! So I ask you to join the “PLANTS FOR DINNER CHALLENGE!”
Eating a plant-forward diet is always a good thing. You do not have to become vegetarian, just eat more plants! Randomized clinical trials and large population studies prove that a change to a Mediterranean-style diet has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, certain cancers (specifically colon, breast, and prostate), depression, and in older adults, a decreased risk of frailty, along with better mental and physical function as we age. Vegetarian diets have also been shown to lower the risk of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and increase longevity.
Plant-based diets offer all the necessary protein, fats, healthy carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals for optimal health, and are higher in fiber and phytonutrients. They can reduce inflammation, support the immune system, control weight, increase energy levels, and so much more! I’m in and have been for 20+ years!
Take my “PLANTS FOR DINNER CHALLENGE”
And write to tell me about it. Here are a few of the benefits the recipes I have provided!
Kale is rich in antioxidants, calcium, fiber, and vitamins A, C, and K, as well as the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. Kale also provides plant-based omega-3 fatty acids and 18 amino acids. Studies suggest kale can help reduce your risk of heart disease because it optimizes your cholesterol, including raising your high-density lipoprotein (HDL).
Cauliflower contains an impressive array of nutrients, including fiber, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and B vitamins. Cauliflower is also packed with natural antioxidants such as beta-carotene, kaempferol, quercetin, rutin, vitamin C, and others, which defend against free radicals.
Sweet Potatoes are not a potato at all. They are in the morning glory family and are lower in starch than yams which are tubers like a potato, but both are healthy and nutrient-dense. Compounds in sweet potatoes could help control blood sugar. When boiled, sweet potatoes are low on the glycemic index and won’t raise your blood sugar as quickly. They can lower your LDL.
Black Beans are full of protein and cholesterol-lowering fiber. They contain quercetin, saponins, and selenium which can protect the heart and prevent cancer cell growth. Calcium and phosphorus to strengthen bones. They are low in sodium and contain potassium, magnesium, and calcium found to naturally decrease blood pressure. They also aid digestion and weight loss.
SO, what’s for Dinner? Plants!
Here are some of my favorites. You can start tonight
Black Bean & Sweet Potato Burger
*Makes 4 Patties
- 1 sweet potato, chopped into small cubes
- 1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 cup cooked brown rice (make it the day before and put it in the fridge over-night for resistant starch)
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. pepper
- Coconut oil or vegetable broth (for roasting)
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- Toss potatoes with 1 tsp. oil/broth.
- Roast for 20-25 minutes, turning once or twice during roasting. Remove and cool.
- Placed rinsed beans in large bowl and mash.
- Heat 1 Tbsp. oil/broth in a sauté pan over medium heat.
- Add the onion and garlic and cook until lightly browned and add to the mashed beans.
- Add the cumin, salt, pepper to taste.
- Add the sweet potatoes and rice to the bowl. Mix very well and form into patties.
- Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
- Top with avocado cumin dressing and your favorite burger toppings.
Avocado Cumin Dressing
- 1 avocado
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 2 Tbsp. live juice
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 to 1-1/2 cups of water, depending on desired consistency
Pulse all ingredients in a blender until smooth and serve on these “burgers”
This cruciferous veggie not only provides fiber, but it is also a great and tasty substitute for rice. Just finely chop or pulse in a food processor until it resembles rice, then warm a pan with little olive oil or coconut oil, add riced cauliflower, salt and pepper, and sauté until tender and slightly browned. Enjoy!
My Kale Salad
- ½ cup lemon juice
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp raw organic sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 bunch kale, cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 large tomato, cut into bite-size pieces
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup roasted sunflower seeds (out of the shell)
- Roast hulled sunflower seeds in a dry hot skillet until golden brown, using a wooden spoon to stir often to prevent burning.
- Whisk lemon juice, oil, sugar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
- Add kale, tomato, roasted sunflower seeds, and cranberries; toss to combine.
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– STEPHANIE WOLFE, NBC-HWC