By now I'm sure most of you know that I'm a huge advocate of eating your fruits and vegetables. There's is just no comparison in my mind between food from the earth and food from animals and packaged/processed foods. The colors, the nutrients, the vitamins, the minerals, and the lack of trans fats, saturated fats and cholesterol found in plant-based foods make plants disease fighting powerhouses! Oh, and the natural flavor of plant foods is unbeatable in my mind (although it did take a while for my taste buds to adjust at first!)
You also know that I live with a man who still eats animal products and packaged foods, and that's okay with me! In fact, no one else in my family or close friend circles is vegetarian, let alone vegan. I don't want to force my diet upon anyone or look down on anyone that eats differently than I do. Personally, I've just found that I thrive off plant foods and have less digestive problems and more energy when I'm eating food from the earth. I love that I don't have to count calories or exercise excessively to maintain a healthy weight and body. Yet while I don't want to force my diet on anyone, I do desire for more Americans to eat more fruits and vegetables (and no, I don't consider french fries a vegetable or tomato sauce on pizza a fruit!), but mainly because I believe eating more nutrient dense foods would free us from many preventable diseases and yo-yo dieting.
One thing I do love to do for others is introduce them to how delicious plant-based foods can be! One of the greatest joys I receive is when people try out my recipes or eat my plant-based entrees and find that they actually enjoy plant foods they've never tried before. I love when I can share with people that you can make milk from nuts, bake without butter or eggs, and make ice cream from bananas. I love serving entirely vegan meals to lots of men and having them be pleasantly surprised that they enjoyed a meal without meat, and actually felt better afterwards too!
Another thing I love to do is share with people the benefits of eating a plant-based diet. I know when my family, especially my parents, found out that I was going vegan, they were concerned that I wouldn't be getting all the nutrients I needed. While eating more plant-based foods screams "more nutrients" to me, there are a lot of misconceptions about eating a plant-based diet, including the well-known protein concern. That's why I love to read books about the nutritional benefits of plants so that I can help alleviate any concerns others may have regarding plant-based diets.
Recently I read Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman, M.D. and I loved it! Really, you should stop reading this post and go read that book. Of course, I know I'm biased towards any book promoting a plant-based diet, but I felt that Dr. Fuhrman explained the nutritional benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables (especially leafy greens) in such an understandable way. Today I thought I would share with you some of my favorite sections or quotes from this book. Maybe you'll learn something new about the benefits of plants like I did! Of course reading the book in its entirety would give more weight to these quotes and provide more background to them, but since I'm not the best at summarizing, I'll just write some of the facts I discovered below to wet your appetite. Also, stay tuned until the end of this post for a fun way to incorporate more veggies into your diet: Raw Vegan Veggie Collard Wraps!
Quotes from Eat to Live:
"Most vegetables contain more nutrients per calorie than any other food and are rich in all necessary amino acids. For example, romaine lettuce, which gets 18 percent of its calories from fat and almost 50 perfect of its calories from protein, is a rich powerhouse with hundreds of cancer-fighting phytonutrients that protect us from a variety of threatening illnesses."
"Which has more protein--oatmeal, ham, or a tomato? The answer is that they all have about the same amount of protein per calorie."
"I see twenty to thirty new patients per week, and I always ask them, 'Which has more protein--one hundred calories of sirloin steak or one hundred calories of broccoli?' When I tell them it's broccoli, the most frequent response I get is, 'I didn't know broccoli had protein in it.' I then ask, 'So where did you think the calories in broccoli come from? Did you think it was mostly fat, like an avocado, or mostly carbohydrate, like a potato?'"
"Regardless of the many opinions on adequate or optimal protein intake, most plant foods, except fruit, supply at least 10 percent of calories from protein, with green vegetables averaging about 50 percent."
"Almost any assortment of plant foods contain about 30 to 40 grams of protein per 1,000 calories. When your caloric needs are met, your protein needs are met automatically. Focus on eating healthy natural foods; forget about trying to get enough protein."
"Did you know that 100 calories of broccoli is about 12 ounces of food, and 100 calories of ground sirloin is just one ounce of food? With green vegetables you can get filled up, even stuffed, yet you will not be consuming excess calories. Animal products on the other hand, are calorie-dense and relatively low in nutrients, especially the crucial anti-cancer nutrients."
"Green vegetables have the most protein per calorie of all the above: bananas, brown rice, baked potatoes, meat loaf, frozen peas, lentils, Burger King Cheeseburgers, and tofu."
I hope you learned some fun new facts about plant-based foods, especially vegetables, that will increase your desire to consume more plant-based foods. I highlighted so many more sections/quotes from the book, but your really need to read it for yourself to get the big picture.
Whether you've read the book or not, or whether you follow a plant-based diet or not, I'd love to hear your thoughts! For me, the more I learn about the benefits of eating a diet rich in plants, especially nutrient dense vegetables, the more I want to eat them. Many of the diseases that plague Americans could be alleviated by changing the way we eat. I know I can't control how long I live (God's got that taken care of in my mind), but I do know that I can play a role in my quality of health and life. I want to fill my body with nutrient dense foods so that I can have the energy and health I need to love others well.
That's why I'm always trying to think of creative ways to eat more whole, ripe, raw fruits and veggies! There are definitely times when I'd rather eat something less nutritious, but the more fun, creative and flavorful I can be with vegetables, the more I desire to eat them. The Raw Vegan Veggie Collard Wraps are a great way to swap out a tortilla for a dark, leafy vegetable. Today I'm going to share with you a fully raw recipe where I used julienned cucumbers, carrots, and bell peppers, sliced tomato, and a portobello mushroom cap marinated in a lemon juice based marinade. However, there really is no perfect way to make a collard wrap. You can honestly fill them with whatever your heart desires! Use your favorite veggies and even spread some hummus inside for extra creaminess and flavor. Get creative and share with me what you love to put in your wraps!
- 3-4 large collard green leaves
- 1 portabello mushroom, cleaned and sliced into ½ inch slices
- juice of 1 lemon
- a few shakes of tamari
- pinch of ground corriader
- Sliced tomato
- Favorite vegetables, (julienned cucumber and peppers, shredded carrots, etc.)
- fresh herbs (cilantro, parsley, mint, etc.)
- optional: spread of choice (imashed avocado, url href="https://theconscientiouseater.com/easy-oil-free-hummus-recipe/" title="Easy Oil-Free Hummus Recipe"]Easy Oil-Free Hummus[/url, Cilantro Lime Hummus
- Place your sliced mushroom into a shallow bowl and pour the fresh lemon juice over top of it, as well as a few shakes of tamari and a few pinches or ground corriander. Set aside to marinate.
- Prepare your collard wraps by washing your collard leaves and then trimming the stems of the collards leaves at the base of the leaves. Do this by using a very sharp knife to horizontally shave off some of the thickness of the remaining stem so that it lays flat and even. You can also use a vegetable peeler to do this. (see pictures above!)
- Assemble your collard wraps by spreading your mashed avocado or hummus (not raw) across each trimmed leaf. Then layer some of the filling ingredients on each wrap including your marinated mushroom, sliced tomato, prepared vegetables, and fresh herbs. Gently fold the sides of the leaves inwards and roll the wrap into a neat, burrito-like package.
- Slice in half, dip in your favorite dressing, or enjoy as is!