12-14 May 2017.
Old Truman Brewery,
London.

10 Ways to Add more Plants to your plate

By Bethan Hamilton

‘Plant-based eating’ is a hot topic at the moment. And it’s easy to see why. We’re all a lot more mindful of what we put in our bodies and a plant-based diet is basically about eating the things we’ve always been told to eat a bit more of – fibre from fruits and veggies, and good fats from nuts and seeds. Plus, it’s more sustainable for the planet, so it’s a bit of a win win.
 

With more of us looking to add more plants to our plates, Bethan Hamilton, nutritionist and national educator at Vega®, shares 10 ways to start making your daily meals that little bit greener.


Plant based

Step number one is simple. Build your meals around plant ingredients! A side of vegetables with your meal can often be an afterthought. However, train yourself to focus on vegetables and grains at the start of each meal. I find an easy way to get more fruit and veg into my diet is with a morning smoothie. My fave combos are strawberries with banana, or banana with dates and a pinch of cinnamon. Both combos can be whizzed up with a plant-based drink such as almond. Adding dates gives a caramel flavour which means your smoothie will basically taste like pudding. Yum!

Snack O'Plant

There’s lots of tasty ways to combat cravings in between meal times. Some examples are carrot sticks and hummus, roasted nuts and seeds, or even something as simple as an apple or orange. One of my favourite 3pm go-tos is a date dunked in a little bit of peanut butter. Okay, a lot of peanut butter.



Love Your Freezer

I hate wasting food. Especially fruit and veg. That’s why I’m a big fan of stocking up my freezer. Each morning I can grab a handful of frozen fruit to whizz up a delish breakfast smoothie, and in the evening I add some frozen veggies to a stir fry or make a batch of chunky soup for the week!

Meal Prep Like A Pro

Pre-plan what you’re going to eat during the week. It takes away the stress of late-night rummaging for dinner inspo, and you’ll also use up exactly what you’ve purchased – saving time and money! A personal favourite of mine is using leftover butternut squash to make a comforting risotto for my weekday lunch. That way I’m sorted with a tasty midday meal, Monday – Friday.

Simple Swaps

Instead of using milk in your porridge, try stirring in a plant-based drink such as almond or rice. Or, try topping your pancakes with a dollop of coconut alternative to yoghurt (I recommend Alpro) and a few chopped nuts. You can opt for a ‘Meat Free Monday’ every now and then too. Next time you’re making spaghetti bolognese, swap the mince for lentils and aubergine. And, if you’re feeling super adventurous, I dare you to switch butter for an avocado. Bellissimo!



Add, Don't Subtract

Small, sustainable changes can become part of your everyday lifestyle if you focus on ‘adding’ rather than taking anything away. Start by adding one new plant-based food or meal every day. You can add an extra side of veg to your evening meal, or make a veggie chilli packed with chickpeas and butternut squash. Once you’ve nailed ‘Meat Free Mondays’, give Tasty Veg Tuesdays a try!

Complete Multisource Plant-based Protein

A common worry is that you can’t get all of your protein needs from a plant-based diet. However, simply by including a variety of veggies, beans, nuts, seeds and wholegrains you can get all your essential protein building blocks.

If you want a convenient source of plant-based protein, incorporating Vega® into your diet can make things quick and easy. Vega® Clean* Protein is a complete, multisource blend of premium plant-based protein made from pea, hemp, alfalfa and pumpkin; while Vega® Essentials is high in protein, made from a complete multisource plant-based blend of pea, flaxseed and hemp.



Eat Rainbow Food!

Think Instagram worthy bowls! Layer up with piles of different coloured fruit, vegetables, nuts, beans and wholegrains. Not only will this look like a piece of art, it will help to keep you fuller for longer with the variety of plant-based foods on your plate which all have different amounts of vitamins, minerals and fibre. My go-to photogenic foods are raspberries, brazil nuts and coconut chips.

Socialise

Get your friends and family involved. Invite them round for a chickpea curry, cook up a new dish you’ve seen on Pinterest, or head out to a new pop-up plant-based restaurant. Share your plant-based experiences with friends and family, (or win them over with home-made goodies like these sweet potato brownies!) Why not hold a monthly plant-based supper club with friends, too?

Get Inspired

Follow plant-based bloggers, subscribe to a plant-based magazine or treat yourself to a brand new cookbook. Whatever works for you, there’s a huge variety of plant-based recipes that will inspire you to get in the kitchen and make them from scratch. Build up your own collection of plant-based meals you want to try!

*At Vega®, clean* means: non-GMO, suitable for vegetarians and vegans, gluten-free, non-dairy ingredients. A varied balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle is recommended for good health

For more plant-based inspiration, please visit www.myvega.co.uk, find Vega on Facebook: vegafanpage, or follow them on Twitter and Instagram @VegaTeam_UK.
 
Balance Festival 10 Ways to Add more Plants to your plate