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The Well-Intentioned Eater: Healthy Diet Tips For 2014

One inquisitive omnivore’s journey towards healthier and more compassionate eating…

(Click here for why I started)

(MEATLESS/VEGETARIAN/VEGAN) Happy New Year!

I’ve never been a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, but I do stop to think about the things I’d like to change and make better. This year there’s probably more than I’d like to admit, but even so I’m very hopeful.

2014 is the year to resolve to eat healthier. Tips for a vegetarian and vegan diet./Photo credit: thegrio.com

2014 is the year we resolve to eat healthier and more compassionately. Photo credit: thegrio.com

Eating healthier and more compassionately has usually been on the top of my list, but as 2013 comes to an end I think I’ve finally got a better handle on things. Now I’m not saying my eating habits are perfect, but I’ve definitely made some healthy, positive changes—ones I plan to carry into 2014 and hopefully continue to improve on.

Here’s a list of my top three positive changes:

A NutriBullet spinach, kale, blueberry & apple smoothie with protein and flaxseed for an extra power boost of omega-3's./Photo credit: Lisa Singe

A NutriBullet spinach, kale, blueberry & apple smoothie with protein and flaxseed for an extra power boost of omega-3′s. Photo credit: Lisa Singe

  1. My Nutribullet — My friends laugh at the way I rave about it, but honestly starting off every day with all of those fruits and vegetables is a big deal for me. I used to just have coffee or a bagel. Now, I still have the coffee, but in addition to all of the vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants I get from the spinach, kale, blueberries, apples, flaxseed, etc. in my smoothie, it’s also simple (which is key for me), fills me up, and tastes great! (Click here for recipe)
  2. Realizing not all meat substitutes consist of unsatisfying faux-products or high carbs and salt content — There were a few missteps, but I did find some tasty and healthy meat alternatives like Morning Star Farms’ Garden Veggie Patties, Quorn’s Vegan Burgers, and Gardein’s Chick n’ Strips. Though I think my aha moment occurred when I finally stopped comparing them to burgers and chicken and just enjoyed them on their own.
  3. Meat isn’t the only good source of protein — Whenever I wanted to lose a few pounds or get in shape quickly, I’d turn to a high protein diet. Protein helps maintain lean tissue while burning fat for fuel. It also takes longer to digest, so we feel fuller longer. Of course I know it’s better to follow a well-balanced diet, but let’s face it, sometimes we just don’t/can’t. Most of us at one time or another gain some weight and want a quick start to get back on track. It’s that instant gratification that helps motivate us. I always thought lean chicken or fish was the only way to achieve that, but now I know better.
 Beans are an excellent source of protein. Supercharged with antioxidants, low in fat and high in fiber, they're a delicious addition to any plant-based diet./Photo credit: tahtonka.com

Beans are an excellent source of protein. Supercharged with antioxidants, low in fat and high in fiber, they’re a delicious addition to any plant-based diet./Photo credit: tahtonka.com

My favorite vegetarian and vegan protein-rich foods for getting back on track:

  • Beans — There are lots of varieties of beans, including black, kidney, pinto, and my most recent discovery, cannellini. Though they all have different tastes and textures, the one thing they have in common is high amounts of protein—about 15-19g per cup.
  • Nuts — You can’t eat too many because they’re high in calories and fat, but in controlled portions they’re an excellent source of protein. My go-to nuts are pistachios—49 nuts have 4g protein and 160 calories. I buy them in their shells so I’m not tempted to over indulge.
  • Dairy — Eggs (5g/egg,), cheese (7g/ounce), and non-fat plain Greek yogurt (24g/cup) are all great sources of protein. Boil a bunch of eggs on Sunday and you have a quick snack or meal for the rest of the week. Instead of protein powder, I sometimes use plain Greek yogurt for a creamier morning smoothie and cheese is always a staple of mine (though unfortunately not more than 2 ounces when dieting—I usually opt for part-skim mozzarella, 6g fat and 85 cal/ounce).

Here’s to a healthier and more compassionate new year! It’s definitely a work in progress, but I think we’re off to a good start.

— Lisa Singer, exclusive to Global Animal

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