We hear it all of the time, people say that they want to eat a balanced diet but they're confused about how. With all of the conflicting messages about nutrition, it is no wonder that people aren't sure how to bring balance to their plates.
Luckily, it is actually very easy to eat a balance diet, and there's an simple way to know if you're on track. Color!
Beautiful, colorful, radiant plants get their color from their phtyonutrients. My favorite example is sweet potatoes. They get their brilliant and bright orange-ish color from the phtyonutrient and anti-oxidant beta-carotene/vitamin A (great skin, healthy heart, and immune support). That healthy looking kale that you love gets its green vibrancy from chlorophyll, which is full of vitamins and minerals. Black beans and other black and purple foods get their color from a potent antioxidant called anthocyanin. The plant world is full of color!
Obviously you could just eat jelly beans or M&Ms and say you're eating your colors. However, the key is to get those colorful foods from whole food plant-based sources. That means minimally- or unprocessed vegetables, whole grains, fruits, seeds, nuts, spices, mushrooms, and herbs. By eating the rainbow you'll not only be getting plenty of antioxidants; you'll also be consuming plenty of fiber, protein, calories, minerals, and healthy fats (shoutout to green avocado).
Make every meal colorful and pretty. Be sure you've always got some green, some orange/red, and some brown/black/purple in your bowl. Make sure you've got plenty of texture, flavor, and variety. And don't forget to sprinkle some love over it too ;)
A lot of times when I talk to friends or family members who are trying to lose weight, they tell me how they are cutting out oil and fat. They are often convinced that this is the key to getting skinnier, and that fat is generally unhealthy. Now let's look at some facts about fat and see if this is actually true:
- Fat is one of the 3 macronutrients, along with carbs and protein. They are called macronutrients because our body needs them in large quantities to stay alive and healthy.
- Fats are needed in order to absorb a lot of micronutrients such as fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K); that means that if you eat salad all day long without adding any fat the nutrients in the salad won't be optimally absorbed.
- Fats protect us against certain diseases such as osteoporosis. Studies have shown that very skinny women are at way higher risk to get osteoporosis than women with a bit of a fat reserve.
- If we women don't have enough body fat, we risk losing our periods and messing up our reproductive system as our estrogen levels are too low.
- Fat provides energy that keeps us going and helps us to be active.
Bottom line: All fat is not bad, and if we don't include good fats in our diet, we are at risk of harming ourselves in both the short and long term. The key is to eat the right fats, namely the ones that come from plants such as avocados, nuts and seeds. Avoid any processed fats, even oils, as they don't contain any fiber or micronutrients. Stick with 80% carbs, 10% protein and 10% fat when it comes to your diet.
Let’s address the myth “vegans don't get enough protein”.
Plant-based foods have plenty of protein, and it is completely unnecessary to get your protein from animal sources. Since at least the late-70s the government, along with their My Beef Checkoff program, have been trying to grow the American beef industry (and everything that funnels into it), but encouraging Americans to eat more protein––which is then deceptively equated with beef ––as part of a healthy diet. You and I both know that Americans are far less healthy than we were in the 70s. We’re living longer thanks to technology, but we’re getting sick sooner, thanks to our diets. Most notably, in my opinion, our increased consumption of animal products.
Here’s some recent propaganda for you (I found this image on the Beef Checkoff FB page)
What’s insanely misleading about this infographic put out by the federally funded My Beef Checkoff program?
Okay, all of its claims about protein are true!!
Yes, it is a necessary part of a healthy diet. Yes, it helps with feeling full and satisfied after a meal. Yes, it is important for building and maintaining muscle. And yes, “lean” protein may help lower your LDL cholesterol (best if that “lean” protein is plant-based)
BUT NO! You absolutely 100% DO NOT NEED to get this protein from beef, or any other animal protein. To the contrary, animal protein is linked to cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and even alzheimer's.
Let’s make something very clear––protein is NOT a food group.
Protein, like fat and carbohydrates, is a macronutrient found in a wide variety of foods including greens, carrots, bananas, nuts, seeds, sweet potatoes, avocados, and everything in between. It is made up of amino acids that when digested are broken down in your body to perform various functions like muscle repair, replicating cells, and sending signals around the body. Your body needs a balance of amino acids, some it makes itself. Despite what the meat industry would like you to believe, you should not rely on one food group for the majority of your protein. Secondly, you can get all of the amino acids your human body needs from plants.
How much protein do you need?
This depends on your level of activity, metabolism, and other health conditions (pregnancy, body building, athlete, disease, etc). The important thing to focus on is making sure you are getting enough food and calories from a balanced diet. Buddha bowls are fantastic because they include a wide variety of both macro-and micronutrients, and various amino acids in each meal.
If you feel like you are not being nourished and energized by your vegan diet, eat more food and focus on balance.
Balanced Buddha Bowls are a great way to nourish your body while enjoying delicious healthy food. However, despite my love for these one-bowl meals, I can't give up my snacks. I especially like snacks that are crunchy, both savory and sweet are welcome.
I hope you find some snack-spiration in my list!
Best Crunchy & Healthy Snacks
This beautiful breakfast bowl proved to be the most popular recipe from our February Weekend Buddha Bowl Challenge! It is incredibly easy-to-make, delicious, and well-balanced (whole grains, fiber, protein, & healthy fat).
Bon appetit! p.s. We love to see your Instagram photos. Tag us #sobuddhalicious or #buddhabowlchallenge
French Toast Bowl
makes 1 serving. Multiply if needed
2 slices vegan brioche or stale bread, sliced 1-inch thick
1 tbsp ground flax seed + 2 tbsp water (flax “egg”)
½ cup non-dairy milk
½ tsp vanilla
½ tsp cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
½ tbsp coconut oil
1 mango, diced
½ cup fresh raspberries, or mixed berries
½ cup coconut cream or vegan yogurt
¼ cup toasted pecans, or other nuts or seeds
Whisk together the flax “egg”, non-dairy milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Dip the bread in the mixture, and allow it to soak up the liquid on each side.
Heat coconut oil in a skillet on medium heat.
Cook the bread on each side, until golden brown, for 2 minutes.
When cool enough to handle, chop it into quarters, and place in a bowl or plate.
Fill the bowl, or top, with mango, berries, cream, pecans, and maple syrup.
Jenné & Isabelle
We're both passionate vegan foodies with backgrounds in nutrition. We decided to bridge our skills to create Buddhalicious; a program that guides members to find balance, excitement, and flavor on their plates, and in their lives.