Top Tips for Planning a Plant Food Based Menu

Healthy lunch table scene with nutritious lettuce wraps, Buddha bowl, vegetables, sandwiches, and salad. Overhead view over a white wood background.

The holiday season provides an opportunity for trying new seasonal recipes, but for many, it can also be a season of overindulgence. This year, Dr. Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, and the team at his nonprofit organization NutritionFacts.org, offer suggestions for how to incorporate more plant food into this season’s holiday menus.

According to Dr. Greger, “When it comes to assessing which dishes to choose, the question isn’t whether sides are healthy or unhealthy, but whether they are more or less healthy when compared with another option. It is about making the best choices possible and including an abundance of vegetables and fruits on your plate.”

NutritionFacts.org’s Top Holiday Menu Tips:

  1. Select at least two non-starchy vegetables and one fruit to include on the menu, but the more the merrier. Kale, collards, carrots, Brussels sprouts, and green beans are just a few examples of non-starchy veggies.
  2. Prepare sides without oil and butter. Vegetables and whole grains can be prepared with water or vegetable stock, herbs, and spices; the result is just as delicious as the more calorically-dense oily versions.
  3. Eat your greens and other non-starchy vegetables first. These foods are filled with fiber, vitamins, and minerals, to keep you nourished and satisfied before tasting some of the more indulgent foods.
  4. Transform dishes traditionally made with meat and dairy into plant-based versions. Instead of meatloaf, try a grain loaf recipe. Instead of potatoes made with cream and butter, whip up mashed potatoes prepared with roasted garlic, a splash of unsweetened plant milk, and fresh chives.

Eating a plant-based diet improves the health of your gut so you are better able to absorb the nutrients from food that support your immune system and reduce inflammation. Fiber can lower cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar and it’s great for good bowel management. Fiber is very important for reducing your cancer risk. This is especially true for your risk for the third most common cancer: colorectal cancer.

A plant-based diet reduces your risk for other diseases too. The benefits of eating mostly plants are not limited to reducing your cancer risk. A plant-based diet also has been shown to reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some mental health illnesses.

More information regarding evidence-based health and wholesome recipes can be found at www.nutritionfacts.org.

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