Now that you’re halfway done with the challenge, I invite you to take a moment to reflect on how you’re feeling after eating greens and whole grains every day. How’s your energy? What about your mood? Have your cravings shifted? Any other positive changes to take note of? It’s amazing the difference you can feel in just two weeks with such simple additions to your diet.
For those of you who missed week one and/or week two, no worries! You can start at any time. Set your own start date for the challenge, read along on the blog, and reap the benefits of taking care of your body, mind and spirit.
And now for week 3…
WEEK THREE: Protein Power
Oh how easy it would be if there was one way of eating that was the “right” way. Instead, we’re all different and thus have different dietary needs. For example, eating meat might make one person sick, whereas another might thrive with a little bit in their diet.
That said, the typical western diet tends to involve way too much meat; we are a culture obsessed with protein, and when people think of protein they often think of it’s animal based forms (meat, chicken, eggs, fish, dairy). Consequentially, super healthy and protein-rich plant-based foods such as whole grains, beans, seeds, nuts and soy often go ignored.
This week, we’re turning our attention to beans in particular. High in iron, B vitamins, calcium and fiber, beans are an incredibly nutritious, versatile and inexpensive way to add plant-based protein into your diet.
How to Eat Them
- Explore. There are so many types of beans to try such as lentils, adzuki, cannellini, black, chickpeas, great northern, lima, kidney, pinto, navy, mung, cranberry, black-eyed peas, split peas, fava and anasazi. Each has a unique flavor, size and use.
- Digestibility. If you aren’t used to eating beans or have trouble digesting them, start with smaller varieties such as lentils, mung and adzuki beans. To enhance the digestibility of beans, soak overnight and cook with spices, vinegar, and/or a strip of kombu.
- Cook Extra. Cooking beans can be time consuming. Doubling the amount you make and keeping the leftovers will save you tons of time at future meals. Leftovers stay good in the fridge for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for a few months.
- Can It. If you simply don’t have time to cook beans, buy canned. Look for BPA-free cans, and be sure to drain and rinse the beans before consuming them.
- Use them in… soups, chili, dips, hummus, side dishes, salads, or as a base for veggie tacos!
Week Three Challenge
- Incorporate beans into your daily routine.
- Try one type you’ve never had before.
- Continue to eat greens and grains every day.
- Be sure to drink plenty of water! The daily recommendation is half your body weight in ounces.
A Note on Meat…
If/when you eat meat, do so in moderation and focus on quality! Here are some tips:
- One portion of meat is 3 oz and will fit in the palm of your hand
- Make sure your plate is filled at least 3/4 of the way with a variety of plant-based food. The remaining 1/4 can be meat.
- Focus on organic, grass-fed, pasture raised, antibiotic & hormone-free, cage-free. If you can, find out exactly where your meat is coming from so you can be sure the animal was treated well and therefore healthy. Not only will you be supporting animal rights, but you’ll actually get more nutrients from a healthy animal than an unhealthy one.
Joanna Berman is a holistic health counselor, writer, recipe developer, 500-hour certified yoga teacher, and the Content & Communications Manager at YogaWorks and MyYogaWorks. She believes in finding balance, figuring out what makes you feel your best, and most importantly enjoying the process. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram at @peppermysalt for all things food and yoga, including in-post recipes! peppermysalt.com