The Power Up With Produce Challenge - Daily Tips

Welcome to the Power Up with Produce Challenge!
e87b5fb8d57657bae7c69883f2e0cbc7-huge-poWe know eating more plant-based meals is good for us and the environment. Studies show that a vegetarian diet may:
Promote weight loss
Lower blood pressure
Reduce cancer risk
Limit greenhouse gas emissions

It’s OK if you’re not ready to (or never will) give up animal-based protein like red meat, chicken, or fish. Adding more vegetables to your meals or choosing meatless options more often may give you some of the same health benefits, in addition to having a positive effect on the environment.

Throughout the next 10 days, we’ll offer new ideas to help you eat less meat and more vegetable-based meals.

Day 1
Make swaps on your sub: Let’s start with a low-pressure meal — lunch. If your usual lunch is a sandwich or chef salad, try some meatless options today.

Instead of deli meat, consider sandwich fillers such as:
  • Hummus
  • Guacamole or avocado
  • Cheese
  • Egg salad
  • Sprouts or salad greens
  • Roasted or fresh vegetables
  • Falafel
And if your hearty salad often includes meat, try these ideas instead:
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Nuts
  • Strong cheese (like feta, blue, or goat)
  • Beans or chickpeas
  • Hard-boiled eggs
Post a picture of your vegetarian lunch today on Facebook..

Day 2
Make meat the side dish: Have you considered a “flexitarian” diet? It’s a way of eating that incorporates mostly plants along with meat and fish in moderation. To try this method, use meat as a side dish, instead of the main course. Consider these ideas to load up on the veggies and grains and incorporate smaller amounts of meat:
After your “flexitarian” meal, tell us what you made — and if you liked it — on Facebook.

Day 3
Leave out the meat: A simple way to go meatless is to think of how to make your typical meals without the meat:
  • Skip the bacon and have your eggs with fruit salad.
  • Leave the ham out of your mac & cheese.
  • Replace the beef in your lasagna with spinach or eggplant.
  • Try pesto or marinara instead of Bolognese meat sauce.
  • Top your pizza with mushrooms, spinach, or broccoli instead of pepperoni or sausage.
Day 4
Experiment with veggie protein: Next time you’re in the supermarket, check out the meat substitute section. Some meat alternatives found in the produce section include:
  • Tofu: A block of condensed soy milk with a soft, cheese-like consistency. Try some of these tofu recipes from Good Housekeeping.
  • Tempeh: A firm patty made from fermenting soybeans in banana leaves. Tempeh contains more than 31 grams of protein per cup. Try some tempeh recipes from
  • Seitan: A type of wheat gluten that is repeatedly cooked and rinsed until the starch is removed. Try these seitan meatballs from Vegetarian Times.
The frozen food aisle has even more options, including:
  • “Sausages”
  • Breaded “chicken” patties
  • Soy “crumbles,” similar to ground beef
  • “Burgers” or patties made of beans, vegetables, and grains
Day 5
Go global: Many of those vegetarian substitutes you spotted in the grocery store originated from other cultures. Tofu is a staple in Asian cooking, while tempeh is often found in Indonesian recipes.

Many international cuisines have delicious vegetarian meals. See if you can incorporate some of these veggie-packed and meatless recipe ideas:
  • Mexican: tacos, quesadillas, and bean soups
  • Indian: curry, dosas (stuffed savory pancakes), and paneer (cheese)
  • Thai: pad thai, stews, and spring rolls
Are there any vegetarian recipes that are part of your culture? Tell us on Facebook.

Day 6
Start with soup: If you want to add more plant-based foods to your diet, try beginning your meals with a filling vegetarian soup. Research suggests that eating soup before a meal leads people to eat less in general. So, if you start with soup, it makes sense that you’d eat less meat too! Try some of these healthy, vegetable-based soups:
Day 7
Get your grains on: Use healthy whole grains as the basis of your meals to reduce or even eliminate the meat. Tonight, try planning your dinner around a grain. Start with the grain (think quinoa, brown rice, couscous, or bulgur) and then add cooked vegetables, sauces, spices, and nuts. Best of all, not only are grain bowls easy dinner options, the leftovers pack well for lunch the next day. Need ideas? Try one of these grain bowl recipes from Cooking Light.

Day 8
Discover new plant-based recipes
Today, seek out veggie recipes. Revisit some of your favorite cookbooks, searching specifically for vegetarian dishes. Or peruse sites and blogs dedicated to vegetarian recipes and meal ideas:
Another way to find vegetarian recipes is to invite other health-minded friends over for a vegetarian potluck. Ask guests to bring printouts of the recipes they make. Everyone will leave the party with new veggie-friendly ideas.

Did you find a great site with easy veg-friendly recipes? Share it on Facebook!

Day 9
Focus on non-GMO, locally-sourced foods:
Many plant (and animal) foods produced in the U.S. come from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). This means that the organism was altered in a laboratory to make it heartier, taste better, or have a more vibrant color. Although the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) considers GMOs to be safe to consume, there are no long-term studies on their effects yet. That’s why it’s a good idea to consume them in moderation and to look for organic options when available.

A way to do that is to frequent farmer’s markets or food coops. At those places, you’re likely to meet the farmer who grows the food or cares for the livestock and can tell you about its origins, pesticides used, and if the items are genetically modified.

You can also join a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program. When you participate in a CSA, local produce from a nearby farm is delivered to your door a certain number of times per month. Since the food products are likely to be from a local farm, they’ve traveled a shorter distance and are fresher than those that come from across the country — or from other countries.

Day 10
Try a vegetarian or vegan restaurant: Next time you eat out, consider dining at a vegetarian restaurant. Just perusing the menu will give you new ideas. And you might discover some new favorite dishes and foods.

Congratulations on completing the challenge! How’d it go? How do you plan on incorporating these new vegetarian meals into your regular meal plan? Tell us on Facebook.

Posted by Jaime M Dawson on Jan 16, 2019 8:49 AM CST

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