Debunking Myths

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Today’s post comes to you courtesy of my dear friend and whole food, plant-base coach, Michelle of Tit Happens

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So, Marilina, you have decided to eat a Whole Food Plant Based Diet for a whole month – how many times have you been asked:  “are you crazy – no meat or dairy??!!”,  “where are you going to get your protein?”, “what about calcium?”, and “how are you going to survive off kale and spinach for a month?”

Well, the reality is, it isn’t hard to eat a filling, satisfying, delicious whole food plant based meal, all while getting the right amount of protein and calcium your body needs.

DELICIOUS SATISFYING MEALS

First, I will address the thought that this diet only consists of kale salads and carrot sticks.  While carrots may cross your plate more frequently than they would in eating a Standard American Diet (SAD), it doesn’t mean you are now the modern day Bugs Bunny.  Rather, a whole food plant based diet involves eating veggies, fruits, seeds, nuts, mushrooms, beans, legumes and whole grains.  With a fridge and pantry full of these foods, the possibilities are close to endless.  Just look at Marilina’s past posts from this month to see the variety of delicious and nutritious meals and snacks we have made and enjoyed together – tacos with guacamole and cashew sour cream, bean burgers with a side of sweet potato fries, chocolate mousse, granola bars, and yes, a kale and cabbage salad.

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WHERE’S THE BEANS – TO HELL WITH THE BEEF!

Okay, so it all sounds delicious, but what about the protein?  Don’t I need to eat at least one Brontosaurus Burger a day to ensure I survive?  The answer to that is straight up, NO!  All of us need protein – it is needed to build and repair tissues – but it is found in so many other foods than just cows, pigs and chickens.  The building blocks of protein are amino acids – which are either created by the body or ingested through the food we eat. There are nine essential amino acids which our body cannot produce and therefore we must get them through our diet.  By eating a variety of plant based whole foods, our bodies will get all the amino acids, and therefore protein, they need.  There is a lot of talk about eating certain foods together to get a complete protein, however, many now believe that is not necessary – as long as your diet consists of a variety of  grains, legumes, and vegetables, your protein needs are easily met.  If you still aren’t sold, feel free to add in a protein shake.

To calculate your daily protein requirements: Body weight (in pounds) x 0.36 = recommended protein intake (in grams). 

  • Sources of plant based protein:
    • Cooked Veggies (1 cup)
      • Peas – 9g
      • Spinach – 5 g
      • Brussels Sprouts – 4 g
    • Cooked Whole Grains (1 cup)
      • Quinoa – 8 g
      • Farro – 8 g
    • Cooked Beans and Legumes (1 cup)
      • Lentils – 18 g
      • Edamame – 17 g
      • Black beans – 15 g
    • Nuts and Seeds (1 oz)
      • Hemp seeds – 10 g
      • Pumpkin  seeds – 9 g
      • Almonds – 6 g

GOT KALE?

Now onto calcium –  if you aren’t drinking milk and eating yogurt and cheese doesn’t that mean your bones are going to start randomly snapping and your teeth are going to crumble the next time you bite into an apple?  NO!  We have been taught that the best sources of calcium comes from dairy, but the reality is the foods that grow out of the ground can easily give us all the calcium we need.

The daily value for calcium is 1,000 mg.  Below is a list of great whole food plant based calcium sources:

  • 1 cup non-dairy milk (fortified nut, hemp + flax) = 200 – 300 mg
  • 2 cups of raw kale = 200 mg
  • 2 tbsp of chia seeds = 180 mg

Kris Carr’s Green Smoothie: 1 cup of fortified almond milk, 2 tbsp hemp seeds, 1/2 cup kale, 1/2 cucumber, 1/2 cup blueberries, 1/2 banana gives you over 500 mg!

The moral of this story is, variety is the spice of life – by eating a variety of plant based whole foods you can get all the vitamins, minerals and amino acids your body needs.  The only exception is vitamin B12 – so if you plan to eat a whole food plant based diet, please consider adding in a B12 vitamin – other than that, enjoy all the benefits that come with eating a diet full of phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals your body will thrive on!

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The delicious whole food, plant-based recipes mentioned above will be posted throughout the week… stay tuned!

To view my Week 25 food journal, click here.