Featured Lifestyle

Eating Plants

March 7, 2018

Benefits of Eating Plants:

For many, it may be hard to think about eating without including meat everyday. However, take a few minutes to consider what it may look like to consume a plant-based diet or I prefer to call it a plant-based nutrition practice; when done right it can be exciting, tasty, and incredibly healthy both for yourself and for the environment. A plant-based diet means eating vegetables, fruits, grains, tubers, and legumes with little to no animal products. You don’t have to give up meat and dairy completely or immediately consider implementing this kind of lifestyle as a process. If that doesn’t sound likely for your personal needs or likes, stick to lean meats and fish in moderation. A plant-based diet can help to reduce the chances of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke by cutting down on saturated fats and cholesterol while also increasing your fiber, vitamin, and mineral intake. It can even help to reduce chances of cancer and help with letting go of excess weight.

Great, so a plant-based diet is clearly an excellent option for your health but it’s also incredibly sustainable and healthy for the environment and those included in the food system.  Some other factors to think about include animal welfare issues, huge amounts of greenhouses gases being released into the environment, major pollution of land and water, and incredible uses of water and other resources. By eating a largely plant-based diet you can cut down your carbon footprint by reducing the amount of resources required to produce the foods you consume and the impacts your choices make on the environment, creating a much more efficient and healthy system. To improve your health and the environment’s why not try out a plant-based nutrition practice? Try going animal product free a few days a week first and then continue increasing your plant sources. Remember! This doesn’t mean you can only eat salad or raw veggies the options are endless, exciting, and diverse.

Wellness Trails

Food can prevent, reverse chronic diseases. Four speakers at the Emerald Physicians Wellness Trails community program presented medical benefits of a plant-based nutrition practice.

Tanner Stening of Cape Cod Healthcare captured the highlights of the program. The Wellness Trails is part a series of educational forums that focuses on the health benefits of switching to a plant-based diet regime. The diet cuts out animal products, processed carbohydrates – like white bread- and sugary treats with an emphasis on consuming primarily fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes, nuts and whole grains.

Dr. Kumara Sidhartha, medical director of Emerald Physicians, led the seminar with a lecture on the diet’s benefits in preventing- and in some cases reversing- a host of chronic diseases. “All of the chronic diseases that we come across, from cancer to arthritis to Alzheimer’s, heart attacks … they all have a common thread, which is inflammation,” Sidhartha said. “So when we attack inflammation through dietary changes, we’re pretty much taking care of all of those primary diseases.” Sidhartha said he was inspired to research plant-based nutrition after seeing its effects on patients with serious diseases, like diabetes, who rejected traditional medicinal therapies in favor of lifestyle changes. He called the diet a “one-stop shop” option. “We’re understanding how the body can recover and regenerate by not eating unhealthy choices,” he said.

For those looking to try the diet, Sidhartha recommends trying three new plant-based recipes every week, switching all dairy to nondairy options and swapping hamburgers for veggie burgers. Following Sidhartha, Dr. Elissa Thompson, medical director of Cape Cod Healthcare Heart Failure Clinic, spoke about the impact of diet on heart health. Heart disease is the number one cause of the death in the U.S. “Cancer is getting worse, but heart disease has really not (changed),” Thompson said. “We’re still not doing very well.” She said the big culprit as it pertains to heart health is high blood pressure, or hypertension. According to Thompson, hypertension is the No. 1 risk factor for death and disability worldwide. And sodium-rich diets exacerbate the problem. Thompson said some 1.6 million annual global cardiovascular deaths are attributable to excess sodium intake. “We know that people who have the lowest sodium intake in their diets have a 32 percent less risk of cardiovascular disease and events,” she said.

Snack Smoothie
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  1. ½ cup blueberries (frozen unless it's summer season)
  2. a handful of spinach
  3. ½ c almond milk (homemade - yes, you can do it!)
  4. 3 tbsp hemp hearts
  1. Blend.
Homemade Almond Milk
  1. Soak 1 cup of almonds overnight. Rinse. Place in a high-speed blender or food processor with 3 cups of water until blended, then pour through a nut-milk bag. Milk will keep 2 - 4 days. You could add flavor to your milk, like vanilla, cinnamon, cacao, maple or use your intuition.
Nutrition from the Ground Up https://nutritionfromthegroundup.com/

Plant food is easy to preserve.

Brine for Pickling by Briget Bride
Makes: 1.5 liters


  •      1-liter apple cider vinegar
  •      500-mL water
  •      2/3 cup honey
  •      1 teaspoon black mustard seed
  •      4 teaspoons coriander seed
  •      3 teaspoons fennel seed


  1. In a medium saucepan, roast the spices on medium heat until they are fragrant.
  2. Add this to the vinegar, water, and honey and bring to a boil.
  3. Use with any veggie that you would like to be pickled.

Photo by Natalie Chitwood

Go with the seasons.

Summer’s bountiful harvest of fresh fruits and vegetables is just around the corner. Do you know the brain benefits of berries and dark leafy greens? According to a study performed at Tufts University, berries and dark leafy greens such as spinach may help prevent or reverse age related declines in cognition and brain functioning. Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and spinach contain disease-fighting antioxidants that protect against inflammation and free-radicals that damage the brain. These foods are at their peak season during the summer months. Buy seasonal and locally grown fruits and vegetables. You’ll get more bang for your buck as these pack a bigger nutritional punch and have more flavor. You can incorporate these brain-boosting foods into your daily meals especially during the summer time.

One word we could use to describe our nutritional process to how we nourish our-SELF,  is practice — the beauty of this approach is that it is shifting our relationship with your food, which will happen over time. Picking out a few in-season fruits and veggies to have on hand and incorporate into your recipes as substitutions is an excellent way to develop your intuitive cooking practice without becoming overwhelmed. Here are a few foraged items that you could experiment with this Spring for FREE:


  • Benefits: High vitamin A, Niacin, Phosphorus, Iron + Vitamin C
  • Storing Guide:  Store in the refrigerator in a container or bag for up to a week or blanch and freeze.
  • Tips: Blanch for 1 minute. Saute in olive oil or coconut oil + add to 1/2 cup cooked grain/potato + protein.
  • Note: only available in April + May.
Garlic Mustard:

  • Benefits: Vitamin C, Fiber + carotenoids
  • Tips: Sauté in olive oil or coconut oil. For a meal, be sure to pair with vegetables, 1/2 cup cooked grain/potato + a protein. Chop + add to salads
  • Storing Guide: Keep in a vase of water
  • Note: Harvest upper stem, leaves + flowers.
Dandelion Greens:

  • Benefits: Vitamins K + A & C. Heals, purifies your blood + settles digestion.
  • Tips: Blanch in boiling water for 20 to 30 seconds. Add to anything, eggs, stew, salad, casseroles or sauté with olive oil or coconut oil. For a meal, be sure to pair with a potato or grain + a protein.
  • Storing Guide: Rinse gently, pat dry, and store them in plastic bags in refrigerator drawer
  • Note: part of the Sunflower family

Photo captured at Project Woods Retreat by Natalie Chitwood

Plant Juice.

Nutritionally speaking, there are many beneficial reasons for you to be a good juicer. Juicing can help you absorb vitamins and minerals – you can think of it as your daily multi-Vitamin.

Juicing aids in digestion and can heal damage that has been done to your GI tract. Just like fruits and vegetables have anti-againg properties, so do their juices. All the nutrients in juices can help boost your immune system and help you body resist + fight infections.Juicing can even improve circulation, enhance brain function + reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

And lastly, my favorite fact is that juicing can reduce the negative effects that stress causes on the body. It is important to recognize that {commercial juices} often contain added sugars, preservatives, + are from concentrate, even though they may not say so on the front of the packaging. By making your own juices, you can avoid these unnecessary chemicals and added sugars. So how do you make a juice? Its easy, and fun! First choose a juicer that works for you. Start small, and then upgrade. {slow juicer, cold-press, or centrifual}. Always add more vegetables than fruit to your juice Choose 1 or 2 fruits to sweeten your juice {such as apple, pineapple, or pear} Try to incorporate greens into every juice {think swiss chard, beet greens, baby spinach, pea greens or kale}

One of my favorite recipes combines {kale + pineapple + orange + fennel + carrot + lemon + ginger}. It makes a fresh, zesty, and sweet tasting juice. The best times for you to juice are before breakfast, mid-morning, or in the afternoon. Drink your juice fresh out of the juicer, or store it in glass containers and it will last for 3 days in the refrigerator.

Photo by Lydia Leclair

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