We all know the importance of eating lots of plant-based foods throughout our lives for good health. Plant-based foods are chock full of vitamins and minerals that help fight disease and are good for our whole body, from our hearts and brains to our hair and skin. Research shows that adults who regularly consume vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes are generally those who consumed those foods while children, so be a role model for your family and improve your own health by finding ways to make eating healthy fun.
Why Plant Foods?
Plant foods are an important addition to all diets. Plants contain unique compounds called phytochemicals that maximize our well-being and keep our bodies functioning at their best. Plant foods can also be fantastic sources of protein. Nuts, beans, and legumes are just a few examples. Eating a variety of these protein sources every day maximizes our intake of the variety of nutrients. The almond butter and beet hummus recipes below are a great way to fuel up with plant protein.
In a Nutshell
Nuts are a great source of a wide variety of nutrients, including healthy fats and plant protein. Almonds, for example, provide folate and calcium and are an excellent source of vitamin E and magnesium. They are full of fiber and antioxidants and offer cholesterol-lowering benefits. These nuts are also rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which can promote heart health. The Food and Drug Administration has approved the claim that, “Eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.” Try making homemade almond butter to take advantage of these great benefits without the added preservatives and additives often found in store-bought varieties. Use nut butters as a spread on graham crackers and top with a few chocolate chips for a healthy but delicious dessert instead of a cookie. Add a dollop of nut butter to your morning oatmeal or a spoonful to your favorite smoothie. In addition to all of the disease-fighting nutrients, the protein and fats in these nut butters will help you stay full longer!
Going with the Beet
Beets are one of the many nutritious and readily available red vegetables. Red foods are great choices due to their anti-inflammatory properties that keep our hearts beating strong. Beets contain a phytochemical called betanin that supports healthy blood pressure. Try roasting and steaming beets to make peeling these little gems easier. For a delicious, colorful twist on hummus, puree roasted beets and chickpeas. For a slightly more complex version, see the recipe below. Make a beet pesto by combining roasted beets, walnuts, olive oil, garlic, and Parmesan cheese in a Champion Juicer for a consistent texture, or use a food processor.
An added bonus of snacking on nut butters and dips is that you can use other colorful veggies–such as bell peppers, cucumbers, and carrots–as a vessel for eating them! Crunchy chips like red or blue baked corn chips are great ways to boost color and plant-based foods.
These recipes are made with the Champion Juicer for a smooth consistent texture but you can use a food processor or blender. The best part is the Champion Juicer does all the hard work, so you don’t need to scrape out the side of the blender, start, and stop again. The nut butter or hummus comes out 100% smooth and ready to eat!
- Almonds, raw or roasted –roasted will come out creamier than raw
- Optional: Add a drop of honey or maple syrup if desired
Use raw almonds for a sweet delicate taste or roasted almonds for a more savory flavor. Fit the blank screen of the Champion Juicer (or use homogenizing body) onto the juicer body and fill feed spout about half way with almonds. Turn the juicer on, and continue to feed the almonds into the machine. Be sure to add almonds slowly. Run through twice for a creamier product.
Roasted Beet Hummus
- 1 can Chickpeas
- 2 beets, roasted and cut into chunks
- 1 Garlic clove
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 1 Tsp of Olive oil and 2 tsp of tahini sauce, or tahini butter
Optional: fresh herbs (dill or basil) and sumac for topping
To make green hummus, replace beets with 2 handfuls of fresh spinach. Fit the blank screen (or use homogenizing body) onto the juicer body. Alternate chickpeas, garlic clove, and beets for best flavor melding. Mix in olive oil or tahini until you have your desired taste and texture.
Melissa Halas-Liang, MA, RDN, CDE is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator with a Masters in Nutrition Education who is a nationally recognized childhood nutrition expert. She is founder of SuperKids Nutrition Inc. where she is “saving the world, one healthy food at a time.” Read more about her Super Crew children’s books and discover how good nutrition can help you live your best health potential through her on-line courses blog, Melissa’s Healthy Living.
This post is sponsored by Champion Juicer.