I met the Harvest107 team on my last trip to Haiti— and I am super excited about their garden projects! We are teaming up for a Veg Out Challenge that begins Sunday, January 10th and lasts for 2 weeks!
If you have yet to sign up, be sure to do so HERE. This isn’t a diet challenge, we won’t make you pay for any supplements, it’s FREE to sign-up (you just need to pay for your own food and cook it yourself ), and you can go at your own pace! It’s just a great way to get some extra support for your healthy habits and to learn a few things along the way! We will be sending lots of resources, information, and recipes, as well as daily tips, tricks, and encouragement for eating and living healthier this year!
More About the Challenge:
The Veg Out Challenge is 14 days long and is intended to jumpstart your healthy eating habits for 2016, while also educating about the importance of getting kids in low income communities and countries access to healthy food. The supported challenge is only 14 days long, but you are invited to continue participating afterwards (*this is highly encouraged!). The resources we will be using throughout the challenge are meant to encourage you, guide you with meal planning ideas, as well as educate you about the benefits of eating more plants.
Please know that the challenge is voluntary and that you should go at your own pace. Each day we will provide recipes and meal ideas, but feel free to choose recipes that work for you or venture off to create your own! There are tons of plant-based recipes and options out there. For busy people, you may find that it’s easier to prepare a big batch of something and using it for leftovers for a few days.
Please adjust meals/ recipes based on your dietary needs, allergies, or medical conditions. If you are on medications, consult with your doctor or health team about any drastic changes to your diet or activity you may be making throughout the challenge or time following the challenge.
It’s also important to note that some people may need to adjust portion sizes of recipes recommended or add additional foods to meet their individual nutritional needs.* Needs vary based on age, gender, and activity level. Some tools can help you figure this out, otherwise consult with a registered dietitian.
If you find that you are still hungry throughout the day, try some add ons to the meals or snacks or dish out extra food. Maybe even add another mini-snack to each day. The menu ideas are not necessarily a rigid meal plan, but a tool to help you plan meals, try new things, and be inspired. Feel free to venture out from our suggested ideas— many of the bloggers we are working with have tons of great meal and snack ideas on their websites or even host many of their own plant-based challenges. You may even come up with some of your own recipes during the challenge— and we would love to see them! Be sure to post a picture and tag us on social media! If you have leftovers from meals, these could make fast, tasty meals for the next day! Leftovers are always a great idea for really busy people!
Some great resources to use to get started with the challenge:
Learn how to build a healthy, balanced plate. Meals should contain multiple components— not just simple carbs and proteins, but a balance of nutrients. A simple method for building a healthy, balanced plate is to make:
- ½ the plate non-starchy vegetables (e.g. greens, eggplant, carrots, cucumbers, celery, beets)
- ¼ the plate whole grain (e.g. quinoa, wild rice, brown rice, bulgur, teff, oats, sorghum) OR starchy vegetable (e.g. potatoes, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, sweet potatoes)
- ¼ the plate beans, lentils, or other plant-based protein
- Fruit may be used as a side or a snack
- Add a small amount of a healthy fat (e.g. ¼ of an small-medium avocado, 1-2 tbsp of seeds, 2 tbsp- ¼ cup nuts).
*Mixed dishes won’t be so easy to eyeball, but the idea is there should always be more non-starchy veggies in the dish than anything else. If you are having a mixed dish with very few non-starchy veggies, then make sure to take a smaller portion of the mixed dish and load up on a veggie side. Breakfast may look a little different, with more fruit and less veggies— but don’t limit yourself to veggies only at lunch and dinner. See more at Kaiser Permanente (PDF).
Find inspiration from traditional cultural diets. Many traditional eating patterns from around the world are primarily a plant-based diet. In some regions of the world, like the Mediterranean or Africa, patterns of eating may include small amounts of animal products, but they are used in smaller portion sizes and less frequently throughout the day or week. The diet is based on a pyramid of plant foods. Our challenge will be using all vegetarian and vegan recipes and encouraging people to try more plant-based sources of protein, iron, and calcium. If you eat meat or animal products with no intention of excluding them during the challenge, we suggest challenging yourself to think more about the frequency and portion sizes of the meat and animal products used. Following one of the other heritage pyramids, such as the Mediterranean or African style, would be a great place to start. See more at Oldways.
Hold yourself accountable. Tracking what you eat everyday can be a pain, I know! NutritionFacts.org has created a new app based off Dr. Greger’s new book, “How Not to Die” and the app has a simple check-list of the daily dozen foods you should try to be eating everyday! Every time you eat a serving of something healthy, check it off the list. It is as simple as that! If you don’t have a smartphone, maybe just write the list on a piece of paper and put it on your fridge. Easy tool for keeping yourself on track. Apple users and Android Users
We hope you will join us!!
Happy, healthy new year!
*Websites like Myfitness Pal will give you rough estimate of your daily calorie needs and help you track. Otherwise you can use the USDA’s Supertracker and Daily Food Plans and Worksheets. To note, the USDA information favors animal products like dairy and meats. However, we are encouraging people to use less of these due to health and environmental reasons. Harvard School of Public Health has a great resource explaining more about the science and politics that go into the creation of the US dietary guidelines. Reed Mangels, PhD, RD has developed a Vegan My Plate to help people adopt balanced plant-based diets. Vegetarian, Vegan, and Plant-based eating are safe and recognized by many health organizations including the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Kaiser Permanente, American Academy of Pediatrics, Mayo Clinic, American Heart Association, and even the US Government!