I just returned from a wonderful “healthy vegan cruise” and discovered that March is when we celebrate National Nutrition Month, a campaign which focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. I was so excited when I saw that the theme for 2011 that the American Dietetic Association chose was “Eat Right With Color” since that is literally what I experienced on our vacation.
My husband and I went on a “Holistic Holiday At Sea” and our menu was primarily fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Not only was it delicious and of course healthy….I returned home 7 # lighter! That does not happen very often on a cruise vacation. We both were so impressed with the people, the food and the healthy lifestyle, we returned home committed to eating a plant-based diet. When I looked back at the week of 3 healthy plant-based meals a day, I realized that was the real secret to my weight loss.
According to the CDC, using more fruits and vegetables along with whole grains and lean meats, nuts, and beans is a safe and healthy one. And of course diets rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of some types of cancer and other chronic diseases. Fruits and vegetables also provide essential vitamins and minerals, fiber, and other substances that are important for good health. The following are some suggestions by the CDC to include some of these healthy choices in our diets:
- Substitute some spinach, onions, or mushrooms for one of the eggs or half of the cheese in your morning omelet which adds volume, flavor and fewer calories. On the ship we started each day with a cup of Miso Soup. (This is a traditional Japanese culinary seasoning most often made by fermenting soybeans and/or rice or barley with the fungus kojikin, which results in a thick paste that can be used to pickle vegetables, as a sauce or spread and to make Misochiru (Miso Soup) which is rich in vitamins E and B12, protein and minerals, all of which help boost the immune system). It is a very alkalizing and cleansing soup and I found it quite tasty, so much so that we have decided to include it in our daily diet either to begin the day with or precede our evening meal.
- Instead of filling your cereal bowl to the top with grains, add extra cut-up bananas, peaches, or strawberries which will reduce the calories of the meal.
- One of my favorite breakfasts is with a delicious protein shake that I mix with frozen organic blueberries, fresh organic kale and pure filtered water all pureed in my Vita-Mix. Yum!
Lighten Up Your Lunch
- When preparing your sandwich or wrap, replace part of the cheese and meat (if you are choosing to eat meat), with vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, red radish, sprouts, shredded carrots or red onion. This too reduces calories. On the ship we were served a wonderful guacamole dip with a burrito wrap filled with many of these vegetables along with refried beans. It was really delicious.
- When serving soup for lunch, replace part of the meat or noodles with chopped vegetables such as red pepper, broccoli, carrots and beans, filling you up but not adding more calories.
- Replace one cup of your pasta or rice with broccoli, tomatoes, squash, onions, or peppers.
- Take a good look at your plate. Vegetables, fruits and whole grains should take up the largest portion. If they do not, replace some of the pasta, rice, meat or cheese with legumes, steamed broccoli, asparagus, greens, or another favorite vegetable. And speaking of plates…..do not use a platter, use a small dinner plate to control your servings.
We all enjoy our daily snacks when we get the “munchies” and oftentimes those choices can add up. Knowing that choosing fruits and vegetables are a pretty decent choice calorie-wise can help. The following foods are 100 calories or less:
- 1 medium-size apple (72 calories)
- 1 medium-size banana (105 calories)
- 1 cup of steamed green beans (44 calories)
- 1 cup blueberries (83 calories)
- 1 cup grapes (100 calories)
- 1 cup carrots (45 calories), broccoli (30 calories) or bell peppers (30 calories) with 2 tbsp. hummus (46 calories)
We were able to experience on this cruise a week of beautiful, colorful, mouthwatering, healthy meals and snacks using only the freshest organic ingredients. I have returned home with new eyes about the keys to healthy eating and healing the body which, in turn, maintains long-term health.
Some of the foods we tasted I had never experienced before but learned that, for example, miso helps to repair the intestines and removes heavy metals from the body; shoyu, a naturally fermented soy sauce, aids digestion; that umeboshi plums (that were delicious served with a hot grain cereal) helps to alkalize the blood and keeps the immune system strong; that brown rice enhances the entire body by offering a continuous, even flow of blood sugar and fiber to the body; and that sea vegetables add good quality minerals such as calcium and magnesium to the diet.
I hope everyone has an opportunity to “cruise” at least once in their lifetime; but better yet, “eat right with color” and enjoy what nature has to offer. What about you? Have you experienced any of these healthy choices in your diet?