Monday, January 30, 2017

My Journey Eating a Plant-Based Diet (Week 1)

***This post contains affiliate links.

This is the first post of many that you'll see over the next six months.  I've signed up to participate in a 6-month research study about eating a plant-based, nutrient-dense diet. 

Let me preface this by saying that I participated in a 9-week study last summer with great results.  I was very nervous about the protocol which allowed only one serving per week of animal products.  While I'm not a huge meat eater, I am a self-proclaimed cheese-aholic.  "How in the world would I go without cheese?" I wondered.  As it turned out, I didn't miss cheese very much (after the first few weeks anyway).  I lost 11 pounds and several inches in 9 weeks and felt great.  I even kept it up after the study ended until I injured my jaw in late summer and among other things involved in my treatment, had to go on a soft food diet.  (Let me just tell you... it's very hard to eat plant-based when you can't chew.)

So, here I am six months later with a mostly healed jaw, carrying a few more pounds and lacking the energy I had in July.  I'm so ready to jump back into this way of eating and a research study helps me with accountability as well as a wealth of information and support.

Why a plant-based diet?  Research has shown huge benefits such as decreases in the following: heart disease, inflammation, chronic pain, chronic disease, diabetes, Alzheimers, and depression (to name a few).  Check out the links below for more information:

WebMD Plant-Based Diet Benefits for Heart Health
HealthLine 5 Benefits of Eating a Plant-Based Diet

My plan each week is to share with you some helpful resources that I receive as well as links to great recipes.  It is important to note that I am not a doctor or a dietician.  Be sure to contact a medical professional before jumping into something like this.  (As participants in the study, we were all required to notify our primary care physicians.)

Here's what we are being asked to eat each day:
• At least two 1-1/2 cup servings of greens
At least four 1-1/2 cup servings of other vegetables (which could include more greens)
At least three 1-1/2 cup servings of fruits
One to two 1/2 cup servings of legumes (beans, peas, lentils)
2 tablespoons of raw nuts or seeds
1 to 2 servings of whole grains (serving =1 cup or 1 slice)
healthy fats (like olive oil) in limited amounts
1 serving per WEEK of animal products

The last bullet point is key.  Other than that one serving per week... no meat, no fish, no cheese, no butter, no milk, no half & half, no yogurt, no eggs.  Ugh!  That's what I thought last summer, but it is amazingly easy and you can't imagine how good food can taste without those things.  I'm not necessarily saying they taste better; they're just equally as good.  

My best advice is to not try to recreate familiar foods you love.  Pizza will never taste the same with "fake" cheese.  A veggie burger will never taste like the real thing.  Whatever you make, just take it for what it is.  If you like it, add it to your list of favorites.  If you don't like it, retire the recipe and move on.

The great thing is that we are allowed one serving of animal product per week.  So, if I want cheese pizza, I can have cheese pizza... once a week.

If you're interested in getting started in eating this way, begin by checking out these two resources. 

21 Day Vegan Kickstart
You have to register for the kickstart, but it's free.

Rating the Nutrient Density of Foods
Try to get a score of 250 for breakfast, 500 for lunch, and 500 for dinner.

This past week, I have been loving the following two cookbooks by Angela Liddon:

Oh She Glows Cookbook
Oh She Glows Everyday Cookbook

Here's the link to the veggie burger video:

Here are links to some of the great recipes I made in the past week.

From the Vegan Kickstart:
BBQ Portobellos
Easy Veggie Fajitas
Quinoa Pilaf
Quickie Quesadillas


From Oh She Glows and Oh She Glows Everday:
Vegetable "Cheese" Soup

Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta
Loaded Sweet Potatoes

Overnight Oats

Here's an amazing dessert:
Chocolate Banana "Ice Cream"

And here's my Green Smoothie recipe:

2 large handfuls of mild greens (baby spinach or kale)
1 1/2 cups liquid (water, almond milk, soy milk, etc.  UNSWEETENED)
1 banana
2 other fruits (I like using strawberries and blueberries)
1 tablespoon of chia seeds or ground flaxseeds (if you have a Nutribullet, you can use whole flaxseeds)

If using a Nutribullet, put everything in and blend.  If using a blender (even a Ninja), blend liquid and greens first and then add the fruit and blend again.  (Click HERE for the kind of Nutribullet I have.  I also have a Ninja, but the Nutribullet is better for smoothies.)

Be sure to join me next week for an update on my progress and more great resources. 


  1. Hi Jennifer. Wanted to wish you the very best of journeys to better health. Go girl go! I'm visiting the Plant-based Potluck Party #120 with "Beets are Tops." Check my two blogs, Colors 4 Health ( for many tips and recipes that are whole food plant based. Hugs, Nancy Andres

  2. I'm curious to see what all you make on this journey (and I love that you already know you'll have great results because you've done it before!). Thanks for sharing on the #WasteLessWednesday Blog Hop!

  3. I burn and how many calories I ate until I fade out and have to consult.thanks.

  4. Your blog is very nice,Thanks for sharing.




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