It’s Easy To Add Plant-Based Foods To Your Meals

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When you think of plants in your diet, you’re probably thinking about fruits and vegetables.

Truth is, there are five groups of plants that we see in our everyday diet! They are fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and legumes. Eating plant-based foods from these categories will help support your immune system, reduce inflammation, aid in weight loss, and keep you feeling full throughout the day, advises Tori Sedlmayer, Premier Health dietetic intern.


Fruit contains a variety of vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants. Fruit also has some fiber content that will help you feel full throughout the day. A serving of fruit will provide you with 15 grams of carbohydrates and about 60 calories. A serving would equal one small apple, a half cup of grapes, two tablespoons of dried fruit, or four ounces of 100% unsweetened fruit juice. Fruit is a great option for dessert or pairs great with a protein source — such as cheese or peanut butter — for a mid-day snack


There is a wide variety of vegetables that are all nutrient dense. One serving of vegetables is equal to five grams of carbohydrates, two grams of protein, and about 23 calories. A serving would be considered a half cup of cooked vegetables or one cup of raw vegetables. Veggies go well at any meal as a main or side dish, or you can pair them with dips like hummus as a snack.

Whole Grains

Whole grains contain all parts of the grain seed of a plant. Whole grains and food made with whole grains give you ample amounts of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It’s recommended to try to have half of your grain intake be whole grains. A serving of grains would include 15 grams of carbohydrates, three grams of protein, one gram of fat, and about 80 calories. An example of a serving size would be one slice of bread, or one-third of a cup of cooked brown rice or quinoa.

Nuts And Seeds

Nuts and seeds are a good source of unsaturated fats and have small amounts of fiber and protein. A serving of nuts is five grams of fat and about 45 calories. Note that a portion size of nuts is very small. For example, a serving size of peanuts is 10 nuts. It’s important to watch your serving sizes when consuming nuts and seeds.


Legumes are a great source of protein. Tofu, which is made from soybeans, is actually one of two plant-based proteins that contain all essential amino acids. Carb content varies among plant-based proteins, so it’s important to check food labels to find the exact amount of carbohydrates, protein, and fat in a serving size.

How To Add Plants To Your Diet

Now you might be thinking, that’s a lot of plants that I could add into my meals, but how should I do that? Here are some easy suggestions for your everyday meals:

  • Mix up a breakfast smoothie made with low-fat milk and frozen fruit/vegetables. Try strawberries and banana, or a green smoothie with spinach and avocados. 
  • Add vegetables to your omelet and turn it into a hearty meal with broccoli, squash, carrots, peppers, tomatoes, or onions with low-fat sharp cheddar cheese.
  • Try crunchy vegetables instead of chips with your favorite low-fat salad dressing for dipping.
  • Make your main dish a salad of dark, leafy greens and other colorful vegetables. Add chickpeas or edamame (fresh soybeans). Top with low-fat dressing.
  • Get saucy with fruit. Puree apples, berries, peaches, or pears in a blender for a thick, sweet sauce on grilled or broiled seafood or poultry, or on pancakes, French toast, or waffles.
  • Dip whole wheat pita wedges in hummus, baked tortilla chips in salsa, strawberries or apple slices in low-fat yogurt, or graham crackers in applesauce.
  • Top a baked potato with beans and salsa or broccoli and low-fat cheese.
  • Add grated, shredded, or chopped vegetables such as zucchini, spinach, eggplant, and carrots to pasta dishes, casseroles, curries, soups, and stews.
  • Make a veggie wrap with roasted vegetables and low-fat cheese rolled in a whole-wheat tortilla
  • Grill colorful vegetable kabobs packed with tomatoes, green and red peppers, mushrooms, and onions.

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