The Plant Rx

Your resource for a plant-based diet

Archive for the ‘Substitutions’ Category

Can a plant-based diet be unhealthy?

Posted by Jenn on February 10, 2011

Telling you that almost everything you do in life can be performed in either a good way or a bad way or can be done well or not well probably isn’t earth shattering news to you. .  Of course there are many variations in between but you get the idea.  The same is true with diets. Like any diet out there, plant-based diets can be complete, healthy and balanced or incomplete, unhealthy and unbalanced. Thus, merely consuming a diet free of meat and dairy products does not necessarily guarantee good health.  Now, before you stop reading in disgust, hear me out.

Don’t get the wrong idea , choosing not to eat animals or animal products is a great thing and does in and of itself confer health benefits.  That being said, not all products free of meat and dairy are created equal.  Let’s use soy & soy products to illustrate.  As a whole food soy beans are an excellent, high quality, complete source of plant-based protein and fiber. So are unprocessed soy products such as soymilk and tamari.  Furthermore, they are low in saturated fat, sugar and sodium.  A true super food!   Then there are processed soy foods.  Processed soy foods have become very common and are very appealing especially to the new vegan looking to shift the protein sources in their diet.  While they still may retain some of the beneficial properties of unprocessed whole soy they also have a much less desirable side.  They tend to be high in sodium, fat, sugar, and often have artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. Although exceptions do exist, calling these foods “healthy” would be more than a slight exaggeration.

Another example would be eating refined (“white”) grains rather than their whole grain counterparts such as white rice, bread and pasta.  While, it is true that these are not animal-based products, which is good, compared to their whole wheat and brown counterparts they have less fiber, less protein and a higher glycemic index.

The whole grains haven’t had their bran and germ removed by milling, making them good sources of fiber — the part of plant-based foods that your body doesn’t digest. Among many health benefits, high-fiber foods also tend to make you feel full longer.

Refined grains, such as white rice or white flour, have both the bran and germ removed from the grain. Although vitamins and minerals are added back into refined grains after the milling process, they still don’t have as many nutrients as whole grains do, and they don’t provide as much fiber naturally. Read the rest of this entry »

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Plant-Based Diet Substitutions for Meat, Eggs, and Dairy: Find out how you can still eat your favorite foods

Posted by Jenn on December 20, 2010

(Source:; by J. Ellen Fedder, Oct 11, 2009)

You don’t have to give up your favorite meals when switching to a plant-based diet. You simply need to make some substitutions, and the newer dish will likely be more nutritious, higher in fiber, and void of cholesterol. To learn substitution choices for meat, eggs, and dairy, read on.

Substitute Rice, Almond, Soy, Nut, or Grain Milk for Dairy 

You can substitute a cup of cow’s milk with a cup of rice milk, almond milk, soy milk, nut milk, or grain milk. Some popular name brands include: Rice Dream, Almond Breeze, and Silk. Most large grocery store chains handle a wide variety of non-dairy milks. Look for varieties that are fortified and unsweetened. For a more complete list of non-dairy milks, see sources below.

Substitute Rice, Almond, or Soy Cheeses and Yogurts for Dairy

Also found in most large grocery stores are soy cheeses, soy-based sour creams, and soy yogurt. In addition, your local health food stores usually carry a variety of non-dairy cheeses and yogurts–many made by the same companies that make non-dairy milks.

What about cottage cheese? Is there a substitution that comes close? Yes, you can use mashed tofu in place of cottage cheese in some recipes.

What about a substitute for butter? Is there a substitution for this condiment? Yes, you can find butter-like spreads that use extra virgin olive oil or cold-pressed canola oil in place of real butter.

What about whipped topping? Is there a creamy substitution for this food? Yes, you can purchase or make your own whipped topping of tofu, liquid sweetener, lemon juice and vanilla.

Substitute Flaxseed, Banana, Baking Powder, Tofu, or Ener-G for Eggs

There are several ways to substitute eggs in baked goods. You can mix a tablespoon of ground flaxseed with 3 tablespoons of water for an egg-like consistency or use a small mashed ripe banana. You can use a small amount of baking powder for a little leavening action, or a couple tablespoons of soft tofu works well. Finally, you can use Ener-G, a tapioca/potato-starch product that substitutes for eggs in baking. Read the rest of this entry »

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