The Plant Rx

Your resource for a plant-based diet

Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category

The Pleasure Trap: You know what you should do, so why is it so hard to do it? – YumUniverse™ | YumUniverse™

Posted by Jenn on August 24, 2011

The Pleasure Trap: You know what you should do, so why is it so hard to do it? – YumUniverse™ | YumUniverse™.

GREAT article by Heather Crosby at YumUniverse.  Very powerful.  A must read in my opinion!

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Plant-based Health Study: Vanessa’s Rockin’ Results!

Posted by Jenn on April 13, 2011

The Plant-based health study concluded on March 15th.  Since then we have been testing our participants and gathering the final results and we are just about ready to present them all to you.  In the meantime, we will have some special posts on the individual participant’s results and their thoughts on participating in the study now that it is over.


Today I am very excited to present to you  Vanessa’s study results!


Vanessa's Plant-based Health Study Results

Vanessa entered our study as a 30 year old Dental student (who btw, is now a licensed Dentist! Congrats, Vanessa!) who consumed a Standard American Diet (SAD).  She was thin with a very good BMI.  Her pre-study lab work showed that she had hyperlipidemia with a total blood cholesterol of 255 (anything over 200 is considered “high”) and an LDL cholesterol of 130 (anything above 130 is considered “high”).  Her HDL values were phenomenal, among the best I’ve ever seen, and her triglycerides were also very good as was her A1C value.

After 30 days on a plant-based diet, Vanessa’s total cholesterol dropped from 255 to 206.  A 49 point drop! Her LDL cholesterol dropped from 130 to 86.  A 44 point drop!  These reductions almost brought her into acceptable blood cholesterol ranges.  Her LDL was now considered well within normal ranges and her Total Cholesterol was now only 6 points above what is considered to be the “normal” range.  All other values remained fairly constant including her weight and BMI.

After another 30 days (at the 60 day conclusion of our study), the results were even MORE impressive! Vanessa’s Total Cholesterol dropped another 28 points to 178! Further, her LDL cholesterol dropped an additional 28 points to 58! Talk about impressive!  In 60 days, Vanessa’s Total Cholesterol went from 255 to 178, a 77 point decrease! Her LDL Cholesterol went from 130 to 58, a 72 point decrease!  Thus, not only does Vanessa NO LONGER HAVE HYPERLIPIDEMIA, but she cut her LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) more than in half!

As if that weren’t enough, her LDL values are now below what even Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn would consider safe and cardio-protective from the likes of heart disease and its co-morbidities!  Great job, Vanessa!

To read about Vanessa’s journey visit Vanessa’s Page under the Plant-based Health Study tab. Her final labs will also be posted on the main Plant-based Health Study page by weeks end in the interest of transparency.  Additionally, her final post and thoughts on her experience after getting her final results have been pasted below for you to read.

Please join me in thanking Vanessa for participating in our study as well as congratulating her on her amazing results!

Vanessa’s Final Post

(March 29, 2010)

The plant-based diet study has been over now for a few weeks.  I wish I could say that I have been keeping a strict plant-based diet since then, but that is not the case.  However, I am still keeping a diet which is predominantly plant-based.   I would say that over the course of two days, I might have one meal that includes some form of dairy.  Meat is a different story – I’ve never been a big meat-eater, so I don’t have as strong of a desire to include it back into my diet.

However, today may have been a game changer!

I just received the results from my final blood work and I am SHOCKED at the results.  I was pretty happy at the midpoint blood work when my LDL went down so significantly.  However, I had blood work done back in September that produced similar results.  I was happy that my cholesterol improved, but I honestly thought that things would probably plateau around these levels. Totally wrong! My LDL levels continued to plummet during the last 30 days.   My LDL levels went from 130 at the beginning of the study to 58! So now I feel like I need to rethink things…  I had originally decided that I didn’t want to completely eliminate all traces of dairy from my diet – a minimal amount would certainly make keeping this lifestyle a little easier without having a large impact on my physical health.  I think I still believe this, but I will definitely give pause before I opt to eat foods outside of a plant-based diet. Read the rest of this entry »

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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 With Whole Foods: 5 Strategies

Posted by Jenn on December 21, 2010

Grocery Store Green Bell Peppers

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Journalist and UC Berkeley professor Michal Pollan has made a name for himself in recent years with books and articles about food, such as his award-winning “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” In trying to make sense of how complicated and artificial our foods have become, he famously advised, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” With a few simple strategies, you can turn his miniature manifesto into your personal nutrition plan by eating a plant-based diet with whole foods.

    Fruits and Vegetables

  1. Eating fruits and vegetables is one of the simplest parts of your plant-based food strategy. Whether you go for organic or conventional produce, eat an array of colors so that you get a variety of nutrients: yellow squash, purple eggplants, red apples, green kale and so on. To keep your menus interesting, vary your cooking methods. You can eat your fruits and vegetables raw, of course. But to mix things up, try grilling fruit slices by brushing them with canola oil, placing them in a grill pan on low heat for five minutes and sprinkling them with cinnamon. Turn your vegetables into a main dish by grilling them as kebabs: Brush veggies such as cherry tomatoes, zucchini slices and red onions with Italian dressing, place them on skewers and grill over medium heat for five to 10 minutes.
  2. Whole Grains

  3. Whole grains are grains that haven’t been refined through a manufacturing process–they’re better sources of fiber, potassium and other nutrients than refined grains because the bran and germ remain intact. You can find whole-grain versions of all kinds of foods, including bread, rice and pasta. Look at the package carefully to identify a whole grain. Don’t just look for the word “whole” on the label; also read the ingredients to be sure that whole grains appear among the first items on the list. Look for whole grains such as brown rice, oatmeal, whole wheat, buckwheat, millet and wild rice and avoid the word “refined.”
  4. Nutrition Needs

  5. If you’ve decided to go vegetarian, it’s important to understand the nutritional effect of various foods you’ve removed from your diet. A vegan eating plan, for example, eliminates foods with vitamin B-12, and some vegetarian diets are low in calcium, iron and zinc. You can get the right nutrients, though, if you eat a variety of foods. You can get protein from soy products, legumes and nuts. You can get calcium and iron from dark, leafy green vegetables such as spinach. You can get vitamin B-12 from fortified soy products or by taking a supplement. You can get zinc from whole grains and nuts.
  6. Navigate the Grocery Store

  7. One of the keys to eating a plant based diet with whole foods is stocking your pantry and refrigerator each week so that you have what you need to make healthy meals. If you know throughout the week that your ingredients are waiting for you at home, you’ll be less likely to pick up food from a restaurant on your way home from work. To do this, develop the habit of navigating the grocery store wisely. This usually means avoiding the middle of store, where pre-packaged, artificial foods often line the shelves. Stick mostly to the perimeters, where you’ll find fresh produce. Walk down the aisles with a purpose–many whole grain foods are situated in the section with rice and other baking items, but avoid the refined foods you find there.
  8. Plan Ahead for Snacks

  9. One of the most challenging aspects of eating a plant based, whole-foods diet is that it’s simply much easier not to be healthy. So many convenience foods are available that can seem tempting when you’re hungry, and fast food restaurants seem to line every street. So it’s crucial that you plan ahead if you want to make healthy choices consistently. Always take an apple with you, or a small plastic zipper bag of cashews or almonds. Alternately, keep healthy bars with you, such as Lara Bars–these are made exclusively with nuts, spices and dried fruits. Having these on hand for when you’re suddenly starving will help you ward off convenient but unhealthy temptations.

(Source:; By S.B. Plunkett)

Read more: Plant Based Diet With Whole Foods |

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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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6 Plant-Based Diet Tricks for Carnivores

Posted by Jenn on December 17, 2010


by Myscha Theriault on 2 November 2010


Numerous well-known health professionals recommend a plant-based diet for optimum health. I get that I’m supposed to eat my veggies, but just how does one transition to a plant-based diet when it seems like every recipe in your repertoire includes some form of animal product? And did I mention I’m a meat lover from way back? Systemic change doesn’t happen overnight. While I can’t say we’re completely free of animal products in our house, we do now have a more plant-based diet than I ever would have thought possible, without feeling deprived.

Search out secret weapons

When we first started approaching a plant-based diet with gusto, I knew flavor would play a dominant role in our menu transitions. Wheat grass smoothies weren’t going to cut it at this house, and if I was planning on cutting out the ranch dressing as our favorite frugal veggie dip of choice, I’d darn well better have something phenomenal to replace it with, thank you very much. Here are the top tensecret weapon foods for going vegan I keep in stock at our house. I use the phrase “going vegan” lightly, as I know there are those folks out there who are much more hardcore about their animal product elimination than we are. That being said, once you’ve eliminated animal flesh and dairy items from a recipe, it is, in essence, vegan. So I use the term to describe the type of menus and foods we are trying to eat the most of.

Come up with hearty alternatives

One of the main concerns I think anyone has when trying out a plant-based diet is whether or not your new food choices will leave you feeling satisfied. Watercress sandwiches weren’t high on my list of lunches to try. Neither were broccoli sprout wraps. But we do love our sandwiches at this house, and we do prefer them hot. So on that note, here are ten oven-toasted vegan sandwiches for die-hard carnivores. While not completely plant-based in nature, you’ll also find several tips in this sandwich ideasarticle and Linsey Knerl’s meatless dishes post.

Creatively reduce your meat consumption

If simply making plant foods the main focus of your meal is your goal, then reducing meat rather than eliminating it may be the most comfortable way for your family to start. Carrie Kirby has previously given us some tips on using meat as a flavor ingredientrather than a mainstay. These strategies for saving money on meat should also be helpful.

Include protein alternatives in your plant-based diet

While I’m aware that most of us don’t require nearly as much protein as we think we do, I’m here to testify that my body still requires more than the average bear. It always has. So keeping protein consumption a consideration was important to me as I led our household into a plant-based diet program. There are numerous ways to go with this, not the least of which is finding ways to enjoy tofu as a meat lover. At some point I’ll put together an entire article on the subject. For now though, I’ll just put a few ideas and resource links out there for your consideration.

If you’re a fan of using nuts, seeds, and nut butters as your protein replacement of choice, you’ll want to check out this resource on frugal meal ideas using peanut butter. Those wishing their meatless meals to appear as close to their regular menu choices as possible might choose TVP as a meat replacement, as it works seamlessly for things like tacos, spaghetti sauces, and sloppy Joes. If beans and legumes are your thing, then check out these lentil recipes or try an easy Lebanese black eyed pea salad. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tips for Eating a Plant Based Diet:

Posted by Jenn on December 17, 2010

Various fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains; ...

Image via Wikipedia


In our Overview on Nutrition and Cancer Prevention, you may have read about the importance of eating an abundance of vegetables and fruit. Use the following tips and tricks to squeeze more of these healthy foods into your diet everyday!

Tips for Eating More Plant Foods

  • Rely on frozen vegetables & fruit for convenience. They are as nutritious as fresh!
  • Add a handful of frozen blueberries, strawberries, or blackberries to your cereal.
  • Eat a high-fiber, whole grain cereal for breakfast. Chose a cereal with at least 6 grams of fiber per serving.
  • Try a hot cereal for breakfast for variety. Try oatmeal with some frozen berries stirred in.
  • Stuff your favorite omelet with low-fat shredded cheese, tomatoes, and frozen spinach (cook & drain spinach first).
  • Chose whole grain, high fiber breads. Chose bread with at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. Read labels: If you see the word “enriched” in the ingredient list, it’s not whole grain. Instead look for words such as “whole grain” , “stone ground”, “whole ground”, “whole wheat flour”, “whole oat flour”, and “whole rye flour”.
  • Have a glass (6 ounce serving size) of 100% fruit juice each day. This counts as one serving of fruit.
  • Keep little 6 ounce cans of low-sodium vegetable juice handy for a quick serving of vegetables.
  • Snack on baby carrots and humus, which gives you both vegetables and legumes (beans)!
  • Eat low-sodium bean or lentil soup for lunch. It’s quick, convenient, and it counts as a serving of beans and/or vegetables.
  • Regularly use canned beans. Rinse beans well (until water runs clear) and sprinkle them on salad to add protein and fiber to your meal.
  • Use whole grain pasta instead of plain, white pasta.
  • Make a homemade pizza crust with whole grain flour. Even wheat germ can be added in for a great texture and hearty taste. Read the rest of this entry »

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