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New 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines: Plant Based Diets

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Every 5 years, the USDA releases the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These are evidence-based guidelines that explain what we should be eating to promote long term health and reduce risk of chronic disease. However, not many changes were made to the most recent DGA that were released back in December for 2020-2025. The biggest change was organizing nutritional guidelines by stage of life.

The DGA emphasizes nutrient dense foods and a reduction of red/processed meats and foods high in saturated fat, added sugars, and sodium. However, it does not explicitly say that we should shift to a mostly plant based diet. Given the current body of research on nutrition, disease, and longevity, it is clear that adopting a whole foods plant based diet is most beneficial to our health and the environment.

Plant based diets…

The DGA is the perfect starting point for making dietary changes that promote adequate nutrient intake and long term health. It gives specific recommendations on fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, protein, and oils. However, if you are looking to adopt a mostly plant based diet, you may need a little more information. 

To help you on your journey of plant based eating, we are going to break down the DGA’s recommendations for each food group and give you alternate plant based options that will help you reach your nutritional needs in a sustainable way.

Fruits and Vegetables

The DGA recommends 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables per day, which equates to about 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Vegetables are broken down even further (based on a 2,000 calorie diet):

  • Dark-Green Vegetables: 1 ½ cups per week
  • Red and Orange Vegetables: 5 ½ cups per week 
  • Beans, Peas, Lentils: 1 ½ cups per week
  • Starchy Vegetables: 5 cups per week
  • Other Vegetables: 4 cups per week

For plant based eating, not much has to change. By reducing intake of animal products, you will most likely eat more fruits and veggies than the recommended servings in the DGA. Many experts say we should actually be eating 5-9 servings per day for optimal benefits.

Grains

The DGA recommends more than 3 servings of whole grains per day. This includes whole wheat, quinoa, oats, brown rice, popcorn, and barley.  It also recommends that we eat less than 3 servings of refined grains per day because they are linked to heart disease and diabetes. This type of grain has been stripped of most of its nutrients, most importantly fiber, through processing. This includes white bread, white rice, cakes, and pastries. A whole foods plant based diet includes very few refined grains. 

Dairy

This is where the dietary guidelines start to get challenging for plant based eaters. Many people either eliminate or greatly reduce dairy when adopting a plant forward lifestyle. The DGA recommends 3 cups of dairy per day because of its high nutritional content and possible health benefits. However, a recent review of this evidence published in the New England Journal of Medicine says that the recommended 3 servings of dairy is not justified by research.

Some alternatives to dairy would be switching out a glass of milk for water or a dairy free alternative. When choosing dairy free milk, make sure it is fortified with:

  • Calcium
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • B12

The dietary guidelines recommend soy based products because they are closest to the nutrient composition of dairy.

Protein

The DGA recommends eating a variety of nutrient dense protein sources. However, it still relies heavily on animal based sources. Every week, it recommends eating:

  • 26 oz of meat, poultry, and eggs  
  • 8 oz for seafood
  • 5 oz of nuts, seeds, and soy products

Only a small portion of weekly protein would be coming from plant based sources with these recommendations. However, you are perfectly capable of reaching your recommended protein intake (.8g per kg of bodyweight) by eating entirely plant based. In addition to nuts, seeds, and soy products, beans, peas, lentils, and quinoa are excellent sources of plant based protein.

Oils

The DGA recommends consuming 27 grams of oils per day, which is about 2 tbsps. All oils, such as olive, canola, peanut, avocado, and sunflower, are naturally plant based and provide polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats which are essential to our health. If you are following the meditteranean diet, which is a predominantly plant based diet, you will most likely consume more than the recommended amount due to the high amounts of olive oil. However, research demonstrates that this type of diet can be very beneficial to your health, especially with reducing risk for cardiovascular disease.

You Do YOU

The dietary guidelines are very broad recommendations for the entire population, which means that diets will vary from person to person. It is also important to remember that nutrition is not the only factor impacting food choices. The DGA states that you must also take into account personal preferences, cultural traditions, and budgetary considerations. If you focus on all of these factors, in addition to emphasizing plant based foods, you will be able to adopt a healthy diet that is sustainable for both you and the environment.

If you want help developing a healthy, plant based diet that is right for you, email B.Komplete at admin@bkomplete.com for more information.

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Easy Plant-Based Dinner Recipes in Under 30 Minutes

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What’s for dinner?  If the thought of this question stresses you out – this blog post is for you!  Preparing a delicious and well-balanced dinner for yourself and your family doesn’t have to be hard, complicated or stressful.  And flipping traditional recipes into more nutritious and plant-based is one of the B.Komplete specialties.  Check out our top recipe hacks for easy plant-based dinner recipes that will take you less than 30 minutes to prepare.    

BBQ Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

This recipe makes 4 servings.

Ingredients:

Instructions:

For fast cooking of baked potatoes use the microwave (recommend wetting a paper towel and wrapping each potato in the damp towel).  Using a fork poke a few holes in the potato.  It will take about five minutes to cook one sweet potato in the microwave, and add two minutes in the microwave for each additional potato. 

To get the potatoes crispy you will cook quickly in the oven.  Preheat your oven to 425 F. After you have done most of the cooking in the microwave, cut the potatoes in half and put on a baking sheet.  Bake in the oven until the outside is crispy, 5 – 10 minutes.

While your potatoes are cooking, heat a saucepan on medium-low, stir together your protein choice and BBQ sauce. Heat until warm, 5-10 minutes.

Top each potato with scoopfuls of the protein and sauce mixture. Spoon over additional BBQ sauce and top with sliced avocado.  

Meatball Salad

This recipe makes 4 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Hearts of Romaine Lettuce, chopped
  • 1 cup of Grape or Cherry Tomatoes, halved
  • 1 Bell Pepper, sliced
  • ½ Cup Red Onion, diced
  • 1 Medium Cucumber, sliced
  • ½ Cup Fresh Parsley or 2 Tablespoons Dried Parsley 
  • 12 Gardein Meatballs
  • 1 Cup Biena Sea Salt Roasted Chickpeas
  • Your favorite Italian Salad or Greek Salad Dressing or top with a splash of oil oil and lemon

Instructions:

To cook the meatballs follow the package instruction.  In a large bowl mix together the lettuce, tomato, bell pepper, onion, cucumber, and parsley.  Next dress with the salad dressing or oil and lemon and mix well.  Then portion the salad onto 4 plates and top each plate with 3 cooked meatballs and ¼ cup of the chickpeas.

Fried No-Rice Rice

This recipe makes 4 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon of Canola Oil
  • 1 Cup White Onion, diced (this is approximately a medium onion)
  • 3 – 4 Tablespoons of Vegetable Broth (you can use water if you don’t have this)
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 1 Cup of Cascadian Farms Shelled Edamame
  • 1 Cup of Frozen Corn, Peas and Carrots
  • 2 Cups of Cascadian Farm Cauliflower Rice
  • 1 Tablespoon of Onion Powder
  • 5 – 6 Tablespoons of Tamari or Soy Sauce

Instructions:

Turn your burner to medium and using a medium – lage pan heat the oil until warm.  Add the frozen vegetables and cauliflower rice and allow to cook until soft.  Add the onion, edamame and garlic and continue to cook.  After the vegetables are lightly brown pour in the vegetable broth.  After the no-rice rice is finished cooking flavor with the onion powder and the Tamari or Soy Sauce.  Enjoy immediately or store in single serve containers for meal prep.

Spicy Chili

This recipe makes 6 servings.

So, technically this isn’t 30 minutes to make.  It will take you about 20 minutes to assemble.  And then you can use a slow cooker, which will take 6 – 8 hours.  

Ingredients:

  • 2, 15.5-oz cans no-salt-added red kidney beans and 2 15.5-oz cans no-salt-added pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cans no-salt-added black beans (rinsed, drained)
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 can no-salt-added, diced tomato (undrained)
  • 2 cans no-salt-added tomato sauce
  • 1 cup frozen whole kernel corn
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoon dried oregano (crumbled)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 4 medium garlic cloves (minced)

Instructions:  

The original recipe advised to combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix.  Seperate into 2 1-gallon resealable plastic freezer bags and lay flat to freeze.  Prior to cooking take the bags out of the freezer and thaw under refrigeration overnight.  However if you want to cook right away skip the freezer step and proceed right to the cooking.  To cook, place the chili in a slow cooker and cook covered, on low, for 6 – 8 hours until the beans are tender.  Enjoy over salad, brown rice or quinoa, and topped with a slice of avocado.  This recipe is also perfect for meal prep.  

Plant-Based Tuna Melts

Such a classic meal – updated for a plant based option.  This recipe makes 2 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Pouches of Good Catch Fish-less Tuna
  • 2 tablespoons chopped celery
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley or 1 teaspoon dried parsley 
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion or 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • ¼ cup Avocado Oil Mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon mustard 
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 slices Daiya Cheddar Cheese
  • 2 slices whole-grain bread (try Ezekiel

In a small mixing bowl break up the tuna with a fork. Toss with the celery, parsley and onion. Add the mayonnaise, mustard and season with pepper, to taste. Stir to combine. Place the tuna salad on the bread slices and top each with 1 slice of the cheese.  Heat in a toaster oven (medium high) or regular oven (use the broiler or heat to 375 F) for 3 – 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the bread is toasty.  Enjoy!

Let’ us know how your plant-based recipes come out!  Tag us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or YouTube with your creations!  

Nutrition and Food

How to Start a Vegetarian Diet – Are You Up for the Challenge?

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Type “becoming a vegetarian” into your favorite search engine and you are guaranteed to see a plethora of news articles, medical journals, lifestyle blogs, and social media sites filled with suggestions.  Let’s keep it simple – condensed results for you in an easy-to-follow article:

First, let’s review the benefits.  Switching to a vegetarian lifestyle can help improve personal health , sustain the environment, support animal welfare, and save money.  Whatever you believe, there is always a reason to consider trying a vegetarian diet.

If you’re reading this, then you may have thought about becoming a vegetarian at one time.  For whatever reason you couldn’t start then, we challenge you to take the venture now!  Vegetarianism is more accessible than ever, even for the busy professional. 

Here are four steps to make it happen:

Step 1 – Let’s be honest…

Before skydiving for the first time, would you calmly hop in your car and drive to the nearest airport?  Probably not; you may consider a few things like risk, personal health and cost, prior to jumping.  Similarly, if you want to become a vegetarian, consider the following:

  1. What foods do you enjoy and what don’t you like?
  2. Are you an adventurous eater or do you to stick with what you know?
  3. Do you eat in restaurants or at home?
  4. Do you cook or buy ready-to-eat meals?

Understanding your preferences will help make this work.  For example, don’t expect to become a vegan chef overnight if you don’t like cooking.  You may enjoy some ready-to-eat options instead while you ease yourself into cooking a few meals. 

Step 2 – What do you know?

There are different types of vegetarianism.  Here are the most popular:

  • “No food with a face” – Quoted from TV character Phoebe Buffay of Friends , this type of vegetarian avoids food with a face, or simply put animal meat. The technical name is lacto-ovo vegetarian, which includes eating animal byproducts like dairy and eggs, but not the animal flesh itself. 
  • One fish, two fish… – A pescatarian fuses the health benefits of fresh fish with nutrient rich plant-based foods. A pescatarian avoids all land animals like beef and poultry and may also exclude byproducts like eggs and dairy.
  • Animal hugger – Also known as vegan. This version completely omits animal product from the diet including byproducts like eggs, dairy, honey, and foods with Red40 coloring. 
  • What the heck is a flexitarian? – A newer term, the flexitarian  consumes meat less frequently and in smaller amounts. For example, a flexitarian  may eat plant-based foods only, but will eat meat on special occasions like holidays.

Which one sounds good?  Choose the best fit for you and set it as your goal.

Step 3 – Let’s eat!

Enough thinking, let’s start eating! 

Tip 1 – Make your favorite already-vegetarian dishes:

Do you like…

If you do, good news!  These are already meat-free dishes!  

Tip 2 – Embrace “gateway” meat products:

While some people turn their noses up at the processed nature of faux meats, this option can be an efficient way to add protein and make a meaty dish vegetarian without losing the flavor and texture of the dish.  These products can be found in most grocery store chains, in the natural food and frozen food isles:

Tip 3 – Substitutions for Vegan-friendly dishes

Avoid dairy and eggs by using plant-based ingredients instead.  Items like applesauce, bananas, nut milks, flax seed, and coconut can be substituted while cooking and baking.  In addition to great taste, your foods may be healthier!  Check out conversion charts available online.

Step 4 - Nice to meet you!

To be a successful vegetarian, introduce yourself to new meals and ingredients.  Plant-based dishes can be delicious, easy to find, and healthy.

 

Take the Challenge

Starting a vegetarian diet can be easy to do, and can be a gradual process.  It’s helpful to have a support system in friends and family. 

To help you get started, we challenge you to take the 3-day B.Komplete Vegetarian Challenge!  All you need to do is try three breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners that fall within the type of vegetarian you want to become.  Use the recipe sources in this post or stick to your already vegetarian favorites.  Then, let us know how you did by leaving a comment below! 

Not willing to commit yet?  Try out Meatless Monday.  A now global movement, this  organization encourages people to “once a week, cut the meat.”  Their website has a vault of resources to help you commit to reducing overall consumption of meat.

 

Nutrition and Food

Organic versus Conventional – Which Should You Choose? Part Two

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Lets continue the conversation on some of the main factors that consumers like you consider when making purchases at the food store. If you didn’t read Part 1 of the series addressing the safety and cost of organic and conventional foods, you can view it here.

Nutrition

Working to improve your health through the food that you eat? Then you want to eat the MOST nutritious versions available, right? It’s more bang for your buck!  The food & nutrition industry has been testing both organic and conventional foods for many years. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a definitive answer of which type is nutritiously superior.  In the early 2000’s, you could find articles that were claiming a significant nutritional disparity between select organic and conventional foods. Only a few years later, there had been new research saying the exact opposite. In 2009, the American Society of Nutrition posted an article  concluding there is no significant difference between organic and conventional foods. Again in 2012, a hotly debated report from Stanford University stated that there is a lack of strong evidence that organic foods are more nutritious than conventional foods.

 Today’s research deviates from those studies, showing that there IS a nutritional difference in some organic foods. Reports are showing up to 40% higher in antioxidant activity  in organic fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants are comprised of nutrients like Vitamin C, carotenoids, flavonoids and minerals like selenium and the health benefits of antioxidants are evident.

 What does this mean? It’s apparent that there is more research needed.

 If good health is important to you, then we suggest continuing to choose your favorites until further solid evidence is discovered. Want better nutrition now? Remember VARIETY! Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low fat meats and dairy will give you a wide spectrum of your daily needed nutrients.

Environmental Impact

Soil erosion, decline in crop production, fertilizer runoff, and pesticide resistance are concerns that some take into account when deciding between organic or conventional foods. The USDA has many resources on how farmers can protect and enhance the environment but there are still problems that worry shoppers.

Scary reports of lake and river “dead zones” occasionally surface after finding considerable deterioration of wildlife and vegetation. This fuels new environmental studies to identify the true offender and will often include testing of new farming techniques and products that can help protect instead of harm.

Consider this: all types of farming impacts the surrounding environment. Organic farms can use natural fertilizers and pesticides that can cause runoff problems. However, the USDA says that organic farming differs from conventional farming because they strive to preserve natural resources and biodiversity with their farming techniques. There also are organizations like the Rodale Institute in Pennsylvania that dedicate themselves to researching and testing better ways for American farmers to grow organic foods without harming the environment.

If preserving the environment is important to you, then you may want to consider choosing organic foods. Environment-friendly tip: buy local! As we mentioned in Part 1, think about supporting smaller farms that are local to your home or workplace. This reduces the need to truck food products all over the country, which can produce a considerable amount of fossil fuel emissions.

 Don’t know where to find a local farmer market? Visit here and input your zip code or download an app for your mobile device (we tried Farmstand).

So, What Should You Choose?

The bottom line is that, as a consumer, you have to decide what’s important to you. Whether you’re concerned with safety, cost, nutrition, environmental impact or something else that wasn’t mentioned, you should always choose what’s best for you and your family. Watch for new research on the areas that are important to you. And in the meantime, purchase and eat healthy food that you love!

Photo Credit:

http://abcn.ca/category/diet-exercise/

http://farmersmarketannex.com/fmablog/?p=271