While I totally believe in "eating the rainbow" year round (no, I don't mean skittles, I mean a broad range of diverse plant foods) to feel balanced, sustained and healthy most of us are creatures of habit when it comes to daily meals. I love to experiment in the kitchen but if I am being honest, I have my "go-to" diet staples that help me feel nourished and fully satisfied day in and day out. I base my diet around these "bulk" foods and I keep things interesting by I changing up how I prepare them and what I eat them with. Doing this honestly and intuitively (i.e - changing it up when a food no longer appeals to you) is what makes eating whole-food-plant-based easy and effortless.
It is essential to find the foods you love and that make you feel your best in order to sustain a healthful lifestyle - it is my hope that sharing my go-to foods will help you identify your own and inspire how you can incorporate some of these whole plant foods into your diet.
I have a few requirements for my seasonal staples... they need to be:
- affordable (because...student loans)
- delicious (because...duh)
- easy to prep in different ways (because I love to be in the kitchen)
- nutritionally dense (because I like feeling good)
- filling (because I like feeling full)
Now, if you're really listening you might notice your appetite naturally changes with the seasons according to what is fresh and available in your corner of the world. For instance in winter I crave warm soups and nourishing starches, in spring I move towards salads and lighter cooked food, in summer I need to eat tons of raw, fresh fruit and water rich veggies. In autumn (my personal favorite) I begin to add in more fats and "harvest-time" fruit and veggies.
Here are the seven foods I eat everyday during autumn:
You will see greens as part of my daily diet year round. Greens are essential - they are full of micronutrients like iron and vitamin D and fiber and they are super filling. It is is easy to get your greens in - I eat them raw, steamed, blended up in smoothies and wilted into soups. I make sure to base my meal around greens at least once a day. My favorites in fall are kale, spinach, red lettuce and romaine.
PRO TIP: I always keep a pack or two of frozen spinach in the freezer - it is the best for blending into smoothies and adding into soups. Plus you get so much more bang for your buck!
"An apple a day...". Yes, I eat an apple every-damn-day. I usually opt for green apples as the pectin in their skin has the highest source of dietary fiber in the plant kingdom but around this time of year I love to try seasonal, sweeter varieties like pink lady, gala and galvenstein. I love to cut them up with banana, oats, raisins and chia seeds with almond milk to make a raw breakfast cereal. If I don't have one for breakfast, I'll always have one as a snack - usually spread with a bit of nut butter and sprinkled with cinnamon.
INTERESTING FACT: You can eat the WHOLE APPLE, core and all. Bite the apple from the bottom to the steam - it's all good stuff! People usually look at me and horror when I do this but I am telling you, there's literally nothing to it.
3. Chia Seeds
As far as healthy fiber-rich fats go, chia seeds are my favorite - it took some getting used to but I love the texture they give to everything I add them to. I usually have them sprinkled over my breakfast or blended into a smoothie but if I am feeling snack-y but not hungry, I will add them into a bit of water for a filling boost. You can also use them in baked goods as an egg replacement or get creative with a quick and easy chia seed pudding.
4. Nuts/nut butter
For a while I cut nut butters out of my diet as I believed they were too high in fat but let me tell you - they are also full of protein and great mirconutrients we need! Nuts and nut butters keep me full for hours and help to supress my cravings for less than healthy foods. I spread them on apples, mix them into breakfasts, use them in dressings and blend them into smoothies. My favorites are tahini (great for savory dishes), cashew butter (pricey, but worth it), brazil nuts and almonds.
5. Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes are my one true love. I can eat them for breakfast lunch and dinner as there are so many creative ways to use them. I love using them in curries, soups and stews but usually I just bake off 5 or 6 at a time in the oven until they are super soft and eat them straight out of the fridge throughout the week (don't judge me).
PRO TIP: Make sure to eat the skin because that stuff is full of probiotics sexy older sister, prebiotics, and easy to digest fiber.
I try to eat some kind of bean everyday - admittedly sometimes that is store-bought hummus but more often than not is black beans, kidney beans or whole chic peas. I love mixing these filling little jewels into salads, soups and all different types of bowls.
Okay, not a whole food, but I am just being honest...I have some form of chocolate everyday. I truly believe we should enjoy what we consume - I savor chocolate and it makes me happy so I make sure to enjoy it (responsibly) without restriction.