How to eat a plant-based diet in one easy step

I am a plant-based lifestyle junkie. I admit it. Yep, I’m just freaky about being in the kitchen and playing around with gadgets, and food. I am NOT a vegan. Or a vegetarian. Nor do I eat paleo, low carb, low fat, or any other sort of obsession-driven diet. Frankly, I detest the thought of diets and am regularly rageful over the manipulative marketing mania that sucks people down a dark hole and convinces them to buy expensive “shake” mixes, magical weight-loss elixirs, and join gyms. Really, it MAKES ME CRAZY.

I believe in eating plants. Plants of all sorts. A huge and wide variety of plants. I’ve been doing it a long time, haven’t eaten a bite of meat in forever, and still am very healthy. I’m at a healthy weight, have lots of energy (as long as you catch me before 8 p.m. – after that I’m toast), and I’m aging gracefully, embracing “most” of the joys of being over-50, except, that is, for those damned grey hairs. I’m just not ready for that.

The secret here, the one step, is to  simply add more vegetables. Did you know that 69% of American’s are not eating enough greens in their diets and that 96% of American’s don’t eat the minimum recommended daily servings of legumes? In fact, I’m willing to bet that a bunch don’t even know what a legume is. Don’t feel bad if you fall into this category. In 2017, the Huffington Post ran an article entitled “We Know They’re Healthy, But WTF Is A Legume, Really?”  addressing this very question. In short, here is a list of a few legumes: split peas, cannelloni beans, kidney beans, navy beans, soybeans, chickpeas, red, green or brown lentils, alfalfa, peas, and peanuts.

Don’t worry about what you need to get rid of, unless, of course, you’re eating trans-fats, processed meat (like lunch/deli meats) and soda – those you definitely need to get rid of. Just add in more vegetables. Add more greens to every darned meal you eat. Not iceberg lettuce – think romaine or kale instead. Add berries – you know, blueberries, strawberries, concord grapes, cranberries, and raspberries. And add more beans – black, black-eyed, cannelloni, chickpeas, northern, kidney, pinto, red, split, mung, beans beans beans.  You get the picture, eh?

And then, get wild! I mean “wild”. Go outside and scan your yard (as long as you’re not using chemicals on or around it) and start eating what grows naturally in your ecosystem. In my 11-week course, Healthy Habits, we have been talking about plant-based lifestyle and I encouraged everyone to diversify the plant species they typically eat. So as not to be a hypocrite and teach what I am not willing to do myself, after class I headed straight to Meijer (I would have gone to my backyard, but it’s too early – 29 degrees last night) and bought a bunch of dandelion greens.  “DANDELIONS,” you ask? Yes, they are edible.  Quite! This summer, I’ll eat the entire thing – flowers, leaves, and all. I’ll make tea from the roots. And for those who are wondering about the stems, well, I won’t eat the stem, but once you pluck off the flower and root, you can use the stem to make a musical horn. You can impress your friends with your newfound appreciation for eating your weeds AND entertain them at the same time.

So back to my dandelion meal. I made Dandelion Pesto and here is the recipe along with my comments on what I’ll do differently next time:

2-3 cups fresh dandelion greens (I purchased the greens at Meijer for now. These greens were pretty bitter, so I added 2 tsps of honey. I won’t do this again. Next time I’ll blanch the greens instead – that helps to calm the bitter)

1 cup raw cashews

3 tbsp lemon juice

3 cloves garlic (wow – I used 3 large cloves. Next time I’ll do 2 small cloves)

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (recipe called for sunflower oil, but I did not have in my kitchen – I’ll bet sunflower is better)

1 cup mixed arugula and mint (mint confused my taste buds in this recipe. Next time I’ll find another green- probably kale because it is much milder, and I like the texture)

1 cup water

1 tsp salt (I added salt at the meal, so next time I’ll add another teaspoon to the recipe)

Mix all ingredients in blender until creamy. Super duper healthy. Meal is full of protein, high in calcium and potassium, which is good for muscle and menstrual cramps. Interesting, eh??? (recipe and nutritional information from The Wild Wisdom of Weeds by Katrina Blair).

So I am a plant-based lifestyle junkie. And now, I’m a wild plant-based lifestyle junkie. I have not experimented anywhere near as much as I should, and I’m now on a mission. I already eat lambsquarter which grows everywhere, mint which is prolific in my yard, wild raspberries and a few other local delicacies like morel mushrooms. I encourage you to join me in getting wild. Not quite ready for a meal of dandelion? That’s cool. How about zucchini? Or cauliflower? Arugula? Cilantro? Beets? Pumpkin? Sweet peas? Just pick one or two. Add more vegetables. When you do this, you crowd out the less-than-healthy foods without even noticing. You’ll feel better. You’ll be lighter. You’ll poop much better. And soon, you’ll become a plant-junkie too. Welcome!

For more information about plant-based lifestyle, join in any of the courses offered at For the Health of It or attend one of my free monthly workshops at RedBloom Yoga. I want to provide good information on healthy lifestyle available to everyone, so join us. Sign up for my newsletter and join our Facebook Group community. It will be worth the milli-second it takes to do this. For the Health of It…..

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