April 22nd is Earth Day and a great way to help our planet and health is by reducing our intake of meat. Certain meats like pepperoni, steaks, ground beef, and hot dogs are high in saturated fat which can increase the risk of heart disease. Including plant-based proteins, such as beans or lentils, in a meal is a great step to help you lead a healthy lifestyle. For example, beans and lentils contain protein as well as soluble fiber. Soluble fiber is helpful in lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol.

Small changes make a large impact. Even having one meatless day a week can help the planet. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states, “In the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that livestock contributes to more than one-third of methane emissions, one type of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Eating less meat by going meatless one day a week can contribute to efforts to reduce GHG.”

Another benefit to plant-based meals is it can save you money at the grocery store. One can of beans costs about one dollar whereas a pound of meat can cost anywhere from $4-10 a pound or even more depending on the cut of meat.

Use the plant-based shopping list below to help you add these power foods to your grocery list.

Plant-Based Proteins Shopping List

  • Beans & lentils
  • Nuts & seeds
  • Peanut butter, almond butter, sunflower butter, etc.
  • Unsweetened soy milk & tofu
  • Edamame
  • Quinoa
  • Plant-based pastas (chickpea pasta, lentil pasta, etc.)

How do I use plant-based proteins in meals?

Add beans and lentils to salads, quesadillas, soups, and taco meat. Make a smoothie with unsweetened soy milk, banana, peanut butter, and a small handful of spinach, which will be a great balance of protein, fiber, and healthy fat. Try this slow cooker minestrone soup  or red lentil and vegetable curry for a healthy and delicious meal.

Edamame is green soybean that has a mild sweet flavor. Edamame is low in sodium and does not contain any saturated fat. Half a cup of edamame contains 100 calories, 3g of total fat, 4g of fiber, and 8g of protein. Use edamame in soups, stir fries, and salads. Utilize dry-roasted edamame as a quick snack during the busy work week. Try this edamame and penne salad with feta recipe for a nutritious lunch or dinner.

Written by BWS Dietitian-Melissa Morningstar Vajas RD, LD

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