A couple weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about some of my favorite recipes that I had been enjoying at the moment. I had so much fun writing it, and healthy eating is truly a passion of mine, so I am creating a part two to that first blog, updated with some of my new eating practices!
The Mediterranean Diet
I really want to try eating a fully plant-based diet. This new diet trend, really is not all that new. In fact, it has been around for centuries. Mediterranean countries have been eating this way since ancient times.
The Mediterranean diet is basically plant-based and focuses on incorporating lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, nuts, seeds, breads and olive oil. While limiting red meat, eggs, cheese and yogurt. As well as eliminating processed foods, sugars and pop.
To read more about the Mediterranean diet, this is an amazing article that explains what is is, the proven benefits and some delicious recipes: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/mediterranean-diet-meal-plan#the-basics
A plant-based diet is a diet consisting almost entirely of foods that come from plants, including vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, legumes and fruits, in conjunction with little or no animal products. This diet is scientifically proven to improve health, boost energy and protect against many chronic diseases.
For more information on scholarly research regarding the health benefits of eating foods derived from plants, check out: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3662288/.
My Plant-Based Habits
Growing up, my mom is a vegetarian, so she always provide healthy, plant-based meals to me, even as a child. Therefore, my appreciation of healthy food started from a young age.
Personally, I am not a vegan or vegetarian, but I only really eat meat in moderation. Whenever I grocery shop, I have a few staple food items that I always throw in the cart no matter what.
These foods include:
- Sweet potatoes
- Berries (Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries)
- Brown rice
- Bell peppers
- Frozen fruit (for smoothies)
- Almond or oat milk
- Baby tomatoes
- Triscuit whole wheat crackers
- Cheddar cheese cubes
- Dark chocolate
As you can see, the majority of these foods are plant-based. Since I am a college student, I do not have a huge budget to blow on food. However, I have found following a plant-based diet to be extremely cost effective and way cheaper than buying a lot of meat processed. I can get a full week of food for a very affordable price.
I usually do most of my grocery shopping at Aldi or Trader Joes. Occasionally, I will go to Whole Foods because it is only a two minute drive from my house, but that is only if I need something specific or if I am shopping in a hurry because Whole Foods is definitely on the more expensive side.
Plant-Based Recipe: Stuffed Zucchini Boats
With the weather getting colder, it is nice to have a warming, comforting food for meals. Whats even better, is if these meals are healthy and nutritious without compromising on flavor.
One new recipe that I recently tried (and loved) is for zucchini boats. This is basically just taking a whole zucchini, cutting it lengthwise and then, scooping out the inside and setting it aside. Drizzle the zucchini with olive oil and salt and pepper, bake until soft.
From here the possibilities are endless. You can stuff the zucchini with any ingredients you like. There is so much room for versatility. These zucchini boats can take on Chinese, Italian, Mexican and American flavor profiles.
Zucchini Boat Recipe
I looked at a lot of different recipes and ended up making my own with the ingredients I had in the fridge. I took an Italian approach and stuffed the zucchini with mostly Italian ingredients. They turned out absolutely delicious. Not to mention, they are very healthy, plant-based and a great way to eliminate carbs and still feel full after eating.
- 2 Large Zucchinis cut length-wise
- Salt, pepper and extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large tomato diced
- 1 cup of fresh mushrooms finely diced
- Fresh basil
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 cup fresh ricotta
- Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Start off by cutting the zucchini lengthwise, then scoop out the middle, and generously season with salt, pepper and olive oil. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 400 degrees.
While the zucchini is getting soft, start assembling the mixture. Combine diced tomato, mushrooms, ricotta, basil, oregano, sliced garlic and parmesan cheese.
Take zucchini out of the oven and divide mixture evenly amongst the four boats. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, basil and oregano. Place back in the oven for 20 minutes. Then broil for 2 or 3 minutes, so the cheese gets nice and brown and bubbly.
Be careful it might be hot! Enjoy :)