As the owner of a popular green smoothie website with hundreds of recipes, and the fact that I post a new recipe every day on my Facebook page, I get asked by a lot of people if I only drink green smoothies. I probably look like I am on a strict green smoothie diet. But I am not. The recipe to the right is my raw, vegan taco salad recipe.
I Do Not Just Drink Green Smoothies
While I love my green smoothies and drink large ones every single day, I love to eat too! Green smoothies provide better health and weight loss results when they are combined with a healthy, whole foods diet. When I am not drinking a smoothie, I eat both raw and cooked whole foods.
I usually have two smoothies a day, but I round out my diet with a whole foods snack and a whole foods dinner. If you follow me of Facebook, you might have seen some of my dinners and/or snacks, but in case you haven’t, I’ll share some of my dietary staples in this article.
But first, the way I eat can be summed up this way…
Low-Fat, Plant-Based, Whole Foods Diet
I emphasize whole foods, preferring foods as close as possible to their natural state. This means that I choose brown rice over white rice, or rice cakes (which are even more processed). The best whole foods on the planet are fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds.
I prefer a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet. About 99.5% of my carbohydrates come from fresh fruits and other whole food sources (quinoa, brown rice, oats). I keep my fat intake between 10-15% of total calories, which I find works very well for me.
I do not restrict whole-food carbohydrates, natural sugars (in fruits), and I ensure that I consume sufficient calories to fuel my daily activities as well as my workouts and fitness regimen. I am not a proponent of calorie-restriction diets.
When I say “plant-based”, I am not necessarily describing a vegan diet. I believe that it is important to base your diet around plant-sourced foods. I believe that it is healthier to eat less meat and focus more on plant-sources of protein.
While I was a vegan for over three years, I started incorporating small amounts of animal-sourced foods during my pregnancy. Even after I gave birth, I have continued to eat pasture-raised eggs (my sister has backyard chickens), and wild caught fish on rare occasions. I still avoid dairy.
I guess you could say that I am 98% vegan, going a week or two at a time without any animal-sourced foods, and that feels “just right” for my body right now.
Unhealthy Foods That I Avoid
There are some goods that I avoid. They include:
Boxed/Canned Foods: Boxed and canned foods can be fast and easy to grab when you are on the go, but they aren’t always the best foods for you. Canned foods are generally high in sodium, which can work against your weight loss. Plus, canned and boxed foods usually contain added sugars, preservatives and much fewer nutrients that fresh whole foods.
Frozen Meals: A lot of frozen or pre-made meals are high in sodium. Frozen foods are not as nutritious as freshly made. (I do freeze some fruits, berries and leafy greens, such as kale.)
Processed/Refined Foods: I avoid, for the most part, processed, manufactured and highly refined foods. This means that my diet doesn’t include pasta, bread, sweeteners, baked goods, or other manufactured, pre-packaged foods. Of course, I indulge in the occasional veggie burger (with bun), or an Asian-inspired Soba noodle dish. I’ll buy whole wheat wraps. But 95% of the time, I’m strictly a whole foods girl!
If you have a smartphone, I recommend downloading an app called Fooducate. This is a great app that grades food based on the total nutrients. When I do purchase processed foods, I try to only buy food that the app grades as a B- or better. You can also use this app to help educate your kids about food. Let them scan the food items in the store. You’ll be surprised at what “healthy” foods score a D- and you’ll quickly learn which ones rate an A.
Non-Smoothie Dietary Staples – Foods I Like To Eat
Quinoa: Quinoa is a great source of protein. Just one-and-1/2 cups of cooked quinoa has 12.2 grams of protein. It’s really fast and easy to cook, especially if you use a rice cooker. It has a mild flavor so you can add just about anything to it. Stir in some barbecue sauce with some diced scallions and herbs for a delicious, savory and filling dinner.
You can also make a cold red quinoa salad with lots of raw veggies like red onion, yellow and orange peppers, tomato, snow peas and a little cayenne pepper and some olive oil (just a little!!!). Make it the night before so all the flavors mingle.
Beans: I love black beans, but you can use any bean you like. I really like making black bean soup or black bean chili in my crock pot. I make large batches of both and eat them for a couple of days. If I make a lot, I’ll freeze some for later. I prefer to use dried black beans that you buy in bulk. Canned black beans might be quicker and easier, but they also contain much more sodium and potentially leach Bisphenol-A (BPA) from the can linings.
Brown/Wild Rice: Rice isn’t going to have as much protein in it as quinoa, but it’s still a great source with 1-and-1/2 cups of my brown and wild rice blend containing 8.3 grams. You might be tempted to get premade rice, but this is going to have a lot of sodium in it.
I bought a rice cooker and it makes cooking rice a lot easier. Just add water and rice, turn it on and walk away. I highly recommend investing in a rice cooker, especially one that has a steaming basket insert so you can steam veggies while you cook quinoa or rice. Some rice cookers have a timer and others you will have to check, but you certainly don’t have to stand over it and watch it the entire time like you do if cooking it on a stove top. I like to add 1/4 avocado to 1 cup rice with diced red onion, tomato, sea salt, dulse flakes and a little lime juice.
Dried Fruit: Okay, so I don’t eat a lot of dried fruit, but I like to keep it on hand. Sometimes I want a quick snack and I’m feeling lazy or I am on the go. I like to keep some dried goji berries and dried papaya on hand for a quick snack. I try not to eat it often, but sometimes I just want to open a bag and eat something that I didn’t have to prepare first.
If you are going to keep dried fruit on hand, make sure you read the label first! If the dried fruit looks pretty, it’s most likely loaded with food coloring and preservatives. Check the label for other chemicals used to keep the fruit fresh. The ingredient should read “fruit”, and nothing else. When in doubt don’t get it. Pineapple and bananas are usually loaded with additional sugar so I try to avoid those. Stick with organic, no sugar added if you can find it.
You also want to make sure you brush your teeth or at least rinse your mouth after eating dried fruit so that the sugars don’t stick to your teeth.
Steamed Vegetables I have a rice cooker with a steaming basket insert so I while the rice or quinoa is cooking, I chop up some veggies and add them to the steaming basket. Everything finishes at the same time and I am only using one pot. Then I season with a little sea salt and a dressing I made or some orange juice and cayenne pepper and I’m done.
Steamed vegetables are a great way to increase your vegetable intake. They are an excellent source of minerals.
Almond/Peanut Butter: This is one of my favorite things to have as a snack. I limit my fat intake so if I have a fat like avocado for dinner, I’ll skip the almond or peanut butter that day. I like to mash one banana with a teaspoon of cinnamon or raw cacao with two tablespoons of almond or peanut butter. It’s delicious! I have this several times a week. It’s fast and filling. I also add almond butter to celery and top it with a few goji berries for what I like to call “fire ants on a log”. I always choose plain, unsalted organic nut butters.
Nuts/Seeds: While I regularly add flax and chia seeds to my green smoothies, I also keep almonds and other tree nuts on hand for snacks, and to make homemade nut milks.
If you would like to know more about exactly how I eat (complete with a full 28-day meal plan), as well as how I lost 40 pounds and lowered my cholesterol by almost 50 points, then join my Green Smoothie Weight Loss Program.
Tracy Russell is the creator of RESET 28: A 28-Day Program For Energy, Weight Loss & A Healthy Glow, and founder of Incredible Smoothies. She has been helping people take control of their health and well being with green smoothies, a whole foods diet, and fitness since 2009.