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How to Start a Plant Based Diet


Photo by Tammi Ameli @gmofreegirl

By now, everyone has heard of a plant based diet, but do you really know what the results of eating a plants are?

In recent years, numerous studies have proven that a plant-based diet can reverse diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and certain cancers that processed foods, GMOs (genetically modified foods) and animal products promote. This means that by eating a diet rich in foods that are made from whole plants – fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds, you can actually reverse many of your health problems! Plants are natures true medicine! In my personal life this also means eating organic and non-GMO foods. If you want to gain optimal health in the years to come, a plant-based foods lifestyle will provide your body with more antioxidants, nutrients, vitamins, minerals and fiber, and organic is the best choice. The Environmental Working Groups “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean Fifteen” lists are a great place to start, but the reality is that ALL conventional produce is sprayed with pesticides, many of which are known to cause cancer and other illnesses, so choose organic as much as possible and keep those chemicals out of your body.

Life (work, kids, activities) can sometimes get in the way of eating healthy, and many of us, me included, fall to the mercy of fast food to get us through dinnertime. While there are many healthy fast food options here in Orange County for us to choose from, that is not the case in most of America. Take a look at this comparison by registered dietician Carole Bartolotto at The Huffington Post, comparing a Standard American Diet (SAD) meal with plant based foods meal:

The classic American meal is a burger, fries, and a coke. At McDonald’s, you can buy the following for 1,140 calories:
◦ Quarter Pounder with cheese
◦ Medium order of fries
◦ Medium coke

Or you can have the following plant foods for 1,140 calories.
◦ 3 cups spring mix salad greens
◦ 3 tablespoons hummus
◦ ½ cup kidney beans
◦ 1 cup carrots
◦ 1 cup tomatoes
◦ 1 cup artichoke hearts
◦ 1 cup sugar snap peas
◦ 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar mixed with 2 tablespoons of hummus as a salad dressing
And for dessert:
◦ 2 apples
◦ 2 bananas
◦ 2 cups of blueberries

Which would you choose? Clearly the plant based meal has a much higher nutritional quantity and you can be guaranteed to be eating real food, not chemicals or heart clogging saturated fats.

If you’re new to the plant based lifestyle, and not quite accustomed to eating so many veggies at once, or if you think you might not have a lot of time during the week to prep your food, a simple way to start adding in more fruits and veggies into your meals is to start making smoothies. I didn’t start eating plant based foods overnight, it was a slow process, and I’m still learning a lot about food today, but it’s important to not overwhelm yourself, so pick one meal a day and substitute what you would normally eat with fruits and veggies instead. And breakfast is the easiest meal to start with.

When I first became vegan I went out and bought a Vitamix, and today, it’s the most used kitchen appliance in our house. First of all, the blender chews up the food for you, so you’re able to consume more fruits and veggies in one sitting than if you were to chew them yourself.

Smoothies are also a fabulous way to add in raw, leafy greens without much effort. Spinach is my personal favorite to sneak in because it contains good amounts of protein and calcium (1 cup = 1 gram of protein and 30 mg of calcium) and it has very little flavor, so the kids never know that it’s in there. And, unlike juicing, you’re still getting all the fiber!

Here are two of our families go-to smoothies – both are kid approved and requested! And if you’re feeling ready for more than a smoothie, here is a great website to check out with recipes and meal plans – Plant Based On A Budget. With the right tools and tips, eating more plants is easier than you think!

Photo by Tammi Ameli @gmofreegirl

Photo by Tammi Ameli @gmofreegirl

Green Monster
2 Bananas
2 Cups spinach
3 Cups almond milk
2 Tbsp nut butter
1 Cup ice
1 Tsp coconut nectar

Chocolate Lovers Smoothie
**You can use any chocolate protein powder, but I love the Amazing Grass brand because it’s raw, vegan, gluten free, sugar free, organic, and it contains fruits, veggies, and probiotics**
3 Cups Unsweetened Almond Milk
2 Bananas
6 Pitted Dates
2-3 Tbs Raw Cacao Powder
2 Cups Ice
2 Tbs Amazing Grass Green Superfood – Chocolate Infusion

Tammi is a vegan wife and stay at home mother of 3 children living in Laguna Niguel. She is an environmental advocate and volunteer for Food & Water Watch, an avid recipe tester, and passionate about organic living. When she’s not cooking or blogging, she’s driving her kids around to karate, tennis, youth group, swimming, drama club or Kumon. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at GMO Free Girl.
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  1. I’m really trying to be better about eating more fruits and veggies. It’s so important for us.

  2. I have often thought of a more plant based diet but hate to say I eat fast food way more than I should. Great post.

  3. These smoothies sound delicious! We already love our green monster smoothie. I love freezing the bananas first before blending them up to make it more creamy.

  4. I’m still working my way up to trying the green monster! I’m sure this takes a lot of discipline.

  5. We’ve been eating a plant-based diet for over 2 years. I just wrote an ebook called The Plant-Bases Diet Starter Guide. Let me know if you’d like to review a copy!

    • Hello Holly,
      I’d love to have a copy of your ebook.

  6. What are the ingredients in the top picture?

  7. What do I use to substitute the following foods that I am allergic to: spinach, almonds, oranges and squash. Thank you 🙂

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