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Why You Might Want to Try a Plant-Based Diet in 2024

Plus, three easy and delicious recipes to get you started.

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Three plant based recipes on a bright blue background with toppings and napkins
Danielle Atkins (Food and prop stylist: Teresa Blackburn)
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With a growing recognition of sustainable living and health-conscious food choices, older adults are increasingly discovering the benefits of transitioning to vegan meals. Beyond reducing your carbon footprint, embracing plant-based nutrition can also lead to a host of health advantages, including improved heart health, enhanced weight management and a reduced risk of chronic illnesses.

What’s more, as many of us ponder the planet's future, older adults are finding that adopting a more plant-based approach not only supports wellness but also contributes to a more sustainable and eco-friendly world for generations to come.

For me, the quest is also close to home. I come from a family that is genetically predisposed to heart disease. Thus, paying extra attention to my diet has been a big priority. I plan my meals around vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts and beans to make sure I get all the essential vitamins and minerals for optimal health. Staying away from heavily processed meals and eating food that grows right up from the earth isn't just a culinary choice. It’s a profound commitment to your well-being and the health of our planet.

As we navigate the golden years, let us redefine our relationship with food. The below recipes are both a feast for the palate and a celebration of life itself. So, let the kitchen be your canvas, as you create with the colors of nature a healthy plant-based meal.

May this journey toward a vibrant plant-forward life be delicious and satisfying as you start a new year.

My approach is to build menus that include a bean, a green and a grain. Here are three recipes that do just that.
 

Plant based recipe Joy Luck Bowl on a green background with chopsticks
Danielle Atkins (Food and prop stylist: Teresa Blackburn)

Joy Luck Tofu Bowl

Serves 2

2 cups brown rice or 7 ounces brown rice noodles

1 14-ounce block of extra firm organic tofu, drained and pressed and cut into ¾-inch cubes

2 tablespoons tamari or coconut aminos

1 tablespoon sriracha sauce (optional)

1 red onion, sliced in quarters and separated

1 cup shiitake mushrooms, cut in half

1 cup button mushrooms, cut in half

2 cups broccoli florets

2 baby bok choy, sliced vertically into quarters

2 cups baby spinach or tatsoi

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

2 tablespoons cashews

3 scallions, sliced on a diagonal

Joy Luck Sauce

1 teaspoon miso

3 tablespoons tahini or almond butter

2 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1 Medjool date

2 tablespoons lime juice or rice wine vinegar

¼ cup water

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cook the rice or noodles according to package directions and set aside to keep warm. Marinade the tofu, onions and mushrooms in the tamari and sriracha sauce for 15 minutes. Spread the tofu, mushrooms and onions on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes. Add all the ingredients for the Joy Luck Sauce to a blender and blend until smooth. Adjust the seasoning if needed. Steam the bok choy and broccoli for 4-5 minutes and then add the spinach or tatsoi at the end for a minute to soften. Divide the rice or noodles into serving bowls and top with the steamed green vegetables, baked tofu, mushrooms and onions. Drizzle a couple of tablespoons of sauce over top and garnish with the sesame seeds, cashews and scallions. Serve extra sauce on the side.
 

Plant based recipe Mediterranean Lentil Soup
Danielle Atkins (Food and prop stylist: Teresa Blackburn)

Mediterranean Lentil Soup

Serves 6-8

1 cup onion, diced

1 cup carrots, diced

1 cup celery, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons cumin

2 tablespoons Herbs d Provence

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 bay leaves

1 14-ounce can fire roasted tomatoes

1 cup green or brown lentils

1 cup brown rice

8 cups vegetable broth

3-4 leaves kale, steamed and torn

Salt-free seasoning and pepper, to taste

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar or lemon juice

Instructions

Add the onions, carrots and celery to a large Dutch oven or soup pot and sauté for 4-5 minutes. Add the spices and tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the bay leaves, tomatoes, lentils, brown rice and vegetable broth and bring it to a boil. Lower to a simmer, cover with a lid and simmer for 30 minutes. Take out the bay leaves and discard them. Season to taste if needed. Stir in the kale and let it soften in the heat of the soup before serving. Add a splash of red wine vinegar or a squeeze of lemon juice to each bowl right before serving.

Note: the soup will thicken as it sits so you may need to add extra water or broth to thin it out.

Plant based recipe Tropical Quinoa Salad in a wood bowl and surrounding toppings
Danielle Atkins (Food and prop stylist: Teresa Blackburn)

Tropical Quinoa Salad

Serves 4

I head romaine or Boston bib lettuce, separated

3 cups cooked quinoa, cooled

1 ½ cups cooked edamame

1 cup mango, cubed

1 cup pineapple, cubed

1 cup celery, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

½ cup red or green onion, chopped

½ cup Deglet Noor dates, chopped or ½ cup raisins

½ cup cilantro, chopped

½ cup purple cabbage, shredded

½ cup raw cashews or pistachios

Salad Dressing Ingredients

¼ cup fresh squeezed orange juice

2 tablespoons tahini

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 large Medjool date

2-3 tablespoons water to thin, if needed

½ teaspoon salt-free seasoning

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

Add all the ingredients for the dressing to a small blender and blend until smooth. Adjust the seasoning and add more water if needed. Add all the salad ingredients (except the cilantro, cabbage and pistachios) to a bowl and toss together. Add half the dressing to the salad and toss to combine. Spoon the salad into the lettuce leaves then top with the cilantro, cabbage and pistachios. Serve with extra dressing on the side.

Have any of you tried a plant-based diet? How did it go? Let us know in the comments below.

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