Peanut Butter Blast Smoothie Bowl Recipe

Here is the last recipe in this smoothie bowl series! What I love about this recipe is the simplicity but deliciousness of this combination! The banana provides sweetness, and the peanut butter creates the creaminess which combine for a very tasty and satisfying bowl. Smoothie bowls have grown in popularity because they are easy to prepare, quick to eat and can be very nutrient dense – which is important when you are looking for ways to save time and maximize your nutrition.

Whether you’re looking for a morning energy boost, pre-workout power-up this smoothie bowl is sure to deliver as between the two feature ingredients you get all three of the macronutrients – carbohydrates, proteins and fat!

Peanut butter is a good source of plant-based protein and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. They also contain good amounts of vitamin E, folate, niacin, magnesium, and fibre!

Bananas are a great source of carbohydrates and provide great amounts of potassium, vitamin B6 and pectin, as type of soluble fibre which may help lower LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) levels.

Healthy Tip: Make sure you use creamy and natural peanut butter – without the added sugar, salt and emulsifiers!

Top your smoothie bowl with a little shredded coconut, granola, sliced banana or or other fresh fruit or chopped peanuts!

Looking for some other great recipes? Check out the first three in this smoothie bowl series: Berry Bliss Smoothie Bowl, Super Green Smoothie Bowl and Tropical Twist Smoothie Bowl.

Fun fact – This recipe was inspired by the amazing peanut butter smoothie bowl I had when I was in Thailand.

Tropical Twist Smoothie Bowl

This smoothie bowl tastes like sunset on the beach! Tropical fruits have this way of adding a freshness and vibrancy to recipes. This recipe brings together juicy mango, sweet pineapple and creamy banana and a hint of coconut for a healthy and tasty meal!

Smoothie bowls are refreshing, easy to make and contain many nutrients which supports maintaining good health. They are simple to make and easy to eat!

Pineapple provides good amounts of thiamine, Vitamin C and manganese. Manganese is an important mineral used in bone and connective tissue formation and maintenance.

Mango are a good source of beta-carotene, a carotenoid which is converted to Vitamin A in the body, and functions as an antioxidant. In addition, like many fruits and vegetables they provide good amounts of Vitamin C and fibre, specifically a soluble fibre called pectin. Mangos are one of a few fruits and vegetables that contain Vitamin E.

Bananas are a great source of potassium which is important for regulating blood pressure. They also provide pectin.

The fruits in this smoothie bowl provide carotenoids, the yellow-orange pigments, that have many potential health benefits.

Top your smoothie bowl with some extra fruit or shredded coconut.

Make it a regular smoothie by adding extra milk or pineapple juice.

Top your smoothie bowl with some extra fruit or shredded coconut.

Make it a regular smoothie by adding extra milk or pineapple juice.

If you haven’t yet, check out the first two recipes in this smoothie bowl series, check out Berry Bliss Smoothie Bowl and the Super Green Smoothie Bowl.

Stay tuned for next week’s final recipe in this smoothie bowl series!

Super Green Smoothie Bowl Recipe

Week 2 of the March smoothie bowl series. Smoothie bowls are simple, satisfying, and delicious nutritional powerhouses! They provide a solution for an easy nutrition boost whether it is starting your day, getting a mid-day energy boost, or powering up with pre-workout snack.

Eating green leafy vegetables is important. It is recommended for good health to eat one dark green leafy vegetable every day1. but it can be challenging to find enjoyable ways to incorporate them into meals, as they are often bitter and need to be cooked or broken down before being consumed. You can easily achieve the recommendation for a dark green vegetable with this smooth, creamy and very tasty smoothie bowl – you will not even notice the greens!

Kale is a dark green leafy vegetable that has risen to popularity as a widely recognized super green. Kale provides fibre, vitamin C, calcium, and vitamin B6 and phytochemicals and antioxidants which may help reduce free radical damage and protect against some forms of cancer.

Avocado is a nutrient dense super food. Avocados are usual in that they are one of few fruits and vegetables that contain fat. However, the fat found in avocados is the good kind of heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Bananas provide a significant amount of potassium, which is important for maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance – something that is especially important if you are physically active. Potassium is also important for regulating blood pressure. Bananas also provide vitamin B6 and soluble fibre which helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels in the body by lowering the “bad” LDL cholesterol.

Add sliced banana and shredded coconut for a garnish.

If you would rather make this smoothie “bowl” into a regular smoothie, just increase the volume of liquid by doubling the milk.

Be sure to check out last week’s Berry Bliss Smoothie Bowl recipe and stay tuned for next week’s smoothie bowl recipe!

Berry Bliss Smoothie Bowl Recipe

Smoothie bowls are easy to make and when using real, wholesome ingredients, super nutritious and delicious! If you are short on time but looking for options to eat well and nourish your mind and body, I highly recommend giving them a try! This is the first in a smoothie bowl series I have created and am excited to share!

This Berry Bliss Bowl will help you start your morning in a state of serenity! No matter what the day has in store for you – a healthy and nutritious breakfast will set you up strong and put you in the right frame of mind to have you ready to take on anything and everything!

Some feature ingredients to highlight in this recipe are:

Berries are extremely nutritious. Their dark colour indicates they are rich in antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins, which can protect the body from cell damage which may lead to aging and certain diseases.

Flax Seeds are a great source of fibre and omega-3 fatty acids which may help reduce heart disease risk. The fibre in flax is responsible for supporting intestinal health and functioning and may also lower blood-cholesterol. Flax seeds also have lignans which are a phytonutrient which may protect our bodies from certain cancers.

Cinnamon is a spice and beneficial for many reasons, including it’s properties as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

For this recipe I used coconut milk and coconut yogurt. This will make it a vegan option.

Top your smoothie bowl with some extra berries, bananas, cereal or granola if you want a more wholesome meal.

Alternatively, if you want to make this smoothie “bowl” into a regular smoothie, just increase the liquid by doubling the milk.

Stay tuned for next week’s smoothie bowl recipe!

Heart Healthy Chocolate Mousse Recipe

Looking for a sweet treat that is simple to make this valentine’s day – or any day! February is heart health month and nutrition plays an important role keeping our hearts strong and healthy.

The secret ingredient that makes this recipe so rich, creamy and heart-healthy is … avocado! Avocados are an unusual fruit. Unlike other fruits they are high in fat – but this is a good kind of dietary fat! Avocados are a source of mono-unsaturated fatty acids – a healthy fat which helps lower LDL “bad” cholesterol and cholesterol levels which lowers the risk for heart disease. Potassium is another nutrient found in avocados which may prevent or lower blood pressure which reduces the risk of stroke and heart disease. Avocados are also a good source of fibre which is also important for heart health by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.

Make It A More Empowering Eat Tip: Serve with sliced fresh strawberries of sprinkle with unsweetened shredded coconut or slivered almonds for a flavourful nutritional boost!

Roasted Vegetables Recipe

When it is cold outside, I find a dish of warm roasted vegetables is so comforting. Vegetables are incredibly versatile and this recipe is so easy to prepare. So what’s not to love about them! Roasted vegetables are are a great addition to the table in the fall and winter months. They are a great option for vegan and vegetarian  meal planning.

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You can use any vegetables you like but the combination I have been working with lately includes broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, green peppers and onions. I find this combination offers a variety of flavours and textures that go well together. Using a red pepper instead of a green one would create an even more festive appearance to this dish if you are looking for a great addition to you holiday meal menus – just saying!

You can adjust the spices you use as you feel you need. If you want to keep it simple just season the vegetables with salt and pepper. Otherwise, you can use the other spices I recommend (garlic powder and chili powder) for a little extra kick and to round out the flavour.

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Vegetables are nutritionally very important. Besides the different vitamins and minerals they contain which are important for the health and vitality of our bodies, vegetables are a source of fibre which is extremely important for proper functioning of the digestive track and soluble fibre may help with lowering LDL or “bad” cholesterol which may reduce the risk for heart disease.

Cooking vegetables, especially fall and winter root vegetables, is important because it makes it easier for us to eat and digest them. Roasting is a healthy cooking method which uses dry heat to cook food. The food is covered and cooked in the oven. This method helps preserve nutrients of the vegetables more than other methods like boiling. The process of roasting does much to enhance the flavours of the food in the cooking process.

Broccoli is a high-fibre, nutrient dense food making it a nutritional powerhouse! Just some of the important nutrients found in broccoli include B vitamins, folate, riboflavin, potassium, iron and vitamin C. Broccoli also provides carotenoids beta carotene and lutein. Beta carotene is converted to Vitamin A in the body. Lutein has been shown to protect vision from macular degeneration by possibly functioning as an antioxidant to protect the eyes from free-radical damaged caused by UV rays from sunlight. Cooking actually makes these caroteinoids more bioavailable so your body can process and start using them more easily!

Cauliflower provides vitamin C, folate, vitamin B6 as well as potassium. It is also low in calories and an excellent source of fibre.

Carrots offer a great source fibre, potassium, vitamin B6. Carrots appropriately contain compounds called carotenoids, which may have antioxidant properties. Beta carotene is one of these which can be found in carrots but carrots also provide alpha carotene and lutein.

Olive Oil is a source of healthy fats like mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) which have improved blood cholesterol levels. Olive oil is also a source of Vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin with powerful antioxidant properties.

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This is an easy side dish to prepare and serve with any sort of entree or cooked meat. The simplicity of the recipe means that it won’t clash with anything else you are cooking. The vegetables will have a subtle but substantial presence in your meal. You can also add chopped up roasted vegetables to pasta, rice or quinoa to make a more substantial meal or add them to a salad to boost your vegetables intake. Either make them for one of these meal planning options specifically or reinvent your leftovers. You can easily double or triple this recipe which makes it great for batch cooking!

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How to Redefine and Enhance your Connection with Food

Your connection to food is something you will carry with you through the rest of your life. The foods we choose to eat and how they make us feel have such an impact on our lives. Improving our connection to food is something we can all commit to and strive for.  It is always evolving as we encounter new situations and gain new knowledge and understanding of ourselves and our world.

Although we live at a time like no other in our food history, when there has never been such an array of food products available and food transportation around the globe has never been so limitless, there simultaneously exists such a disconnection between ourselves and the foods we eat. A disconnection that is detrimental to our health and natural state of being. How do we rebuild our food connectivity?

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First, there is the question of how do we become disconnected with food? So many factors shape our lives and our identities. One would think in this age of incredible interconnectivity across the globe we would be more connected. However, when you consider the vast amounts of boxed, packaged, prepared and “ready in 90 second” meal options out there it is easy to lose sight of and connection to what exactly “real food” is. A lack of connection is noticeable if you learn how to look for and observe it.

Our assumptions about food are another factor that contribute to this disconnect. Assumption are our taken for granted beliefs that something is real, when it may not be. Assumptions influence our actions and behaviours–sometimes without us even realizing it. How about “Eating healthy takes too much time” or “Eating healthy costs too much”. Our assumptions can hold us back and impede living authentically and finding the solutions we need to live our best lives.

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Here are some ideas on how to find a new perspective and create a new level of connection with food.

  • The most important thing you can do is gain awareness. Realize what you are eating and why you are eating. What foods do you purchase and where do you shop? You will gain tremendous insight from taking a moment to reflect, pause and examine the interwoven connections of where food comes from and how it got to your table.

 

  • Following this is being honest. And this is the hard one. Be honest with how you feel towards the food you eat and how the foods you eat affect you. If something is not serving you can you be honest enough to acknowledge that and let it go.

 

  • Eat Real by enjoying food in its purest form – as nature intended and gifted it to us. Real food is a natural source of energy and nutrients which is more sustainable and empowering than processed alternatives. Change takes time so start gradually by making more and more wholesome, natural food choices when you can. It might not always be possible, and we need some flexibility in our lives, but it will amaze you at the shifts you see in your eating habits and how you feel.

 

  • Try something new! It’s exciting and refreshing to try a new food or a new recipe. When you are interested and excited about what you are about to eat you naturally will feel more connected to it.

 

  • Visit a local farmers’ market or find sources for local food options. Eating locally and meeting the people who grow your food builds bridges and connections.

 

  • Eat mindfully and be grateful to maximize your satisfaction and satiation with your food. The simplest act of respecting and being grateful for the food you have to eat compounds your connection with food. How can you show more gratitude and appreciation for the foods you eat? The practice of saying grace is eternal, it only takes a few words at the beginning of your meal to cultivate the feeling of compassion for yourself and the food you are about to eat.

 

  • Notice and build awareness of assumptions and the ways these influence actions and behaviours and, if necessary, change them. Doing so can help you become more in aligned with what is real and authentic. You will gain tremendous insight from examining the interwoven connections of where food comes from and how it got to your table. We often form assumptions. What assumptions do you make about food?

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Especially around holidays, we have the time to connect with one another and be grateful for and celebrate the food that we have. But in reality fueling your connection to food is something that will take more practice and persistence. At the end of the day deep down we all want to eat and feel good and building a healthy connection with food supports this. What are some ways you will nourish and improve your food connection?

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The Basics of Batch Cooking

Even with a great routine in place, who wouldn’t like to save time, money and energy and still eat healthy?

Batch cooking refers to the process of preparing recipes in a large enough quantity to have several portions left-over. These extra portions are saved for future meals. Cooking this way speeds up meal planning and preparation, making it easier to follow healthy eating habits. Some examples of recipes that are good for batch cooking include chili, soups, pasta sauces and casseroles.

Batch cooking is a great way to simplify your meal planning, save time and money by shopping and cooking less and help the environment! Weekends are a great time to cook up a big batch of one of your favourite recipes so you will save so much time during the week.

With the holidays coming, which are all about cooking great meals–often in large quantities – it’s a great time to use these strategies to learn and apply to save your leftovers to reduce food waste.

To make this work, it is important to know how to store your leftover food properly. Before storing leftovers make sure you allow food to cool slightly (do not leave out of the refrigerator for more than two hours) but once cooled you can package and store it. Store leftovers in clean, airtight containers for a 2-3 days after cooking or freeze for up to 2-3 months (i.e. make your own “frozen dinners”–minus the added calories, fat and salt). Defrost leftovers in the refrigerator the night before you want to eat them to make reheating them easier.

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Worried about getting bored? It’s understandable. Everyone is different in their food comfort and preferences. Some of us are fine with eating the same thing over and over again, day after day and that is fine.  It does take a lot of the thinking out of what we will eat. Others may need more variety and shaking things up their meals. With batch cooking you can meet both needs! The secret is to pick a basic recipe that can be easily reinvented into something else. For example, make a basic chili recipe which you can have chili one day, a taco salad the next day, use as a pasta sauce the day after… Eat roasted vegetables on their own. Add the leftovers to cooked quinoa to make a vegetable pilaf or layer them in a salad with a handful of fresh greens. Keep it simple and you will not only save yourself time and energy but can have some great, empowering meal combinations!

Looking for more ideas to save time, energy and make the most of your meals at home? Eating at home has swiftly become the new normal, whether we like it or not, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. There are benefits to this if you take the opportunity to cook from scratch and take more ownership of your meal preparation, but there can also be a feeling of being limited, running out of ideas on what to cook and even becoming bored with your options. Even more of a challenge is not having enough information and skills to be able to make the shift from dependency on eating out to eating at home every day for every meal and not knowing where to start. Whether you are in need of some help with your transition to at home meal preparation or just looking to add variety with fresh ideas and perspectives while not having to worry so much about what you are cooking, a meal delivery service could be a highly viable and supportive option to help you with eating healthy at home. There are many meal delivery service options, which may easily make deciding on the right one and feeling confident in your choice overwhelming. ConsumersAdvocate.org created this comprehensive and in-depth guide on meal delivery services that will facilitate meals for those who simply don’t have the time to cook for their family or for those who are searching for options that will minimize their exposure to Covid-19. 

 

Big Batch Vegetarian Chili

When it starts to get cold, and there’s a chill in the air, there’s nothing like having a warm hearty bowl of something tasty. This is a very basic chili recipe which is easy to make, filling and perfect for meal prep or batch cooking. It’s also vegetarian and vegan friendly. Check out the recipe as well as tricks and tricks below!

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Not only does this recipe have spices to give it flavour but several key ingredients boost the nutritional power. All these ingredients are plant-based.

Tomatoes are a good source of dietary fibre, potassium, iron. Like other fruits and vegetables, tomatoes are source of antioxidants. Tomatoes are one of the major sources of the carotenoid lycopene. Lycopene is of particular interest because it may possibly reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers. Cooking tomatoes actually enhances their lycopene content.

Sweet Peppers are a good source of Vitamin C and dietary fibre. They give some colour and added flavour to this recipe.

Capsaicin is a phytochemical found in chili powder and paprika. This is the compound that gives peppers their spiciness. Capsaicin has been widely studied for many different properties which include boosting metabolism and decreasing the risk of some cancers.

Beans and lentils are an incredibly good source of fibre. They also are a vegetarian and low-fat source of protein. This combination of nutrients it was makes them very sustaining. Not only is fibre filling the soluble fibre in beans and lentils may also help lower LDL “bad” cholesterol. Folate and B Vitamins are also found in beans. Some other minerals can be found in beans and lentils including potassium, magnesium, selenium and iron. Iron is of particular importance for anyone following a vegetarian or vegan diet to try and incorporate into their meals.

Recipe Suggestions: Serve topped with some crushed whole grain tortilla chips, diced avocado, shredded cheddar cheese, or even low-fat sour cream or Greek yogurt!

 

Tips and Tricks

When batch cooking sometimes it is easy to get bored of eating the same thing over again. Here are five variations or hybrid recipes for the basic chili recipe. You will never get bored of batch cooking this recipe when you have these easy variations to mix up your meal plan!

Tex-Mex Casserole – Mix basic chili with cooked rice or quinoa. Pour into a baking dish and sprinkle with shredded cheese. Broil in oven until topping is golden brown and cheese melted.

Taco Salad – Start with a base of your favourite salad greens. Layer with chili, chopped avocado, shredded cheese and tortilla chips.

Chili Pie – Put chili into a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. Top with either a batch of cornbread or mashed potatoes, or sweet potatoes. Bake in 350 F oven until cornbread is baked or potatoes are golden brown.

Chili Stuffed Peppers – Clean bell peppers and chop off their tops. Cook peppers in boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove and stuff with chili then top with shredded cheese. Bake, covered, in a 350 F oven for 30 minutes until cheese is melted.

Chili Pasta – Use the chili as a pasta sauce for whole grain pasta and top with grated cheese.

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Vegetarian Diets Explained – What Are the Advantages and What You Need to Know to Make It Work for You

The trend for following a plant-based diet has boomed recently. Just look at all the options for plant-based burgers on menus these day. What does this trend mean and why is this significant? No matter the type of vegetarian diet you follow, or even if you are a veterinarian or not, we can all enjoy and benefit from incorporating a variety of fruits and vegetables into our diets. Plants are powerful and they provide many known and as yet to be fully discovered and understood benefits for our health. Some of these known benefits include the high fibre content, which is important for digestive health and function. There are many studies on the effects of vegetarian diets and decreased risk for various types of cancer. Part of this is that Fruits and vegetables are natural sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants are important for many reasons in the maintenance of good health and prevention of many chronic diseases. Fruits and vegetables are also lower in calories and fat than other foods. Part of this is because of their high water content which means they will also help with keeping you hydrated which is so important for health, well-being and feeling your best.

Besides health, there are many other reasons individuals choose a vegetarian diet. Some of these include food preferences, religious beliefs and environmental concerns. Plant-based diets are being promoted for how they can support and reduce the effects of climate change, as the energy requirements for growing and supporting animals is much higher than it is for plants, and eating more plants can help us with sustainability measures.

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Something that is not very well or often known is that there are different types of vegetarian diets. When most people say they are vegetarian they are following a “lacto-ovo” vegetarian diet so they do not eat any animal meat, but they still eat dairy products and eggs. A semi-vegetarian or “flexitarian” will eat dairy, eggs and sometimes eat meat, poultry and fish. A “pescatarian” is a vegetarian who eats eggs, dairy and fish but no other meats. And a “vegan” is a vegetarian who does not eat any kind of animal foods (i.e. no eggs, dairy and honey). There are lots of options and approaches to following a vegetarian lifestyle to make it work.

Regardless of the reason or motivation, fruits and vegetables are an essential part of every diet and learning to incorporate a balanced variety of them into your meals will do much to support your overall health, vitality and longevity.

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There are some important considerations if you follow a vegetarian diet include. Otherwise, there is a potential for nutrient deficiencies. With the proper planning, however, these concerns can be addressed.

Protein is often a concern for people following a vegetarian diet, especially those who are physically active and looking to improve strength and stamina. What you need to know about is called protein complimentation. While meat offers the advantage of having all the essential amino acids in one food, it is not  impossible to achieve this with plants. With plant-based foods, which don’t often have all the essential amino acids in the same food, you just  have to make sure you eat a variety of different foods which combined together make a complete protein. For instance, grains have an amino acid that beans and legumes are lacking. A misconception is that the two foods have to be eaten at the same time in the same meal. Provided we eat them within the same day your body will break down the proteins into their amino acids and properly use them in your body. Some plan-based foods already come with all the essential amino acids. These special foods include quinoa and edamame or soy products.

On a vegetarian diet there are more than enough ways to meet your body’s requirements for protein. Ensuring that there is variety in protein sources with foods that collectively cover all the essential amino acids is the key.

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Some vitamins and minerals that are more easily available to the body from animal products. They are important for the health and functioning of the body, so it is important to know what they are and make sure you are incorporating them into your diet from plant-based sources as much as possible.

Iron is a particularly important mineral. We need iron for production of haemoglobin and the transportation of oxygen in our blood. Heme iron is the iron available from animal products while non-heme iron is the iron available from plant sources. Heme iron is naturally easier for the body to utilize. A quick tip is to combine the food containing iron with a food containing vitamin C because Vitamin C helps with iron absorption. Another tip is not to eat a food containing iron with a food containing calcium or with coffee or tea. Give a few hours between the two as calcium and coffee/tea interfere with iron absorption. Plant-based sources of iron include; fortified breakfast cereals, soy-based foods, dried prunes and apricots, beans and legumes, pumpkin seeds, eggs and fortified whole-grain breads.

Another important nutrient that it’s challenging to get enough of on a vegetarian diet is Vitamin B12, which is naturally found in animal products. A deficiency in Vitamin B12 can lead to anemia and muscle weakness. There are some fortified cereals, soy beverages or some fortified veggie mats or you may require a supplement to ensure adequate Vitamin B12.

Calcium is a mineral found mainly in milk and dairy products. Some vegetarians who consume dairy products may not need to worry about the amount of calcium in their diets. Vegan vegetarians will want to look for plant-based sources of calcium such as edamame, almonds, calcium-fortified non-dairy beverages (i.e. Almond Milk), spinach, collar greens, and more.

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Awareness is key to developing healthy eating habits and eating to empower you. Whether you feel like following a vegetarian diet or maybe having vegetarian meals more often there is tremendous power in plants to nourish and sustain us. Following a vegetarian diet definitely does not have to be blah! Vegetables are versatile and the options and combinations of foods is infinite.

How will you harness the power of plants?