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10 Health Tips for Vegan Nova Scotians

It’s easier than ever for Nova Scotians to follow a vegan diet. You can find versatile, healthy and affordable plant-based ingredients no matter where you get your groceries. Many vegan foods are also considered “super foods” and offer a bigger health bang for your buck. Here are 10 tips for the next time you’re filling the cart.

1. Great greens

You’ve heard about the benefits of iron-rich dark leafy greens like spinach, chard and kale. But do you know about combining those greens with foods rich in vitamin C to help your body better absorb that iron? Try a stir-fry with Swiss chard and bell peppers or a strawberry smoothie made with a handful of spinach.

2. Amazing avocados

Not only are avocados a fantastic source of monounsaturated, or “good,” fat (30 grams each), they help you to feel fuller and speed up your metabolism. (They’re also amazing in vegan chocolate pudding.)

3. The rainbow connection

Go beyond green and put all the colours of the rainbow on your plate. Confused about what makes a serving size? Forget measuring cups: The U.S. Department of Agriculture now recommends filling “half your plate” with fruits and vegetables.

4. All in oats

Whether you prefer steel-cut or rolled, a hot bowl of this nutritious grain is an ideal breakfast choice for vegans. Both styles are high in protein and fibre (5 grams and 4 grams respectively) and low in fat.

5. Facts about flax (and other beneficial seeds)

Vegans looking for animal-free omega-3 fatty acids can turn to flax and other super seeds like chia and hemp. Add a spoonful or two of your favourite seeds into soups, pasta and smoothies.

6. Use your brains about grains

Replace refined grains (like white pasta) with whole grains (like brown rice and quinoa) to add iron and B vitamins to your diet. Bonus: The extra fibre in whole grain foods helps to keep you feeling full.

7. Tofu: It’s what’s for breakfast

Tofu is a protein superstar, making it an ideal ingredient for breakfast. Try a southwest tofu scramble in place of eggs. (Tip: Store extra-firm tofu in the freezer, thaw and squeeze out excess water before crumbling.)

8. Got calcium?

If dairy isn’t part of your diet, you’ll need alternative calcium-rich foods like almonds, navel oranges, soybeans, figs, and greens like kale and bok choy. Calcium-fortified foods like cereals, plant-based milks and tofu made with calcium sulfate are good too.

9. Love those lentils

These legumes are low in fat, high in fibre, contain significant amounts of seven important minerals, B vitamins and protein, and offer tremendous benefits to heart health. They’re simple to prepare, and easy on the waistline and wallet.

10. Be aware of B12

Common in animal-based foods, vitamin B12 is also found in nutritional yeast (a tasty replacement for Parmesan cheese) and fortified vegan foods like plant beverages (such as rice, nut or soy milk) or fortified breakfast cereal. Make sure your multivitamin contains between 5 and 10 micrograms of B12 and you’ll “B” fine.

Your turn: Share your vegan tips and recipes in the comment section below.

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