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Plant Power!

Plant Power!

We've heard so much about the virtues of eating more plants- everything from improving your diet to benefiting the planet- so we wanted to dig into the plant-based movement with Silvana, the chef and founder of Soul Cocina. We talked about the inspiration behind her tasty and colorful meals, and why she believes everyone can benefit from incorporating more veggies into their diet. She specializes in plant-based & gluten free meals that are wholesome and delicious, and you can find her menu on Supper Meals each week. 

SMWhat inspires you to cook?

Silvana: At Soul Cocina, we understand the time and effort it takes to eat healthy. Our aim is to deliver ready-made meals that both taste amazing and are rich in vitamins, minerals and nutrients. All you need to do is reheat and enjoy! 

I'm originally from a Latin American culture that is centered on community and agriculture, so I wanted to bring that to North Carolina with Soul Cocina, a culinary experience that focuses on healthy, mindful eating.

SM: How would you describe your nutrition philosophy?

Silvana: We don’t believe in stringent calorie counting. Instead, we believe in counting the quality of nutrition. Good fats are essential to optimal body function. Your body cannot live without fat! If you eat wholefoods, sugar-free, plant-based food, your body is going to process it quickly and efficiently, converting it into a vital energy source.  It’s going to heal your body, nourish your cells, increase your skin elasticity and boost your brain function. 

All of our products are 100% free of refined sugar, gluten and wheat free, no added MSG, artificial coloring, additives or preservatives and 100% fresh.  Our meals do not contain eggs, dairy, or any other animal products. We don’t believe in fad or short-term diets; instead, we believe in creating long term, sustainable and healthy eating choices to give you a renewed vitality and the natural tools to thrive and feel the best you possibly can.

SM: We're loving your packaging! Can you talk a little about how you think about eating plant-based in the context of sustainability?

Silvana: Healthy food deserves healthy packaging. We use sustainable, compostable, biodegradable and recyclable packaging. Our packaging is made from plant fibers, is free of harmful chemicals and is safe for the environment. Our containers are microwave, oven and freezer safe. The lids are microwave safe but not oven safe. 

Give me all the Quinoa with Melissa Guido

Melissa Guido, Registered Dietitian, foodie, and quinoa-maker, is sharing 3 ways to incorporate more quinoa into your diet. Because in addition to being tricky to pronounce, quinoa is really good for you and super tasty. She's got a great video that accompanies this blog, and includes the recipes, so thanks, Melissa, for making quinoa a little less intimidating!

As a dietitian, I don’t believe in “super foods”, but I do believe there are some “trendy” foods out there that are worth the hype. Quinoa has burst on to the health food scene pretty quickly in the last year or two, and I’m a certainly glad it has. Quinoa is an ancient grain with many proven health benefits, including the fact that it is high in fiber and packed full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Quinoa is gluten free and contains Manganese, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Folate, Copper, Iron, and Zinc, Potassium, and B Vitamins. Not only that, but quinoa contains all nine amino acids essential to the human body, making it a Complete protein, just like animal protein sources.

            While quinoa has become increasingly popular, it can be a little foreign and intimidating to someone who has never eaten, or tried to cook it before. I assure you it is simple and fool-proof, but just incase you need a little more encouragement, I wanted to share a few different ways you can incorporate this nutritious grain into your diet.  

Quinoa for Breakfast

We eat oats for breakfast, so why not quinoa? The nutty flavor of this grain mixes perfectly with something like bananas, cinnamon, and milk to make a satisfying morning meal. The high fiber content will keep you full and the boost of vitamins and minerals will get your morning off to a healthy start. 

Quinoa Salad 

While quinoa is incredibly nutritious on its own, adding lots of fruits and veggies to the mix can enhance the texture and flavor. I love adding spinach, pomegranate seeds, goat cheese, and chicken to make a tasty and filling entrée. You can also leave out the meat and add any veggies or legumes you want to make the perfect vegetarian entrée or side dish.

Replace a Less Nutritious Grain

Since you know now about some of the amazing health benefits of quinoa, why not use it to replace a less nutritious grain in some of your staple meals. For example, instead of using fried rice in your stir-fry, swap in quinoa to add more fiber, vitamins, and minerals. This is especially great for vegetarians because you will add a whole grain, and a complete protein to the meal by making this easy swap. This can also be done for things like burrito bowls, stuffed peppers, or even Mac n Cheese.

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