Back to the Roots

Why a local mom and blogger transitioned her family to a (mostly) plant-based diet at home and never looked back

  • Category
    Health
  • Written by
    Christine Roth

Photographed by Shane O’Donnell

 

Imagine: You sit down to dinner and your kids fight over who gets the last red pepper of their veggie appetizer, then go on to eat a meal of brown rice pasta with sugar snap peas, broccolini and lentil sauce, followed by an apple for dessert. Two years ago, when I fully committed to eating a plant-based diet and decided to drag my family along for the ride, I would have told you that would NEVER happen in our house. Now it is our evening routine.

But it didn’t start out all that smoothly. They would grunt like cavemen any time the subject of dinner came up. I noticed that I was serving dinners that included healthy starches or grains and vegetables, but the only thing gone on their plates was the meat. I decide to pull a bait and switch on them.

Veggies and healthy grains would be plentiful, and the meat portion would slowly shrink. I wondered if they would even notice. Well they did, and they revolted big-time. A mutiny ensued, so I pulled back and came up with some new tactics.

When my boys would get home from school (I still do this to this day), I had tons of cut-up fruit, nuts, hummus and veggies on a big plate. It included banana with peanut butter, red peppers, carrots, edamame, sugar snap peas, apples, melon, berries and/or avocado toast.

At first they would pick at them. In time they got over their old snacks (chips, Goldfish, etc.), and now they dive into these healthy snacks as if they were Flaming Hot Cheetos.

“For my whole life, I too thought that I had to eat a lot of animal protein to be strong and feel good.”

I have realized through my own journey and through watching my husband and kids that tastes definitely change. It takes serving these foods and making them have a bite 10 to 15 times, but they do change. So don’t lose hope. Be relentless.

Snack foods that are marketed to our kids are manufactured to be super-addictive so they crave them, and it takes a while for them to step away from the dark side. As for meat, my kids can decide one day whether they want to eat it at all. For now they still eat some fish and the very occasional burger (burgers and steak were what they were living on before), but I am thrilled with how many fruits, veggies, whole grains and ridiculously nutrient-dense meals they eat.

My husband is all in! He hated beans, lentils and tofu but now eats them and has done away with all forms of meat. Never in a million years would I have thought that possible for my steak-lover of a husband. But he would like to live longer and feel good doing that. He knows that he is doing everything he can do to make that happen.

For my whole life, I too thought that I had to eat a lot of animal protein to be strong and feel good. It is so engrained in all of us, as we all grew up eating our meat, potatoes and soggy peas. My extensive research into health and nutrition taught me otherwise.

In fact, the best research is pointing to just the opposite being the fountain of youth. Plants have enough protein for us to thrive on. And when we eat this way, we get all of the protective health effects that plants have to offer: tons of cancer fighters, inflammation reducers, blood sugar regulators and heart protectants concentrated in a neat little nutrient-dense package.

 

To read more about Christine Roth’s plant-based diet, you can visit her blog at www.PlantBasedLuv.com.

 

 

 

Before I went plant-based, I had been diagnosed with high cholesterol and the “bad cholesterol” gene and told I would need to go on drugs to lower it. I was also feeling tired and achy all the time and attributed it having two boys and being super-busy.

I set out to find the healthiest way to eat by way of reading tons of research on the subject. I am a physical therapist, so I am pretty good at picking research apart. All roads led to: Eat more plants and live longer with less health problems. Sounded good to me.

I have always loved animals and was so happy not to eat them any more. Not to mention the environment is being raped and pillaged by animal agriculture. One pound of beef … or showers for a family of four for six weeks? Hmmmm? No-brainer. There was too much research to ignore.

People feel guilty taking meat and dairy away from their kids and families. It is so engrained in us that this is what we are supposed to eat, and a ton of it. All of the ads tell us to.

Protein shakes on top of burgers, on top of chicken breasts are putting people at risk of some serious health problems.

I shudder to think about what our kids are in store for, given that they are really the first generation to be so protein-focused and carb-phobic from a very young age (thanks in kind to Dr. Atkins and Paleo). I am, however, watching the paradigm shift slowly … and mostly on the coasts.

The studies are undeniable, but the meat industry is strong and lobbies hard. Government and animal agriculture are so closely tied; you really need to be your own advocate and educate yourself. The USDA is not going to tell you not to drink milk when the milk industry keeps them so close and so well-funded.

My advice to anyone starting a plant-based diet is to ease into it. Start with “Meatless Monday” and add more fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole complex grains to your diet. Experiment with veggie recipes.

If you have kids, keep giving them a variety and be relentless about them trying new things. Serve them over and over prepared in different ways. Sometimes simple and raw are best. Sometimes cooked draws them in. Don’t give up, because you know you are making a difference in so many ways.

Habits that form when we are young often carry out through adulthood. Who knows, they may even thank you for the lentil soup you sent with them to school and for the quinoa/black bean burger you served for dinner. That happened to me yesterday, and I walked away and did a little happy dance as we moms do when we know our kids are eating well and thriving.

 

To read more about Christine Roth’s plant-based diet, you can visit her blog at www.PlantBasedLuv.com.

 

 

 

ON THE MENU

Here are couple recipes from  Christine’s kitchen:

Chocolate Sports Shake

Serves 1

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 ripe frozen banana
  • 1½ teaspoon maca powder
  • 1 scoop Sunwarrior or Vega vanilla
  • (or chocolate protein powder if you want it VERY chocolatey)
  • 1 tablespoon whole flax seeds (or more
  • if desired)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons cacao nibs
  • ½ cup water and a few ice cubes
  • 6 mint leaves (optional)

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Drink for pre-exercise energy or for post-workout recovery.

Favorite Kale Salad

  • small package cherry tomatoes
  • 1 to 1½ bunches kale (such as elephant kale)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • smokehouse almonds (from whole foods
  • bins), chopped small
  • ½ avocado (optional)

Low-Oil Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2–3 drops organic liquid stevia
  • 4 tablespoons orange juice
  • pinch of salt and pepper

Roast tomatoes on a sheet sprayed with oil at 400º for about 20 minutes or until very soft but still holding together. Take out of oven and let sit to cool. Meanwhile de-stem kale (grab the stem and pull down on the leaf), then cut into ribbons. Massage kale with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of olive oil until it wilts and becomes a good texture for eating, about 3-4 minutes. Whisk together dressing ingredients and dress salad, massaging a bit more if needed. Add almonds, tomatoes and avocado.

 

 

 

To read more about Christine Roth’s plant-based diet, you can visit her blog at www.PlantBasedLuv.com.

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