Meatless Mondays are one of the best opportunities to rethink about the food you eat, not just for the environment and lives of animals everywhere, but also for your health. Every time you choose a meatless (or even better, an animal-free) meal, and replace that meal with a whole food, plant-based option, you’re choosing to eat healthier, plain and simple. All plant-based foods provide the body with vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants straight from the earth, so there’s no need to go through the animal to get these nutrients. If they obtain their fiber, vitamins and minerals, from the earth, then so can we.
The Best Types of Food for Your Blood Sugar
But choosing vegan processed foods won’t get you very far in terms of being healthy. Sure, these items are a step in the right direction to eat less animal products, but they’re not going to improve your health like whole, simple plant-based foods will. They’re also not the best for your blood sugar, weight, and most of the time, your budget (since most are much more costly per serving). The key to obtaining a healthy body, especially where blood sugar and hormone stabilization is involved, is to choose foods that break down slowly and are rich in fiber to sustain your body longer and slow down the release of insulin. When we eat, our body sends out insulin to our cells to use the sugars from our food as a source for fuel, however, when it uses quick sugars like added sugars and refined grains, or we eat processed fats, insulin doesn’t do its job as effectively and it puts a strain on our bodies, especially our blood sugar levels. This is known as the ‘crash and burn’ effect, or what you might experience from eating a less-than-healthy meal that leaves you more tired than you were before you ate, or dramatically hungry, despite just eating a whole meal.
Why Animal Foods Aren’t Helpful for Your Blood Sugar
Animal foods also raise blood sugar levels, despite the myth that they lower blood sugar. They stimulate the release of insulin and contain no fiber to slow down that release. They’re also inflammatory to the body and red meat is one of the worst foods diabetics can choose, according to American Diabetes Association. Even dairy is full of milk sugar, and contains no fiber to slow down the release of those sugars into the cells.
So when basing your meals to benefit your blood sugar, it’s smart to choose whole, plant-based foods. All plant-based foods have fiber, not to mention essential vitamins and minerals that your body knows what to do with to provide you with energy, balance, and optimal health. They also stabilize your blood sugar and have been shown to actually improve not just blood sugar, but also the chances of developing diabetes and other major forms of disease, or at least improve symptoms dramatically.
Blood Sugar Friendly Meal Ideas to Try for Better Health
Below are some excellent meal choices to enjoy on a day where we inspire those that aren’t 100 percent plant-based to go meatless more often, without a bit of sacrifice. These meal choices will leave your body full, happy, yet also feeling light and energized at the same time. Experience the difference of going plant-based. You’re going to love this incredible lifestyle not to mention that for every time you eat a plant-based meal, you’re choosing life over suffering, one meal at a time.
Veggie Quinoa Salad
Providing vitamins, minerals, all essential amino acids and a large amount of protein, fiber, and an incredible flavor, this salad has it all! Though quinoa is a carb, it’s important to remember that carbs are not the enemy for diabetes. In fact, your body needs whole food-based sources of carbohydrates that are low on the glycemic index (such as non-starchy veggies, oats, bran, quinoa, sweet potatoes, carrots, lentils, green beans, leafy greens). The kind you want to avoid are the refined options like white rice, breads, and most anything processed that’s high in refined starch (cereals, crackers, etc.). Always choose whole-food based sources such as 100 percent whole grains that have the fiber, protein, and minerals like magnesium that benefit your blood sugar, all still in tact.
The Hearty Vegan Cobb
If you’re a former (or current, even) cheese addict, then you likely loved the cobb salad. Even without the bacon and ham on the typical cobb, it’s still chock full of artery-clogging saturated fats and dairy proteins that hurt your health, especially your blood sugar and heart. But you don’t have to live without your beloved cobb, and there’s absolutely no need for any alternative cheese products if you don’t like them. Make our Hearty Vegan Cobb instead, which is so filling and satisfying, you won’t believe it’s actually called a salad! Plus, this one has a Mexican type flavor thanks to the black beans and spices used throughout the recipe.
Best Quinoa Veggie Burgers and Pumpkin Seed Onion Cream
Want a burger? Hey, we don’t blame you, but let’s leave the meat out and go for some more filling factors instead that will actually benefit your body, what do you say? Here we have a veggie burger that will change the way you think about ‘vegan meat’. No alternative meat products are used here. We’re talking easy, whole food, plant-based goodness. These burgers have a rich, filling factor and also a delightfully creamy, hearty texture. Give them a try and don’t forget the pumpkin seeds! They’re amazing for your blood sugar and are a great source of protein.
Falafel Hummus Collard Wraps
Hummus is a fantastic source of protein, and its fiber will help to keep you full longer than any typical sandwich spread will, such as mayo. Hummus is also a good source of B vitamins and magnesium, which both benefit your energy and your mood. In our Hummus Collard Wraps, you’ll find an alternative to breads that’s fantastic for your blood sugar levels. Collards, surprisingly, make great wraps. They give the dish a hearty feel and also add plenty of chlorophyll to alkalize the body and stabilize blood sugar levels further. Give them a try and stuff as many veggies inside as you can fit!
This oatmeal recipe takes a step above others because it has no dried fruit (which some people with sensitive blood sugars might not tolerate very well) and it also has turmeric, which gives it its orange hue. Turmeric is an amazing spice for your blood sugar because it actually contains antioxidants that protect the blood and major organs including the brain, and has even been shown to aid in digestion. Ayurvedic oatmeal also has a delightfully creamy and sweet flavor, without any sugar at all. Featuring pumpkin seeds and creamy non-dairy milk, it’s an amazing recipe to enjoy at breakfast. Oh, and don’t worry about those oats- they’re some of the healthiest grains to choose for being high in protein, low in overall starch, and great at keeping your blood sugar stable a long time. They’ve even been shown to reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Roasted Vegetable Frittata
Featuring nature’s vitamins (vegetables), this frittata is made with the high fiber chickpea flour, which is one of the sneakiest and smartest replacements for eggs! Chickpea flour is inexpensive, and has an eggy, nutty, and almost sweet flavor when cooked. It’s especially easy to turn into omelets, or frittatas such as this one, as a less expensive, kinder, and much healthier, alternative to eggs. Despite that eggs are seen as healthy, they contain natural bacteria such as salmonella, and chickens that live on egg-producing farms are treated horribly, despite being labeled certified humane. Plus, taking in excess dietary cholesterol from animals just isn’t a smart health choice, no matter what health hype you hear out there about eggs. Your body produces enough cholesterol on its own, especially if you’re eating a well-rounded diet with natural, plant-based fats.
Raw Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Let’s not forget dessert! Featuring absolutely no sugar whatsoever, this recipe is full of 100 percent whole foods, especially beneficial fats and plenty of fiber. Almonds and coconut are superstars for your blood sugar because they both contain fiber, not to mention plentiful amounts of amino acids (protein), and B vitamins. A star ingredient here is pure, raw cacao (not sugary chocolate), which is also amazing for your blood sugar since it contains high amounts of fiber, plentiful amounts of iron and magnesium, plus amino acids and protein to boot without a drop of sugar. These cookies even feature tahini that is packed with calcium, iron, and magnesium to benefit the nervous system further. Truly, these cookies will give you a pep in your step, without the sugar crash that comes with most cookies filled with sugar and refined ingredients.
We encourage you to go meatless this week, and if you have any meal ideas that inspire you to eat meatless in an easier, more doable way, we’d love to hear them! Remember, health and compassion can be chosen one little bite at a time!
Lead Image Source: Bradley Brown/Flickr