What is Plant Forward Eating?

Plant forward is a new-er term coined to help you eat more produce and I want to make it easier. Learn the health benefits of following a plant forward diet with dietitian approved recipes and practical ways to create delicious and easy meals at home with ease!

Colorful grain salads and spicy salmon avocado bowls, pizza with or without vegan cheese and creative curries with lentils… these are all part of a plant-forward diet.

Definition

The Culinary Institute of America and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health defines plant-forward as a style of cooking and eating that emphasizes and celebrates, but is not limited to plant-based foods. The diet also includes principles to support health and sustainability. Source: Menus of Change

This way of eating includes

It’s plant-centric and inclusive. It’s thinking about how you can build a meal or menu around plants versus centering meat.

Plant-forward is about the way you cook and less about following a specific, regimented diet and adopting a label such as vegan, vegetarian, lacto-ovo vegetarian, or pescatarian.

Plant-Forward versus Plant-Based

Vegan means 100% plant-based. Meals and snacks don’t include any animal-derived foods. The diet excludes fish, poultry, meat, eggs, dairy, honey and any foods made with animal byproducts.

Plant-based can mean 100% vegan or it can mean made with plants. So, there is no official definition and you’ll need to take care to check for ingredients or that the food is 100% plant based or vegan.

Plant-forward doesn’t have either restriction or distinction. Plant forward puts produce on a pedestal. It means prioritizing fruits and vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts, seeds for better health and sustainability.

It may help to think of plant-forward eating as a semi-vegetarian diet. It’s very similar to the “flexitarian” term you might be more familiar with but with a focus on the overarching idea

Plant Forward Benefits

Research suggests that even semi-vegetarian diets may help improve blood pressure and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. And evidence continues to mount in support of following a more plant-based diet. Benefits include:

  • Lower risk for metabolic syndrome
  • Supports heart health
  • Better gut health
  • Lower risk for certain types of cancers
  • Longer life expectancy
  • Good for the environment

Even if you don’t eliminate meat and seafood entirely, it still makes a difference.

The Plant Love Kitchen

Shifting Mindset

Deciding to adopt a plant forward way of eating lets you drop the all-or-nothing mindset to embrace flexibility. It means eating mostly plants on most days and not batting an eye when your family serves up a traditional meal that includes meat. I’m thinking about a classic gumbo, collard greens or a pot of beans seasoned with meat, or Fish Fridays with the family!

Plant Forward Recipes

My Easy Black Bean & Rice Skillet is a fave. It’s packed with plant protein plus veggies like peppers, onion and tomato. It’s also easy to make vegan – swap for a vegan cheddar or simply leave the cheese out!

Roasted Broccoli & Walnut Pasta is one of my go-to recipes for busy weeknights. With the hearty crunch and dose of healthy fats, the walnuts really take the pasta up a notch. It’s ready in the time it takes to roast a pan of broccoli while simultaneously boiling pasta.

Give the recipe an extra boost of protein with chickpea pasta or other legume pasta. This one is mostly vegan. But if parmesan is not your thing, try nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan for a similar flavor.

Roasted Broccoli and Walnut Pasta in a Bowl

If you’re in the mood for an easy, plant-foward fish meal, load up the sheet pan for this Maple Miso Salmon & Broccoli. This quick and easy meal is packed with flavor and you can add as many veggies as you’d like. Swap in cauliflower, use green beans or any combination of these for a veggie and protein packed meal that’s ready in about 20 minutes (assuming your salmon is already fileted).

With eggs as the base, this Chard, Mushroom & Goat Cheese Frittata is a satisfying meal for breakfast, lunch or a light dinner. You can use Just Egg or another vegan liquid egg product in even amounts and swap in a soft vegan cheese or omit the cheese to make this recipe 100% plant based.

My Freezer-Friendly Spinach and Egg Breakfast Sandwiches and Hashbrown Casserole are other recipes that squeeze in veggies at breakfast.

Those are just a few recipes to get your started and there are plenty more throughout the blog.

My new cookbook goes in-depth. You can get a copy of The Plant Love Kitchen at major booksellers and here’s a little about it.

Picture of The Plant Love Kitchen book with vegetables and text reading

Cookbook

NatGeo approached me to write The Plant Forward Kitchen because I already had a bunch of plant-forward recipes available on the blog and Instagram. The recipes are flexible and filling. Like in the book, I provide vegan ingredient alternatives where possible so do what works best for you and your family.

The cookbook provides balanced, registered dietitian approved recipe ideas, shopping lists and more.

A few of my favorites in the book include Fully Loaded Breakfast Cookies, Sheet Pan Fajitas, Lentil Stuffed Peppers, and the Cherry Almond Crisp. Hope you get to try some of these for yourself.

Cheers to adding more plants to the plate with ease!