Power to the plants!

Physicians and caregivers across Kaiser Permanente are looking into the health benefits of diets based on plants. Generally, this means following the advice of the writer Michael Pollan, who has offered this guidance: “Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

In fact, a group of Kaiser Permanente physicians, led by William Wong, MD, meets regularly to discuss the connection between diet and health. Adding more unprocessed, plant-based foods to your diet can improve health in a number of ways. It can: reduce your weight, lower your cardiovascular risk factors, reverse your heart disease and diabetes, and lower your cancer risk.

A number of Kaiser Permanente medical centers host 21-day Plant-Strong Challenges. Physicians and employees alike are challenged to consume a whole-foods plant-based diet for 21 days straight. This means eating only foods that come from plants, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes (beans, lentils and peas) with little-to-no processing. The goal of the challenge is to introduce people to a (likely) new way of eating that is delicious, healthful in multiple ways, and good for the planet. Create your own plant-strong challenge!

One easy way to enhance your vegetables, salads, beans, and grain dishes is to keep a tasty homemade vinaigrette or sauce in the refrigerator. Here are some suggestions:

Among other dishes, this new lemon vinaigrette tastes great on seasonal asparagus or tabbouleh salad!

Servings: 10 (1 tablespoon per serving)

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots or red onion
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. In a mason jar or bowl, combine the minced shallots or red onion and lemon juice. Let sit for a few minutes.
  2. In the meantime, peel the garlic and mash it into a paste on your cutting board. Add to the bowl.
  3. Add the mustard, olive oil, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper.
  4. Shake or whisk the vinaigrette together to emulsify, then taste it on whatever you are eating and adjust the salt and acidity as needed. Remember, as with any vinaigrette, a little goes a long way. The vinaigrette can be refrigerated and used for up to 2 to 3 days.

Nutrition Information (per serving)

  • Calories: 74
  • Total fat: 8 g
  • Saturated fat: 1 g
  • Carbohydrate: 0.6 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Sugar: 0 g
  • Sodium: 122 mg

Contributor

Benjamin Maring, MD