There are many health benefits to adopting a vegetarian diet.
Decreasing red meat consumption and focusing on plant-forward foods can help decrease the risk for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and certain cancers.
Though there are plenty of benefits in lean animal proteins such as chicken, fish and eggs, including plant-based proteins offer benefits associated with their phytochemicals, antioxidants and fiber.
- Fiber can help stabilize blood sugar in Type 2 diabetes, lower cholesterol, and promote a healthy gut to prevent stomach-associated cancers.
- Phytochemicals and antioxidants in fruits and vegetables can help destroy reactive oxygen species, harmful chemicals that can harm cells and increase risk for cancer, before they can do damage.
Not only are plant-based proteins kind to the body, but they are also kinder to the planet than animal protein. About a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions come from food, and the majority of those are from animal protein such as beef and lamb.
Food waste also accounts for a large amount of greenhouse gas emission, but there are steps we can take at home to prevent it. One of the best ways to do this is to not overstock your fridge with foods that can go bad before using them and freezing items before they go bad.
Chickpeas are a great shelf-stable, plant-based protein that serve up delicious curries, soups and hummus. Stay tuned for how we use the leftover chickpea water, also called aquafaba, to whip up a chocolate mousse treat below.
Melt chocolate in a bowl on top of a pot of water set to medium-high. Make sure that the water does not touch the bowl of chocolate. The steam from the water will gently heat the chocolate so it doesn’t crumble.
Let chocolate cool while you whip the aquafaba.
Pour the chickpea water in a non-greasy bowl, add lemon juice and whip until it forms stiff peaks. Depending on the power of your mixer, it can take up to 10 minutes. Don’t worry, you cannot overwhip aquafaba.
Gently fold cooled chocolate in with the aquafaba, be careful not to overmix so that it maintains the porous texture. It will decrease in size when folding it in.
Pour in serving glasses and let cool in the fridge for about 4 hours.
Serve with pistachios and strawberries, or whatever topping you’d like.
About the author: Shanthi Appelö is a registered dietitian and health and wellness spokesperson for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Passionate about the science of nutrition and behavior, Shanthi has experience working in clinical nutrition, public health and teaching in the university setting. In her free time, she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, exploring the outdoors, working on art and spending time with family.
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Photo credit: Shanthi Appelö