Turn the Plate Around
This may sound radical, but...vegetables are actually NOT a side dish.
When I was growing up, the answer to "What's for dinner, mom?" sounded something like: chicken, london broil, hamburgers, macaroni andcheese, pasta... The main part of the meal was either animal or pasta in my house, and the vegetables took their place in the wings as supporting cast members. I remember eating string beans with breadcrumbs and even sautéed spinach, but they were certainly not the stars of the meal.
If you told me then that I would be a pescatarian with not only a refrigerator, but a spare freezer full of vegetables, I would have said you were crazy. Once I was on my own with full freedom to cook and order my own food, I made animal- and refined carb-based choices. There was lots of pizza, bagels, sandwiches and pasta. If I ordered the veggie slice of pizza, I thought I was some kind of healthy rock star. I was so far from balanced eating, and my physical appearance began to reflect that.
If only I had known then what I know now about acid-alkaline balance, and the value of a plant-BASED diet, not a plants-on-the-side diet, maybe I would have made different choices. At the time, though, I didn't even know what to do with vegetables, other than pizza garnish. Just after college, I visited a friend in Pennsylvania, and while helping her prepare dinner, I got a glimpse of her fridge contents. There were loads of those plastic produce bags stuffed into drawers and on the shelves. I remember thinking, "What does she do with all of that?" My fridge back home looked like a kitchen cabinet for Diet Coke...
So if you are new to making plants the main part of your meal, trust me, I understand where you are coming from. The key, as always, is to add in until you reach your goal.
The Standard American Diet (SAD) is high in nutrient-deficient (processed grains, refined sugars, soda, artificial sweeteners) and acid-forming (animal/dairy, grain, beans, nuts, seeds, coffee/tea, alcohol) foods, and low in nutrient-dense alkaline-forming foods (for more on acid-alkaline balance, see my blog on that topic). A healthy daily balance is about 75-80% alkaline to 20-25% healthy acid-forming foods, and little to no nutrient-deficient foods. This is not difficult to achieve when the majority of what you are eating is real foods, or foods that grow in the ground.
Almost all of my recipes are vegetarian, and all are plant-based, so the "recipes" section of this website, or my cookbook, The Healthy Kitchen 101, are both great places to start adding in a meal that can become part of your kitchen repertoire. These days, the answer to the question, "What's for dinner?" in my house sounds more like: portobello mushrooms, stuffed squash, broccoli rabe or grilled veggies...with a "side" of fish, beans, cheese or grains.
It is easy to get your alkaline-forming foods in when you incorporate two or more of the following into your day:
1. fresh-pressed vegetable juice (see juice page under "recipes)
2. green smoothie (see smoothie page under "recipes)
3. salad (see salad meals under greens in "recipes")
4. homemade soups (see soups under "recipes)
5. cooked greens/plant-based meals (see greens under "recipes)
6. superfood/supergreen powders or supplements such as Vitamineral Green