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February 03, 2020

Considering a plant-based diet? Here's what to add to your grocery list

You don't have to be a vegetarian or vegan to incorporate more veggies into your meals

Healthy Eating Nutrition
Plant-based Diet Louis Hansel/

Plant-based diets are for more than vegans and vegetarians. Incorporating more plants into your diet can aid in weight loss and reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.

With the New Year comes new food trends and products hitting supermarkets shelves. According to Neilson ratings, American believe eating healthy is 55% easier than exercising regularly. I have to wonder then why one in three adults—and one in six children—are considered obese in the United States. Americans really want to eat healthy but it’s easier said than done.

Enter the plant-based lifestyle. Plant-based eating focuses on fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains and beans. You don’t have to be a vegetarian or vegan, you simply commit to adding more of these plant-based foods to each meal.

Studies have shown that a plant-based diet can aid in weight loss and weight loss maintenance, as well as reducing your risk of developing heart disease, certain cancers, cognitive decline and diabetes.

As plant-based diets continue to grow in popularity, so have products in supermarkets. Read on for my picks on what to add to next week’s grocery list.


Veggie and bean-based pastas are now sharing the shelves with regular flour and wheat pastas. The difference? These products are made with naturally nutrient-dense ingredients like cauliflower, chickpeas, kale, edamame, black beans and sweet potato. 

Bean-based pasta has twice the amount of protein and four times the fiber than regular pasta and is naturally gluten free. Just make sure you read the ingredients on the package and look for the bean or vegetable as the first ingredient. Many of these products actually contain the powered vegetables, which means you’re getting very little nutritional benefit.

If you’re eating lentil, chick pea or another bean-based pasta, you still need to watch serving sizes if you’re trying to lose weight. A two-ounce serving (or ¼ cup) of chickpea pasta is about 190 calories, while regular pasta is about 200 calories. The high fiber and protein content should keep you feeling fuller for later. If the texture of bean-based pastas aren’t your cup of tea, try mixing it with regular pasta or just add vegetables to your regular pasta serving. 


Green and yellow peas are a protein powerhouse and are being used in a variety of different food items. Pea protein powder or pea protein isolate is naturally vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free and allergy-free. During the process of producing pea protein, most of the fiber and starch of the peas are removed, making it easy on your gut (easy to digest). 


Emily Rubin, R.D.

There are a variety of ways to incorporate pea protein into your diet. The most obvious is adding it into your pre- or post-workout smoothie. It has the same amount of high-quality essential amino acids and protein as whey protein. Another added benefit is that it is high in iron, which promotes heart health.

You might also see pea protein, dairy-free milk alternatives sharing the shelf with almond milk, and added to chips and crackers to increase their protein content. 


You read that right. I’m saving the best for last. Dessert hummus comes in variety of flavors like chocolate, cake batter and peanut butter. It’s a lot like regular hummus in that it’s made with chickpeas, but it also contains ingredients like cocoa powder, vanilla and sugar. 

I have brought dessert hummus to parties and asked people what they thought they were eating—many have no clue that it’s hummus! I recommend serving it with fresh fruit or whole-grain pretzels, or even using it as frosting for cupcakes. It’s the perfect mix of fiber, protein and sugar. Just be sure to check those ingredient labels as some brands contain more sugar than others.


(Gluten-free, antioxidant-rich, high-fiber, high-protein salad)

Servings: 8


• 8 oz. dry edamame pasta

• 8 oz. dry chickpea or lentil pasta

• 1 cup sliced black olives

• 1 cup chickpeas

• 1 12 oz. package – mixed frozen broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and red cabbage

• 16 oz. light Italian dressing

• 16 oz. balsamic vinaigrette

• 1 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)

• 2 cups feta cheese + ½ cup for garnish (optional)


1. Cook pasta according to the package directions.

2. In a large bowl, mix pasta, veggies, cabbage, olives and cheeses.

3. Mix dressings in a small bowl, pour over salad and stir until well combined.

4. Spring ½ cup feta cheese on top.

5. Cover and refrigerate for four hours or until ready to serve.

Emily Rubin, R.D., has been a registered dietitian with Thomas Jefferson’s division of gastroenterology and hepatology for 18 years. She is the dietitian for its celiac center, Fatty Liver Center and Weight Management Center. She is also the public relations chair for the Philadelphia Dietetic Association. She will be writing occasionally on topics related to nutrition and dieting.


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