My Plant-Based Dinner Plate

Post by Diane Danchi, R.D., L.D.N. Diane is a registered dietitian at Rex Wellness Centers of Cary.

As I finished prep for dinner one evening, I looked over the fruit of my loving labors (and I DO love to cook) and suddenly thought, “Wow, this is a great example of eating via “The Plate Method!” I perused the colors, textures, flavors, then noted the plant-based foods and decided this beautiful and yummy meal needed to be shared with others.

The take home message from the government’s new “Choose My Plate” is much easier to understand than the old Pyramid, and I do love the information available at the website: However, as a professional, I do like an older tool, “The Plate Method” a little better. The main difference is that half the plate is low calorie veggies, ¼ is healthy protein and ¼ is healthy starch, then fruit and dairy are on the side. Making half your plate low cal veggies packs in: 1.fiber and water to fill you up (zero calories for both, plus fiber makes the meal digest more slowly and last longer); 2. vitamins and minerals; 3. phytonutrients to help protect again chronic disease; and 4. a great balance of carbohydrate, fat, and protein. This plate is a great way to eat mindfully using a plant-based diet which research tells us is the best for health and longevity. We make a great effort to eat this way in our home. It isn’t difficult and can be less expensive since you buy smaller amounts of meat. We do like to spend some on healthy fish, though, and are working to expand our repertoire of fish recipes.

So, what did we have that night???? White Beans with Roasted Tomatoes and Onions, Oven-Roasted Cabbage, a veggie-packed salad with frozen pre-cooked turkey breast cubes and a light dressing as well as some 100% whole wheat bread. It was a delicious plant-based meal, pretty easy prep, and the left-over beans and cabbage keep well for several days. Enjoy the recipes!

White Beans With Roasted Tomatoes

2 cans of cannellini beans
1 large Vidalia or other sweet onion, cut in wedges
2 lbs large tomatoes, cored and halved crosswise
1 lb cherry tomatoes (preferably mixed colors – about 4 cups
½ – 1 tsp salt (optional)
1 tsp sugar
¼ – 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup torn basil leaves

Heat oven to 450°. Toss tomato halves, onions and cherry tomatoes with olive oil, salt and sugar in a shallow 3 – 4 quart baking dish; arrange tomato halves cut sides up. Roast, uncovered, until large tomatoes are very tender with brown patches and cherry tomatoes are falling apart, 30 – 45 min.

Warm beans gently in microwave or stove-top in liquid from the can. Drain and transfer to serving bowl. Arrange tomatoes decoratively on top of beans and pour tomato juices on top. Sprinkle with basil leaves.

Oven Roasted Cabbage

½ head of green cabbage
1-2 T extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt (optional)

Pr-heat oven the 350°. Chop or shred cabbage as you would for cole slaw. Line a shallow baking pan with foil. Spread cabbage evenly in the pan. Drizzle with olive oil; sprinkle light with sea salt if desired. Mix well. Roast uncovered for 15 – 20 minutes until cabbage is tender and starts to brown a little.