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CREATING A BALANCED PLATE

If you’ve followed the blog or @brownpapernutrition on insta for a while you’ll notice the frequency of our nourish bowls. I started creating these years ago as a means to use up leftover bits and pieces in the fridge and make beautiful food without fuss and they took off – mostly for me, but it seems people loved learning from them also.

Many of these nourish bowls have been plant based, so the question I am often asked is how to best incorporate plant based proteins and if not plant proteins then, how much meat?

General guidelines to follow when you create your balanced plate look like this:

  1. Fill half the plate with low starch veggies first : these include leafy greens, carrot, tomatoes, cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower
  2. Add a serve, approximately 1/2-3/4 cup starchy carbohydrates such as sweet potato, pumpkin, beetroot, or wholegrains including buckwheat, brown rice, quinoa (quinoa also contains protein so this contributes to your intake of protein if you are building a plant based plate) or teff.
  3. Add protein: for meat eaters the best guide is the palm of your hand. For red meat, use palm size and thickness, for chicken and fish use palm and three fingers length and same thickness. For vegetarians aim to build together plant proteins that equal a full handful (about a cup or so). These plant proteins can include beans/legumes such as mung, chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans. Ingredients such as quinoa and teff add protein to this also. Consider adding smaller quantities of chia, hemp, nuts and seeds to improve the amino acid status (building blocks for proteins) in your meal.
  4. Finish with fats: a serve of approx 2-3 tablespoons of healthy fats such as olive oil, coconut oil, full fat cheese (low fat cheese is not the answer) is ideal if there is meat on your plate, for vegetarians/vegans a slightly higher intake of nourishing fats is often important to sate appetite  which is when you might see 1/3-1/2 small avocado!

Now a nutrition challenge for you to consider in the following weeks which may well show you just how over portioned so many of our foods are…

When next you pick up some fish, steak, chicken to cook, look at the way the butcher has cut the portioned piece as a ‘serving size’ then compare it to the reference of your palm as mentioned above. Most of the time you’ll find the serve is huge by comparison.

We simply do not need to eat that much.

It’s too much for our bodies to digest in one hit and it’s one of the reasons (the list is too exhaustive to feature here…) that Australian’s are increasingly overweight.

Pare back the large portions of protein (you can cook and save the rest for lunch tomorrow if that works well too!) and increase your intake of low starch veggies instead.

Good challenge? Go for it…

Jacqueline Alwill

Jacqueline Alwill, is an accredited nutritionist, author, founder of Brown Paper Nutrition and recently launched vegetarian meal delivery service Brown Paper Eats She is passionately committed to improving the health and wellbeing of individuals and families. Jacqueline is mum to her 8 year old boy - Jet.

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