Think Outside the Salad Bowl — Reap the Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet
February 07, 2020
Submitted by The Village at Ocotillo – An SRG Senior Living Community
At The Village at Ocotillo, a luxury senior living community located in Chandler, Arizona, residents can savor the flavors of fresh, healthy food choices year-round. Under the leadership of Executive Chef Carrie Hoffman, The Village at Ocotillo provides meals that are not only delicious but nutritious. The community’s recently launched Fresh Zest initiative also encourages a plant-based, whole-foods diet that has been shown to offer a wealth of health benefits, particularly in older adults, and may even reverse some chronic ailments.
“Often, people incorrectly believe that a plant-based diet is intimidating or restrictive,” explained Chef Hoffman. “That’s simply not true. It’s about making healthier choices like replacing white rice with brown rice or quinoa; opting for whole-grain bread instead of white bread; or choosing water instead of sugary drinks.”
The health benefits of a plant-based lifestyle cannot be underestimated. A Brazilian study concluded people with a diet rich in plant-based protein were 60 percent less likely to develop a buildup of plaque in their heart’s arteries than their peers. A study in the Netherlands found those who ate a high ration of plant-derived protein (as opposed to animal-derived protein) had a lower risk for developing coronary heart disease later in life.
“You don’t have to be a vegetarian or vegan to reap the health benefits of a plant-based diet,” advised Chef Hoffman. “At The Village at Ocotillo, the focus of Fresh Zest is to make healthier options available and offer an opportunity to eat more of the right plants lessening the intake of unhealthy foods and animal products.”
Chef Hoffman recommends thinking outside the salad bowl – beyond lettuce, carrots and tomatoes. The active retirement community’s signature Fresh Zest entrees include Artichoke with Cremini Mushroom and Eggplant Cannelloni, Crispy Bean Chimichanga, Potato and Spinach Gnocchi, Pad Thai Spaghetti Squash and balsamic roasted
Portobello Mushroom Primavera.
Chef Hoffman also suggests people consider putting a healthier twist on comfort foods, which are often laden with high calories and saturated fats.
Craving a hamburger? Try a Portobello Mushroom Burger. In the mood for pasta? Consider a Sweet Potato Lasagna.
“You truly aren’t compromising taste with a plant-based diet,” said Chef Hoffman. “Though leafy vegetables are an important part of Fresh Zest, they are not a sustainable calorie or energy source. Our Fresh Zest menu features potatoes, corn and peas; whole grains like brown rice, millet, quinoa, and buckwheat; and legumes like chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, and lima beans.”
For those wanting to adopt a healthier lifestyle through a plant-based diet, Chef Hoffman believes it is best to gradually incorporate vegetarian options into daily meals.
“Research shows that even a moderate change in your diet, such as lowering your animal food intake by one to two servings per day and replacing it with legumes or nuts as your protein source, can have a lasting positive impact on your health,” she said. “Be adventurous and sample a variety of foods before throwing in the towel.”
Located at 990 West Ocotillo Road in Chandler, Arizona, The Village at Ocotillo is a luxurious retirement community that offers spacious one-and two-bedroom residences in Independent and Assisted Living. Residents enjoy weekly housekeeping and flat linen services, basic cable TV, all utilities except telephone, and a complimentary full breakfast plus choice of lunch or dinner in the community’s gourmet-style restaurant. For more information about the community, please call 480.400.8432 or visit TheVillageatOcotillo.com.
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