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Posted on March 6, 2019
Hello! My name is Alexandra Caspero, and I’m a registered dietitian nutritionist, owner of Delish Knowledge and co-founder of Plant-Based Juniors. I started my blog, Delish Knowledge, a decade ago as a way to make vegetarian eating simply delicious. I believe that we all can benefit from eating more vegetables, so I wanted to share easy, do-able recipes that highlighted plant-foods!
I became a mom in 2017 to my beautiful son, and I realized that even though I knew a lot about plant-based nutrition, there was a lot that I didn’t know about raising my son that way. Infant and toddler nutrition needs are much different than adults, so I scoured the research to make sure that I was raising him in the best possible way.
In doing this, I found that world of raising plant-based children is filled with contradicting viewpoints and lots of misinformation. I figured that if I struggled separating fact from fiction, other moms would too. And so, I teamed up with fellow dietitian Whitney E. RD to create Plant-Based Juniors. Our mission is to provide evidence-based information to anyone who wants to raise healthy, conscious kids.
I first made the decision to go vegetarian in high school, though that phase came and went throughout college. This was back in the late 1990’s, early 2000’s and I didn’t have the support, resources or education to stick with it full time. After a tough breakup in 2007, I decided to stop eating meat once and for all in an effort to help heal myself and get back in touch with my values. These days, I consider myself to be predominantly plant-based. That means I eat a vegan, plant-based diet most of the time with allowance for occasional dairy, eggs and sometimes fish when I crave it.
Nothing makes me happier than walking into a grocery store and seeing all of the many plant-based items. I get almost giddy to see the plant-based milk section overtaking the dairy milk in the refrigerator case. I remember begging my local grocery store in 2001 to carry soy milk, and they declined, saying there wasn’t a market for it. Flash forward almost 20 years, and it’s refreshing to see so many options available.
Even though I’m a dietitian, I don’t believe in counting calories or, most fad-diets. I have no desire to eat “clean”, “perfect” or labeling foods “good” or “bad.” I believe in eating delicious, nourishing foods and allowing intuition to help drive hunger levels, fullness cues and desires.
In my previous dietitian life, I worked with eating disorders and have seen too many times the destruction that can come from obsessing over food and letting food overtake your life. I don’t want that for anyone, and I think that a focus on eating perfect can send unwanted messages and have the wrong intention. It’s why on my Instagram page, I like to show that, yes, I do eat dessert and drink wine, and I don’t feel guilty about it. A healthy diet can absolutely include chocolate, processed foods and sugar. Sometimes the guilt and stress around eating these foods is more damaging than the actual food.
I also believe that we’re all doing the best we can. My job is to encourage all of us to eat more plants, regardless of what’s on the rest of the plate. The Center for Disease Control estimates that only one in 10 Americans eats the recommended amount and fruits and vegetables; just changing that one thing could have incredible payoffs. Seven of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States are from chronic diseases. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables daily can help reduce the risk of many leading causes of illness and death, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and obesity. Here’s the kicker: if half of all Americans added one more daily serving of fruits and vegetables, 20,000 cancer cases could be prevented annually.
Don’t make perfect the enemy of the good. The “enough” competition can be frustrating, especially to those who are plant-curious. I think we do the plant-based community a disservice when we judge others or have standards that you must meet to be “healthy enough,” “vegan enough,” “clean enough,” and others. When I first started on this journey, I didn’t know anyone else who was eating like I was, and I’m so thankful that the internet and social media have made it easier to find like-minded individuals who can share recipes, nutrition, restaurant recommendations, grocery store tips and more.
The Ultimate Vegan Sandwich is my go-to sandwich for lunch and busy weeknights. It’s easily customizable depending on what vegetables you have on hand. For extra protein, I sometimes add tempeh bacon or a slice of fried tofu.
Sourdough toast, toasted
Daiya Plain Cream Cheeze Style Spread
Everything Bagel seasoning, optional
Cooked tempeh bacon or cooked tofu, optional
Toast the bread and spread the plain cream cheeze liberally on both sides. Sprinkle with Everything Bagel seasoning.
Layer on the vegetables and tempeh/tofu as desired and cover with the other slice of bread. Slice in half and serve!
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