How Dairy Fits in a Plant-Forward Diet
Thinking about serving more meals where plant foods are the star?
Whether it’s just an occasional meal or a lifestyle change, dairy can still be part of this plant-forward approach to eating.
Adopting a vegetarian diet that includes dairy gives you the power of plant-based foods plus the benefits of enjoying delicious dairy foods that provide 13 essential nutrients.
Protein coming from dairy foods is complete, meaning that it provides the appropriate balance of amino acids (building blocks) that your body needs for healthy muscles, skin, bones and organs. Many plant-based protein sources miss some of the essential amino acids and must be balanced with other foods.
When eating dairy foods, it’s easy to consume adequate calcium (needed for bones and teeth) from normal size servings. However, to get enough calcium from plant-based foods alone, you need to eat huge quantities. Although non-dairy foods may be fortified with calcium, they may not contain other essential nutrients like vitamin D, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin B12 and riboflavin that are naturally present in dairy foods.
If you’re thinking about a plant-forward plus dairy diet, consider starting with Lentil Tacos with Tangy Guacamole. Topped with cheese and guacamole, these tacos look and taste like much-loved, familiar recipes.
Another surefire family recipe is Black Bean-Pepper Jack Burgers. These healthy and hearty burgers are loaded with black beans, cheese and corn. Better yet, they’re flavor powerhouses! Before long, you’ll have to start doubling the recipe to have enough for the hungry after-school/after-practice gang.
For those days that you crave a creamy pasta sauce, but want to avoid lots of saturated fat, try Garlicky Greek Yogurt Pasta with Sauteed Lentils and Chickpeas. The amazing creamy pasta sauce is made with garlic, Greek yogurt, milk, lemon peel and seasonings. Garlic-sautéed lentils and chickpeas add more protein, while fresh mint and red pepper flakes contribute pizzazz.
Coming in their own, little edible bowls, Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers feature brown rice, corn, black beans, tomatoes and cheddar cheese. They’re traditional in form, but the flavors and textures entice even fussy eaters.
Fare of the ancient Incas, quinoa adds a boost of protein and a satisfying heartiness to Quinoa Salad with Marinated Cheese. The additions of abundant vegetables, feta cheese and tangy fennel dressing equals a revitalizing dinner.
These recipes will get you off to a good start. Browse the plant-based recipes on our website. You’ll find many more ideas for your plant-based plus dairy menus.