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Power your life with plants for optimal health. That's what Sharon Palmer, R.D., encourages you to do in "The Plant-Powered Diet: The Lifelong Eating Plan for Achieving Optimal Health, Beginning Today" (The Experiment, 2012).

Palmer, a registered dietitian and food and nutrition journalist, starts by highlighting the many benefits of a plant-based diet. These include living longer, weighing less, having a healthy heart, protection from cancer, diabetes, and neurological diseases; a healthier immune system, and helping the planet, among other things.

But then she takes you on a journey through every plant food group, from protein-rich plants to grains, fruits, vegetables and plant-based fats. You'll learn the nutrients each food group provides, as well as the unique health benefits they offer. Plus, each chapter includes an in-depth discussion of a few of the group's nutritional superstars - such as berries and mushrooms - as well as a guide that shows the recommended serving size of foods, and tips on how to incorporate them into your diet.

Palmer does more than explain the "why" of following a plant-based diet, she also explains the "how." As you shift from an animal-based diet to one that's more plant-based, you are guided every step of the way.

Palmer takes you to the grocery store and explores your cupboards and refrigerator to ensure your kitchen is well-stocked for a plant-based life.

Unsure of what to look for at the farmers' market or what to order when you eat out? Not anymore; you'll have tips to help you through those situations at the end of each chapter. These include ideas such as, "Buy three new vegetables that you normally don't purchase and put them on the menu within the next two days," or "Try substituting a whole plant fat, such as nut butter or mashed avocado, in place of refined oils in a favorite recipe today."

With the understanding that exercise and healthy eating go hand-in-hand to create a healthier life, an entire chapter is devoted to increasing physical activity. Examples of light, moderate, and vigorous activity are described, as well as the importance of muscle strengthening. You'll also find tips for adding more activity into your day.

But it doesn't end there. The book includes 75 delicious recipes for plant-based appetizers, salads, entrees, breakfasts, desserts - yes desserts - and more. Palmer then goes a step further by including a full two weeks of menus that incorporate those recipes and other easy-to-prepare items into your diet. If you're thinking of cutting out - or simply cutting back - on animal-based protein, "The Plant-Powered Diet" is the right book to help you along the way.