In early October, I had the pleasure of attending the Livin’ on the Veg Tour hosted by Sprouts Farmers Market at their Dale Mabry location in beautiful South Tampa. Access was easy, and parking was a breeze, especially now that Sprouts expanded their parking lot to accommodate more cars. When I walked in, it’s always like the first time--I am forever blown away and impressed by Sprouts’ selection of colorful produce, the warm, inviting atmosphere, and the friendly, helpful faces of their employees.
Our two-hour-long tour was hosted by Sprouts’ nutrition partner, Abigail Dougherty, and her colleague James. As we wound our way around the store, we not only tasted a variety of delicious, plant-based foods, but we also learned just how easy it really is to incorporate veggies at every meal, including dessert!
Although I’m vegan, what I loved was how inclusive Dougherty remained throughout the tour. She never made it about a particular diet, which helps everyone feel welcome and at ease, no matter their lifestyle.
“Anybody can benefit from using a plant-based diet,” said Dougherty, regardless of whether you eat meat, or not, eat fish and eggs, or not, “just eating more vegetables, it’s going to benefit really anybody.”
What’s great about the tips shared below is that you don’t have to be a vegetarian or a vegan to benefit from a few veggie-based additions to your diet. It’s as simple as swapping or including innovative foods to the things you already consume. That, and they’re easy to locate, because you can find all of these (and more) at your local Sprouts Farmers Market.
Whether you’re into basic breakfast dishes, or prefer to wake up to something a little more decadent, there is actually a very easy way to incorporate more veggies into those meals, and that’s through plant-based milk.
During the Sprouts Farmers Market tour, we learned about and tasted Ripple, a plant-based milk that also provides 8 grams of protein, 50 percent more calcium than milk, and 32 mg DHA Omega-3s. Derived from peas, this dairy-free milk was the best protein-infused brand I’ve tasted to date, and is definitely something I would try again.
Now you can swap cow’s milk for Ripple in your cereal and milk, oatmeal, French toast, biscuits, pancakes, and even omelettes. As if it couldn’t get any better, Ripple comes in chocolate, too, so you can fulfill those cravings for a tall glass of chocolate milk while also feeling good about eating, or in this case, drinking your vegetables.
Lunch can already be difficult to plan and execute for some busy adults, so why not pack an easy meal that's extremely portable, healthy, and delicious? I recommend a veggie-based lunch with dips, as it offers a variety of accompaniment options, loads of vitamins, a ton of flavor, and even protein.
At the Sprouts Farmers Market tour, we sampled and learned about several dips that are ideal for pairing with your veggies. My favorites were the Better Bean Uncanny Refried Bean Dip and the Mango Habanero Almond Dip by Oasis Naturals.
For easy, on-the-go lunches, pre-chop a variety of veggies. Carrots, cucumbers, bell pepper strips, cherry tomatoes, and broccoli make for easy dipping. Pack your favorite pita breads, pretzels, tortillas, crackers, and/or chips (I loved the Multigrain Tortilla Chips by Food Should Taste Good). And slip in one (or all) of your favorite dips for a satisfying and simple plant-based lunch.
Did you know that Sprouts Farmers Market carries a variety of plant-based pastas? They make it easy to swap durum wheat noodles for healthier alternatives, like fettuccine made with spinach, spaghetti made with edamame, and rotini made from red lentils.
If low-carb is more your thing, then you'll appreciate CeCe's Veggie Co. riced cauliflower, and zucchini and sweet potato noodles. With all the prep-work done for you, these veggies are easy to use in place of pastas and grains in all of your usual dishes.
Need a flavorful bottled pasta sauce recommendation? Try my favorite, also stocked at Sprouts--Rao’s Homemade Marinara Sauce. Heat it up, throw in some Beefless Ground crumbles by Gardein, and pour it over freshly prepared zoodles for an out-of-this-world vegan dinner.
I'm gonna be that girl who says you can eat veggies for dessert. Except, it's probably not what you're thinking. I won't suggest you eat carrots instead of cheesecake, but I will urge you to taste the So Delicious Dairy-Free Vanilla Sandwiches.
Just like an ice cream sandwich, the minis we inhaled, er, tasted on the Sprouts Farmers Market tour were rich, creamy, melty, and had the perfect ratio of vanilla filling to chocolate cookie. And ya know what? Tucked inside, and mixed in with their other yummy yet health-conscious ingredients, is some pea protein. Yep, there's your veggie.
While you won't be getting any of your recommended daily vitamins, minerals, fiber, or protein from these mini sandwiches, you will be getting a small taste of vegan, allergy-friendly heaven-on-earth.