Plant-based is a focus on foods primarily from plants. This includes fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans. It does not mean that you are vegetarian or vegan and never eat meat or dairy. Rather, you are proportionately choosing more of your foods from plant sources. I prefer the term, “plant-rich”. It feels more accurate to me. Vegetarian diets come in lots of shapes and sizes, and you should choose the version that works best for you. Bio-individuality is key for people. One person’s medicine is another’s poison. Thus, let’s not think that our BFF’s diet will be award winning for us. So, what are all the names of all these different dietary, plant-based things?

  • Semi-vegetarian- includes eggs, dairy foods, and occasionally meat, poultry, fish, and seafood.
  • Pescatarian- includes eggs, dairy foods, fish, and seafood, but no meat or poultry.
  • Vegetarian- includes eggs and dairy foods, but no meat, poultry, fish, or seafood.
  • Vegan- includes no animal foods.

If followed properly, a whole food, plant-based diet limits the use of oils, added sugars and processed foods, leaving only whole foods to provide nutrition. This maximizes nutrient intake and virtually eliminates foods that can lead to poor health outcomes. These diets are low in saturated fat, free of cholesterol, and rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Research also reveals that following this type of diet will lower your risks of heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), digestive disease, many cancers and obesity. Studies also show that a plant-based diet can help lower body weight and reduce your LDL cholesterol. You will also gain increased energy levels! 

Plant rich diets are naturally more nutrient-dense than standard American diet due to the increase in healthy fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans. Veggies have more vitamins and minerals per calorie than meat and animal products do. Beyond the vitamins, plant-based diets are high in fiber and contain more natural sugars and provide healthier fats. When you get your satiety from plants, it comes with so much more.  Eating a healthy plant-based diet can lower your risk for many diseases — some obvious, some a little more surprising. While eating foods naturally lower in saturated fat leads to a lowered risk of heart disease, it can also lower risk for Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and various forms of cancer. While genetics and other lifestyle choices will always play a role in disease risk, a healthy diet is a cornerstone of living with as little illness as possible. 


Ok!  You want to try to add more plants into your diet. But how?? Here are some tips to help you get started on more of a plant-rich diet.

  • Eat those veggies! Fill half your plate with vegetables at lunch and dinner. Make sure you include plenty of colors in choosing your vegetables. Enjoy vegetables as a snack with hummus, salsa, or guacamole.
  • Rethink your meat mentality! Have smaller amounts. Use it as a garnish instead of a centerpiece.
  • Choose good fats! Fats in olive oil, olives, nuts and nut butters, seeds, and avocados are particularly healthy choices.
  • Try to cook one vegetarian meal each week! Build these meals around beans, whole grains, and vegetables.
  • Get in the GREENS! Try a variety of green leafy vegetables such as kale, collards, Swiss chard, spinach, and other greens each day. Steam, grill, braise, or stir-fry to preserve their flavor and nutrients.
  • Make salads and grain bowls! Fill a bowl with salad greens such as romaine, spinach, Bibb, or red leafy greens. Add an assortment of other vegetables along with fresh herbs, beans, peas, or tofu.
  • Have fruit for dessert! A ripe, juicy peach, a refreshing slice of watermelon, or a crisp apple will satisfy your craving for a sweet bite after a meal.


What might be a good recipe to try with lots of flexibility to begin ? Try a “nourishing bowl”! 

To make a healthy nourish bowl, simply: Start off with a base of leafy greens. Top with a variety of nutrient dense veggies, protein, carbs and healthy fats. Then bring it all together by drizzling or scattering on some delicious add-ons. Get creative and have fun – the options are endless!

Start off with a base of leafy greens. Some options: spinach, kale, arugula, mixed baby greens, romaine, leaf lettuce, swiss chard, sprouts, microgreens, etc.

Next, top your base of leafy greens with a variety of nutrient dense veggies, protein, carbs and healthy fats. You can sprinkle them on top or arrange them in neat little piles or stripes across the top – whatever makes you happy!

  • VEGGIES: They can be raw, roasted or grilled. Pick a few that you enjoy! Some options: carrots, cucumber, cabbage, zucchini, beets, mushrooms, peppers, radish, broccoli, cauliflower, snap peas, green beans, asparagus, Brussel sprouts, etc.
  • PROTEIN: Some options: nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, quinoa, tempeh, tofu, eggs, fish and quality meat (chicken, turkey, beef, etc.).
  • WHOLE FOOD CARBS: Some options: sweet potatoes, quinoa, rice, corn, squash, whole grains, wild rice, beans, peas, etc.
  • HEALTHY FATS: Some options: avocado, nuts, seeds, olives, olive oil, tahini, salmon, etc. USE sparingly.

Lastly, toppings! These are things that you drizzle, scatter and scoop over the top to bring it all together. Some options: homemade or quality store-bought dressings or sauces, fermented veggies like sauerkraut or kimchi, hemp hearts, salsa, hummus, fruit, cheese, guacamole, pesto, nutritional yeast, fresh lemon juice, herbs, spices or seasonings, etc. Again, go lightly on anything fattening or we defeat our intention.


Visit my Instagram page @mostlyplantmama for some easy, family friendly and delicious plant-rich recipes!

Courtney Daylong is a Carnegie Mellon University alum and holds a Masters in Public Management with a focus in Strategic Planning. She has spent over a decade in executive leadership as a District Manager and Regional Vice President in education and with American Honda Motor Co. throughout the Midwest and Los Angeles. She also has completed doctoral studies from the University of Southern California in Public Policy as well as a BA in education. After having three boys, she co-founded a global nutrition business, Totally Fit Mama with her celebrity client. She now teaches at the Gelfend Center - Carnegie Mellon University and works with private clients. Living on platinum status at hotels, the reality of eating well and making healthy food choices on the road can prove to be challenging.... This was Courtney's life as a corporate District Manager and Vice President until she began taking "green drinks" and healthy snacks on her travels while her colleagues watched as her energy soared and their interest piqued. She became the "go to" person for healthy insight about living well and eating healthy on the road. (Prior to her corporate life, Courtney was in the modeling industry and battled anorexia, her earliest time facing questions of food choices). After having her first child, she was exclusively breastfeeding and learned he was milk/soy protein intolerant (MSPI). She chose to eliminate all dairy and soy from her diet and saw a vast difference in her baby. This began her formal interest in nutrition and her decision to leave the corporate world. She had her second child , also needing to eliminate dairy and soy for approximately one year. Both boys grew out of their intolerance around the age of one, but Courtney's interest in quality nutrition for her family was soon met by studying at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. IIN teaches hundreds of dietary theory's from Paleo to Vegan to the cabbage soup diet, with no one right way for everyone. One persons food is another's poison, as they say, and Courtney appreciates the teaching of bio individuality, practicing it with her clients today. Holding a Masters in Public Management from Carnegie Mellon University, a Bachelor of Arts from Point Park University and doctoral coursework in risk mgmt from the University of Southern California, she now works with individuals, companies and schools to better help their overall health, quality of life and nutrition knowledge for improved choices. As a sought after celebrity health and nutrition coach, she is known for her ability to really listen to her clients needs while creating empowering plans for their "health revolution". She is also an accredited breastfeeding counselor with a focus on maternal and infant nutrition, helping mamas, babies and toddlers get the right nutrition foundation leading to making long term healthy food choices. Courtney also teaches at The Gelfand Center-Carnegie Mellon University.