By Jackie Rainford Corcoran EBS Health Columnist

A plant-based diet is often praised for its incredible health benefits including reduced inflammation; more energy; improved digestion; reduced risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers; and body weight management.

Following a plant-based diet simply means that most of your food comes from plants and you eat meats, dairy and processed foods sparingly.

But let’s face it, in today’s culture the healthy choice is often not the easy choice and we opt for convenience over nutritional value. We’re busy people and it can be a challenge to prioritize our health with all of our daily obligations.

A report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2015 stated that adults who exercise less than 30 minutes a day should consume 1.5–2 cups of fruit and 2–3 cups of vegetables daily. However, they discovered that 76 percent of us did not meet fruit recommendations, and 87 percent did not meet recommended vegetable consumption.

What’s an already overburdened hard working American to do?

Here is a life hack that you will radically and easily increase the amount of plants you eat: drink them. Start your day with whole foods that taste great and can be eaten on the go. By adding enough fat, a smoothie can keep you satisfied until lunch. Here’s a simple and versatile recipe to get you started:

Green Machine (serves two)
6 romaine leaves or 1 cup of Spinach
4 kale leaves
1/2 cup fresh parsley, cilantro or basil
1/2 cup pineapple, mango or banana fresh or frozen
1/2 avocado
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled
3 tablespoons protein powder (optional)
1 cup of water, coconut milk or coconut water

Chop all ingredients and combine them with 1 cup of water, coconut milk or coconut water, and blend until smooth.

If you have bananas that are going to rot, break them into bite sized chunks and freeze them. If using fresh fruit, consider adding ice cubes for a colder, frothier smoothie.

Much scientific research has been done on the effects of nutrition and proven the benefits of eating a diet rich in plants. One of the most comprehensive studies done is the Harvard-based Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study, which included approximately 110,000 men and women whose health and dietary habits were followed for 14 years.

It concluded that higher fruits and vegetables intakes correlated with lower chances of developing cardiovascular disease. Compared with those who ate less than one and a half servings a day, those who ate eight or more servings daily were 30 percent less likely to have had a heart attack or stroke. Cardiovascular disease is currently the leading cause of death in the U.S.

Green leafy vegetables are some of the least expensive and most nutrient dense foods you can eat and they are available in Montana year round (although often not locally grown, as our climate doesn’t permit year round farming). To avoid toxins that get absorbed into the soil and plants during much of our conventional farming, choose organic produce whenever possible.

Eat a wide variety of plants to get all of the powerful nutrients your body needs. You’ll feel and see the difference. Let me know about your experience.

Jackie Rainford Corcoran is an IIN Certified Holistic Health Coach and Consultant, a public speaker and health activist. Contact her at