Power up your diet with plant-based meals

Opting for more vegetables and plant-based proteins is a new trend that's long been healthy.

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Plant-based meals aren't just for vegetarians anymore. International food consultants Baum and Whiteman named vegetables and plant-based proteins two of the hottest restaurant trends for 2017. That's no surprise to Harvard dietitians. "There are many reasons why people are eating more plant-based meals," says registered dietitian Kathy McManus, director of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital. "Part of it is about health, and part of it is about eating more environmentally sustainable meals."

Veg-centric meals

One of the trends is the "vegetable forward" or "veg-centric" movement. It's taken average vegetables and elevated them into creative entrées and side dishes. This cuisine focuses on roasting, layering, caramelizing, and grilling vegetables to give them bold flavors and appeal. You might find restaurants offering caramelized cauliflower with balsamic breadcrumbs, roasted parsnips with pistachio and lemon, or bitter greens and crispy yams. In some cases, the dishes are accompanied by chunks of animal protein (meat, poultry, or fish) that complement the meal but don't dominate it, similar to a Mediterranean-style diet.

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