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NATUROPATHIC RECIPE: Plant-rich Vegetarian Paella – Discover the dish that everyone’s talking about !

Asmaa Lahlou image
Asmaa Lahlou

January 8, 2024
We are almost midway through January, a month where many of us are setting intentions for healthier habits. This year, we're encouraging a powerful shift that can transform your well-being: infusing your diet with more plants! This isn't about excluding animal products but rather enriching your meals with the incredible diversity of plant-based foods and that’s why we call it plant-rich, rather than plant-based.

Before we get to the Vegetarian Paella recipe, let’s clarify what is the difference between Plant-based diet and Plan-rich diet?

The term “plant-based diet” is often associated with a diet consisting entirely of foods derived from plants, with no animal products (excluding honey, ghee, etc). It emphasizes vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds, and it’s known for its benefits to health and the environment.

On the other hand, a “plant-rich diet” refers to a dietary approach that doesn’t exclude animal products but ensures that plants form the core of your nutrition. It’s about increasing the quantity and variety of plant foods in your diet, rather than completely eliminating animal-derived foods. This approach allows for a flexible eating pattern – nowadays called flexitarian diet – that can include moderate amounts of meat/fish, dairy, and eggs alongside a bounty of plant-based foods.

By opting for a plant-rich diet, you’re not just committing to a way of eating; you’re embracing a lifestyle that celebrates nutritional diversity without imposing strict limitations. It’s a sustainable, inclusive way to nourish your body, supporting both personal health and ecological or environmental sustainability. So, whether you’re a meat-eater looking to incorporate more vegetables into your meals or a vegetarian seeking to optimize nutrient intake, a plant-rich diet is a versatile and healthful choice that accommodates a spectrum of dietary preferences.

Why go Plant-Rich?

Plants are powerhouses of micro-nutrients, including a wide spectrum of vitamins and minerals essential for numerous processes in the body. They’re also abundant in phytonutrients, known for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties. These natural compounds energize the body, bolster immunity, aid digestion, maintain gut health and microbiome balance, and contribute to hormonal and weight equilibrium. They’re even linked to enhanced mental health.
The average diet often lacks the necessary fiber variety for a thriving gut microbiome. Aim for 25 to 35 grams daily, but remember, if you’re navigating gut issues, start slow and address underlying problems first.

Balancing Plants and Animal Proteins

As a certified naturopathic chef, I believe in the place of wholesome animal proteins and fats within a balanced plant-rich diet. Moderation is key. During our January challenge: “Green January”, however, we’re spotlighting the upscaling of plant-based foods in your meals.
If you’re pondering your diet, food choices, or aiming to optimize your well-being, don’t hesitate to book a free consultation with me. With six years of experience and over 600 clients guided, I’m here to support your health journey.

Let’s get back to the Paella recipe now…

Featured Naturopathic Recipe: Vegetarian Paella

Transform the classic paella into a plant-rich feast, teeming with vegetables, herbs, and spices, and reap the benefits of phytonutrients which can help reduce inflammation. Let’s bring flavor and health to the forefront without the extra salt – your taste buds and body will thank you!
This plant-rich vegetarian paella is a celebration on a plate – a delicious, nutritious main or side dish that’ll become a staple in your recipe collection.
Enjoy the burst of flavors and health benefits with every bite!

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 35-40 minutes
Serves: 4-5

– 3 to 4 tbsp olive oil
– 1 red onion, chopped
– 1 red pepper, chopped
– 1 yellow pepper, chopped
– 1 fennel bulb, chopped
– 2 to 3 garlic cloves, crushed
– 1 large bay leaf
– ½ tsp turmeric
– ½ tsp ginger
– ½ tsp smoked paprika (optional but highly recommended)
– A large pinch of saffron threads
– 125g wholegrain risotto rice, soaked overnight with 1 tsp ACV
– 500ml vegetable stock – ideally homemade
– 250g shelled broad beans
– ½ to 1 bunch asparagus, roughly chopped (separate tips from spears/stems, that should be peeled as usual)
– 15 mini plum tomatoes, halved
– 5 small grilled artichokes in oil, drained and quartered
– 15 pitted black olives, crushed or sliced
– Salt & pepper to taste
– 2 tbsp roughly chopped parsley
– 4 lemon wedges

1. Gently fry the onion in olive oil a large paella pan for 5 mins.
2. Add peppers and fennel, fry until soft and golden.
3. Stir in garlic, bay leaf, spices, then rice. Add stock with a pinch of salt. Simmer uncovered for 20 mins.
4. Add asparagus spears/stems after 10 mins.
5. Blanch remaining broad beans and asparagus tips. Drain and deskin the beans.
6. Off the heat, add tomatoes, artichokes, broad beans, and asparagus to rice. Mix, cover, rest for 10 mins.
7. Stir in olives and parsley. Serve with lemon wedges.

– You can replace smoked paprika by sweet paprika. Keep in mind, though, that you’ll be missing out on that distinctive smoky essence reminiscent of sausage.
– You could add more vegetables or increase the quantity of asparagus for instance from 1/2 a bunch to a full bunch, depending on your gut health, but just remember it’s a journey, don’t go overboard too quickly, even tiny changes in your eating habits will make a difference over the long run.
– I recommend soaking your rice, especially wholegrain rice – and in general all legumes, nuts, seeds and grains – in order to reduce their phytic acid level, an anti-nutrient that binds into minerals and doesn’t allow their absorption in the guts.

Join the Plant-Rich Challenge!
Ready to take part in our food challenge? It’s simple: Just add more plants to your daily diet, like this Vegetarian Paella recipe. Share your creations and join the conversation using #PlantRich on social media or in our community. Not a member yet of MyAuthentikSpoon community? No worries, just follow the instructions on the Academy and register, it’s Free!

Let’s make health the highlight of our year!
Looking forward to supporting you through MyAuthentikSpoon programs and seeing your plant-rich journeys unfold.

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