Behind The Scenes
Stephanie Urrutia, RD, LD, on Health at Home: How to Implement a Plant-based Diet + Recipes to Try

By The Pelotonia Team|April 09, 2020

There is constantly new information and articles surrounding the best diets and ways to live a healthy lifestyle. It can be daunting to sort through this information and decide what each of us can actually implement into our lives.
On our latest Pelotonia LIVE!, we spoke with Stephanie Urrutia, senior culinary educator at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. She shared with us easy, digestible ways to be more mindful in our eating habits. Stephanie’s tips provide ways to start living a healthier life today, even in the midst COVID-19. You can check out some of the highlights below and watch the full conversation here. The recipes included at the bottom of this blog include ingredients that are found at all grocery stores and can be easily replicated at home.

Doug Ulman: As the senior culinary educator at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, what does that mean? What do you do on a daily basis that you can share with us?
Stephanie Urrutia: A lot of what we’ll do with our day-to-day is recipe development for seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables and how you can work that more plant-based diet into your day-to-day diet without really cutting out anything in general.
So, what is plant-based? That is a question that we get a lot is “what does that mean?” And so it’s not vegan, it’s not vegetarian, and it’s really just working more plants into your day-to-day with breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
If you just get a hankering for a hamburger every now and then, that is all right. That can still work into that diet. If it’s something you know that you enjoy or that you get a lot out of when you do eat – it makes me happy – that’s perfectly fine. But instead of having that, you know, Monday through Friday throughout the week, maybe just one day a week and filling in fruits and vegetables with those other meals that you’re consuming.

Doug Ulman: Many people are dealing with this social isolation in different ways and social distancing. And so, what advice do you have for people just from a general wellness perspective in terms of stress reduction?
Stephanie Urrutia: A lot of it is through your diet. It’s making sure that you’re still eating balanced. I remember going through the grocery store once it all started to kick up and you see a lot of the pantry items are missing. There’d be a lot of pasta that was gone and potatoes that were gone. And we’d walk through that produce section and a lot of the produce was still there. And so I would encourage you when you do go out to grab a salad, to grab fruits and vegetables, and incorporate that into your diets.
The recipes that we have today will cover some pantry items and a lot of them are focused on more vitamin B and vitamin D, especially right now. Luckily the sun is coming out and that vitamin D does a lot for our mental health and we absorb most of it when we are outside.

Doug Ulman: Given COVID-19, are you doing anything different in terms of washing produce once you get it from the store?
Stephanie Urrutia: Now when I come in from the grocery store, I take everything out and I’ll rinse it in a colander. You’ve got maybe loose apples, just rinse them in hot water and scrub them with your hands. And so take your fingers and scrub them all around. You don’t need to put soap on it. You don’t need to do anything with a fruit spray. Really just scrub it down and make sure that it doesn’t have any dirt on the outside. For those of us who aren’t immunocompromised, it’s usually fine.

Doug Ulman: What’s the best advice you might have for people around portion size?
Stephanie Urrutia: We use smaller plates, which is a good way to kind of control that. I’d say for the smoothies that we have, I believe a portion to be about eight ounces. And so maybe a typical juice cup that you would have, or like a coffee mug would be about six to eight ounces. Use something that you’re familiar with.
On the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Website, where they’ve got all of the information that’s a little more updated towards COVID, they do have a couple of “rethink your plate” items on there and it’ll show you a plate and the breakdown that you want to it. Because we do tend to overdo it very easily once you start plating up your meal. Or, maybe you’re really hungry and you don’t realize how much you just put on your plate, and all of a sudden you realize you’ve had instead of four ounces of pasta, like the whole box of macaroni and cheese, which happens to the best of us.

Doug Ulman: What is your go-to breakfast?
Stephanie Urrutia: If I’m on the weekend, I’ll usually sit down with some oatmeal or I’ll make something out of some eggs if I’ve got time to sit down and cook it. If I’m headed into the medical center, oftentimes I’ll try to do an overnight oats, since you set it up the night beforehand and you’re ready to take that out the door with you.
But you want things that are more balanced. This morning, for example, I had a piece of toast, a whole grain toast, lots of seeds to it, and a tablespoon of peanut butter, which is never as much as any of us want it to be, but that is the portion size to it. And then I topped that with a banana.
And that way you’ve got some proteins and carbohydrates, a little bit of fat, everything. It’s important to try to add in a fruit or vegetable with every meal. And so a banana, an apple, some blueberries, anything that’s got that all the way around, is a great way to do that in the morning. And then maybe if it’s a Saturday or a Sunday and I’ve got more time and you’re making eggs, go ahead and toss some vegetables in there.

Recipes to Try:

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