Desiree RD: Positive Nutrition and Plant-based Tips

Registered dietitian. Bestselling plant-based cookbook author. Gut health geek. Why we’re fans of Desiree Nielsen and her positive approach!

We love partnering with registered dietitian Desiree Nielsen because she shares our belief in the power of plant-based food and simple choices to help people live healthier lives.

For over 30 years, everything we do at Silver Hills Sprouted Bakery has been guided by our belief that investing in your health is the greatest gift you can give to the people you love—including yourself. Because when you’re healthy, you have more to share.

And we couldn’t have found a more joyfully aligned partner on that mission than Desiree! Keep reading to explore her positive nutrition approach to eating and get nutrition tips anyone can use—all based on our 2023 chat with Desiree RD.

Positive Nutrition =

Nutrition Education Without Value Judgements

Food has the power to transform lives for the better.

The very act of eating can be so pleasurable. It’s one of our only opportunities multiple times a day to bring a little bit of pleasure, fun, or joy into our day on a regular basis. When we nourish our bodies with what they need, we feel so much better. We have the energy it takes to look after our kids, to crush it at work, or just to feel good in our skin.

Fighting Misinformation with Evidence-based Advice

As my community has grown, one of the things I feel acutely is that we must be very careful about how we share nutrition information online.
 
We have no idea what someone’s background is, what their current relationship with food and their body is. And even providing what some health professionals might think is innocuous nutrition information can be truly damaging for people.
 
That’s why my core philosophy is to practice what I call “positive nutrition.” And that’s not just to be like, “Yay! Food is awesome!” (because it is!) but it’s that I would much rather focus on what to eat more of than what not to eat.
 
[Most nutrition advice] utterly forgets that our body is literally built of the nutrients we ingest, so we are made of what we do eat—not what we don’t eat!
 
I would much rather encourage people to eat more plants because that’s something that anyone can do, whether they’re an omnivore or a vegan. Everybody can eat more plants!
 
I want to talk about nutrients and what they do in the body.
 
I try to avoid topics that many people have value judgements on, such as calories, because calories don’t really tell us much of anything about the nutrient density of food.
 
If we think of calories and what they truly are, they’re a measure of energy. When we put calories in our body, we are giving our body energy. But there’s so much wrapped in this idea of calorie counting. (Is this too many calories? Not enough calories?).
 
I would much rather just take that whole conversation off the table.
 
And instead, be like, “Hey, here’s fibre. Fibre is really cool because it helps to regulate your digestion. It helps to feed the gut microbiome.”  Because people don’t have a value judgement about fibre.
It’s the same thing with iron. We can all agree that iron is a good thing because you make red blood cells out of it and that’s pretty important!
 
I would rather talk about what matters most in nutrition—which is simply making sure your body gets what it needs.
 
[Your body] knows how to do everything. You don’t need detoxes. You don’t need wacky diet schemes. You just put the nutrition in, and your body will do its thing!

Focus on More, Not Less

In our culture, much of what we think of as regular, healthy eating and nutrition is very much about diet culture. And there’s so much that we have to unpack about our own beliefs about nutrition.
 
Nutrition is just meant to be a tool to help you live well.
It’s not supposed to be your full-time job. (Unless it is your full-time job!) But for everyone else, it’s not. So, I love the power of simple swaps that dramatically impact your nutrition.
 
If someone just takes a regular sandwich bread and they switch to sprouted grain bread, they get more fibre, more protein, and more minerals—without actually changing how they eat.
 
And I love any time I can give people those tools because we only have so much energy to make change and think about how we eat.

Find Balance in Your Relationship with Food

[Some people have so] much tension and perhaps fear over making the wrong decision [about what they eat].
 
And sometimes the role of a dietitian is to just say, “You know what? It’s okay. Maybe you should go out for an ice cream every once in a while.” Or “It’s okay to go to a restaurant where maybe you don’t have control over what you’re eating.”
 
Sometimes I feel like there are two camps: the people who just don’t think about nutrition at all, and the people who think about it far too much. And you’re always trying to strike that beautiful—and sometimes hard to achieve—middle ground.
 
Health is a very holistic process. And I think the other thing that’s so important to realize is that health is not a destination.
 
It’s not like, “Oh, if I do all of these things right, I will arrive at health and it just stops, right?”
 
Health is something that we practice every single day. It’s realizing that we’re not energized, so maybe we have a 3:00 PM green smoothie to help get our energy up. Or realizing we’ve been working too much, and so we choose to go to bed an hour earlier for the next few nights.
 
It is about being in your body, saying, “What do I need right now?” And adjusting accordingly.

Desiree’s Top 5 Nutrition Tips That Anyone Can Use

Desiree advocates against one-size-fits-all nutrition advice—because what’s right for one person can be totally wrong for another. But she has tips to share that can help busy families eat healthy and start or stay on a holistic path to wellness!

The Simple Swap

The simple swap is absolutely a top tip. Swapping Silver Hills sprouted grain bread for your usual bread is a perfect example of a simple swap!

As a gut geek, you just can’t get over how much more fibre Silver Hills has than other breads. And the plant-based protein! Just having two slices of sprouted bread with some natural peanut butter and a bit of jam and you’ve got like 17 grams of protein there—that is legitimately a good, protein rich meal.

Relax a little bit.

I think we make nutrition more challenging than it should be.

So, take a deep breath. Did you put some fruit, vegetables, proteins, and whole grains in the fridge?

As long as you are getting those four types of foods every day, in some combination, you are doing alright.

Simplify.

Meals can be simple—they don’t always have to be extravagant affairs. It’s okay to eat a chickpea tuna sandwich with some sliced veggies for dinner. It takes 10 minutes. And that’s a complete and nourishing dinner. It doesn’t have to take you all night—because most of us don’t have all night!

Get kids involved.

If you start them early—and I admit they are not much of a time-saver to you when you start them early—[your patience pays off].

It helps as a parent because when kids are involved in making food choices and preparing food, they are more likely to eat the food, which saves you a lot of stress at the dinner table.

Learning food skills helps kids foster a positive relationship around food and their bodies as well. And that happens starting very, very young.

Have 5 back-pocket recipes.

On weeks when everybody’s got lots of activities, and you’re all really busy, having five back-pocket recipes [is a sanity saver].

Don’t do a Pinterest board with 700 recipes—have five.

Have a chickpea tuna sandwich. Have a simple pasta with tomato sauce or cashew alfredo. Just have five basics that you can whip together in 20 minutes. When you go to the grocery store on Sunday, keep the ingredients for those foods on your list, so they’re already in the house for those nights when you’re just like, “Bah! I don’t know!” And you can make the sandwich. You can make the pasta. You can make the lentil soup.

So many of us grew up with “We eat tacos on Tuesdays” and “We have pastas on Thursdays.” There’s a reason our parents did that. To take the thought out of it, and just put it on autopilot. It is totally okay to do that!

More from Desiree RD: Recipes, Articles, and Videos

Get More of Desiree RD’s Practical, Plant-based, Positive Nutrition Advice: Recipes, Articles, and Videos!

We can’t get enough of Desiree’s real-life-easy, evidence-based, positive nutrition approach and gut health advice—or her delicious plant-based recipes that help put healthy food on your plate every day of your busy week.

Check out our Best of Desiree RD content collection below for a healthy helping of sprouted inspiration right here on SilverHillsBakery.com.

Want more? Here’s where you can get your fill of wholesome plant-based nutrition and recipe content from our favourite registered dietitian:

Follow Desiree on Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest

Listen to The Allsorts Podcast (available free on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you stream your favourite podcasts)

Browse Desiree’s blog for articles and recipes

Sign up for Desiree’s newsletter

Cook from her Eat More Plants Cookbook or get her latest, Good for Your Gut (available in print and audiobook!)

Easy Healthy Meal Prep for Busy Families (Graphics)
How to Make Your Breakfast More Filling
5 Healthy Bento Box Lunch Ideas for Kids
5 Common Toddler Nutrition Questions Answered
Healthy Eating Habits at Home
The BEST Vegan Breakfast Sandwich
Healthy Cinnamon Sugar Nut Butter
Mediterranean Hummus Toast
Pumpkin Hummus Toast with Zaatar
Vegan Tofu Banh Mi Sandwich
Buffalo Cauliflower Burger
Vegan Stuffing with Kale & Pecans
Vegan French Toast with
Caramelized Bananas & Walnuts
Vegan Bread Pudding with
Cardamom and Pears
Easy Hummus Toast Reel
Small Changes Reel
Natural vs Added Sugar Reel
Fibre and Gut Health Reel
Edamame Sesame Spread, Dip, and Sandwich Reel
Registered Dietitian Workshop at The Sprouted Oven