It may come as no surprise to you, but meat and processed grain make up a good portion of many people's diets. And while that steak dinner may hit the spot after a long day, incorporating more vegetables and whole grains into your diet is important for your overall health.

Replacing even just one meal a week with a plant-based meal can have a positive impact and help you focus on your health goals. To start, try these four protective foods:

1) Chickpeas
Beans are a great meat substitute. They provide zinc, iron and protein, and they are an excellent fiber source.

Tip: Use them as a meatless sandwich spread (hummus) or crunchy snack (dried chickpeas).

Try this: Baked Chickpea Nuts from EatingWell

2) Red Peppers
Orange and red vegetables provide vitamin A to support your immune system.

Tip: Stuff peppers with last night’s leftovers (e.g., stir fry) and add roasted red peppers to sandwiches and salads.

Try this: Roasted Red Peppers Stuffed with Kale & Rice from EatingWell 

3) Broccoli
Dark green vegetables contain carotenoids that may support brain health.

Tip: Fat enhances these protective compounds, so toss broccoli with oil and roast at 400 degrees for 20 minutes for a quick dinner side.

Try this: Roasted Broccoli with Lemon from EatingWell

4) Bulgur
Whole grains may reduce your risk of diabetes and heart disease, so instead of pasta or white rice, try quick-cooking bulgur.

Tip: Add 2 cups boiling water per cup of dried bulgur. Let sit for 25 minutes, then fluff with a fork. (Or try whole wheat couscous—it takes even less time.) 

Try this: Bulgur with Ginger & Orange from EatingWell