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What is a whole foods plant-based diet?
In the documentary, How Not to Die Dr. Michael Gregor says that telling him you are vegetarian or vegan, only tells him what you don’t eat, and plant-based includes a whole lot of garbage. But whole-foods plant-based tells him what you do eat:
Fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, and whole grains
Nuts, seeds, peanut butter, almond butter in limited amounts
Minimally processed foods such as plant-based milks, tofu etc. in limited amounts
Raw sugar and natural sweeteners such as fruit pastes, maple syrup, and agave nectar in limited amounts.
We do not eat:
Animal products (beef, lamb, veal, mutton, pork, insects, poultry, dairy, eggs, fish, honey.)
Oils, because they are pure fat. Olive oil is just removing all the good parts of the olive, and leaving only the fat. Eating a whole olive is far better than just eating its fat. This is what is meant by “whole foods” in a whole foods plant-based diet.
We also avoid to the greatest degree possible, processed foods other than those listed above.
You don’t have to do it all at once!
(Unless you have cancer or coronary artery disease or diabetes, in which case, do it now.) I made this change in 3 or 4 phases. First I “went vegan” and was soon buying all the highly processed but very tasty patties and nuggets and chunks. Then I tried getting off the processed except on weekends, and then I got just one “day off” a week, etc.
The thing is, if you try this—really try it. No meat, no dairy, no oil—for just a week or ten days, you’ll feel so good nobody will be able to force you to go back even if they try. If you do it this way, you will not believe the difference.
If you just get off meat and dairy and take a little longer or never with the processed foods and oils, (in moderation) you’ll still notice a huge difference.
Do it for your health
WFPB is the only diet proven in peer reviewed studies (Dr. Dean Ornish in The Lancet and many others) TO REVERSE CORONARY ARTERY DISEASE.
It prevents and helps to heal several cancers, type 2 diabetes, multiple auto-immune disorders, hypertension, and high cholesterol.
Do it for the planet
Animal agriculture is the number one source of greenhouse gasses causing climate change as we speak. 77,408,000,000 pounds PER DAY of untreated cow manure is produced in the US alone. And there is no means of dealing with it. It’s collected in tanks, and spread on fields, and the runoff is responsible for the hypoxic zone (dead zone where there’s not enough oxygen to support life) in the Gulf of Mexico where nothing can live that this year measures between 7200 and 8500 square miles.
Animal ag uses 30% of the world’s fresh water, and 70% of its cropland.
We have reached the breaking point for the planet. We must all do everything we can.
Besides, it’s GREAT for us!
Dr. Mark Gregor’s Daily Dozen
If you eat these 12 things every day, and eat enough to get full, you are getting excellent nutrition.
Beans: 3 servings per day - Serving size 1/2 cup cooked beans
Berries: 1 serving per day - Serving size 1/2 cup
Other fruits: 3 servings - 1/2 cup per serving
Cruciferous Veggies: (broccoli, kale, asparagus,) 1/2 cup per day
Other greens: 2 per day - 1 cup per serving
Other Vegetables: 2 per day - 1/2 cup
Flax Seed: 1 tablespoon per day
Nuts: 1/4 cup nuts or 2 tbsps nut butter per day
Grains: 3 servings per day - 1/2 cup cereal or 1 slice of bread is a serving
Spices: 1/4 teaspoon per day
Exercise: 90 minutes moderate or 40 minutes vigorous
Liquids; tea, decaf coffee, water (Dr. Esselystyn insists caffeine in tea or other beverages doesn’t seem to damage the endothelium the way the caffeine in coffee does,) Juice is not encouraged. If you want juice, eat the fruit or veggie it came from.)
I would add 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast per day to ensure you get enough B12 and don’t need a supplement. (Most Americans are not getting enough B12, omnivores included.)
15 minutes of sunshine daily (without sunblock—BUT that’s ALL) to ensure you get enough Vitamin D and don’t need a supplement. (After 15 minutes, cover up. I prefer a light wrap and sunhat to sunblock. If it can kill coral reefs what will it do to the body?)
Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn has recently become passionate about a small handful of “green leafies,” steamed for 5 minutes, with a few drops of balsamic vinegar on top several times a day for his patients trying to reverse coronary artery disease. Chemical reactions take place on your tongue, due to the bacteria, and then a second round of them happen in your stomach, due to the stomach acid, and they wind up creating beneficial nitric oxide to replenish what you’ve lost.
Substitutions & Tips
So instead of white flour, I use whole grain flour. White flour has the germ and bran removed, and leaves only the endosperm. Whole grain flour has all three parts of the grain.
Gluten free? Here’s the recipe for the perfect whole grain gluten free flour blend.
Instead of white sugar, I use raw sugar, sometimes called Florida crystals. White sugar is heavily refined and sometimes bleached by filtering it through cow bone ash. Even better, substitute maple syrup, date paste, agave nectar, bananas, or applesauce as sweeteners. Never use artificial sweeteners or eat foods containing them. (Diet soda.)
In baking, for some recipes that call for oil, you can substitute unsweetened applesauce. Try it!
In baking, for some recipes that call for oil, you might also substitute natural peanut butter. I do this with my chocolate cookies, a recipe I’ll post soon. I drain as much oil off the peanut butter as I can. To get the right consistency, I sometimes cut the peanut butter with some applesauce.
In some recipes that call for an egg, you can use the famous flaxseed egg: 3 tablespoons water + 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal = 1 egg. Let it soak for 15 minutes before adding to your recipe. Flaxseed meal is sometimes called ground flax seed.
With a very good non-stick pan, you can sauté your vegetables without any oil or spray whatsoever. Just get the pan good and hot first, keeping the temp to medium or medium high so you don’t ruin the pan. Test heat by dripping water—if it beads up and dances, it’s hot enough. Then dump in the onions first, and the other veggies follow. Constant motion is key, so stir very frequently. Mushrooms help, because they contain their own liquid. When the veggies begin to stick, use just enough low sodium or homemade veggie broth to deglaze and keep from sticking. Continue like that until the vegetables are fork-tender.
In tacos, substitute drained and rinsed black beans for the hamburger in the taco recipe. Use the a plant-based taco seasoning packet such as Old El Paso or Taco Bell brands, or mix up your own blend, and prepare it just as you would with ground beef. (It’s not beef. Beef is a made-up word. It’s a beautiful cow with big brown eyes and paintbrush lashes. I’ve seen them play with their person like a dog would do, chase and kick a ball. Humans never eat beef. They eat the decomposing flesh of dead animals.)
Buy whole grain pastas, such as shells, elbows, spaghetti, etc.
I switched to Classico Pasta Sauce, sweet basil flavor, because it has no added oil. Also, you can reuse the jars for canning if you’re into that.
Build your meals around starches. This is really a starch-based diet. Forget everything you’ve been told about carbs being bad.
Begin with brown rice, jasmine rice, udon noodles, couscous, quinoa, whole grain pasta, or a starchy vegetable such as a potato, sweet potato, yam, or winter squash. These ingredients will help you feel full.
Then add roasted, sautéed, or steamed vegetables, seasoned however you like. Some of my favorite ways to season my gigantic frying pans full of veggies is with General Tso sauce, Tamari (vegan soy sauce), vegan Worcester sauce, balsamic vinegar.
Sometimes I add a little diced pineapple, mango, or mandarin oranges to the pan, and even splash in a little of the juice, and it makes a perfect dish.
Scoop the cooked, seasoned veggies over your starch and you have a meal. Top with some slivered almonds for a protein boost and a little satisfying fat.
Try some time saving methods
When you bring home your produce, rinse and shred your greens and pop them into a big container with a cover.
When you dice veggies like peppers, onions, carrots, or celery for one meal, dice lots more than you need, and store in the fridge ready to pull out and use.
Make use of your crockpot. I almost always have a crockpot full of either chili or stew to nosh on through the week.
Cook more than you need when making rice or pasta—saving half for another meal.
Make cookies and muffins. Having baked goods around really takes the edge off any cravings that might come along. And the cookie and muffin recipes on Forks Over Knives could be a self-contained breakfast.
What do you eat?
At first, you might think there’s absolutely nothing you can eat. That’s more likely if you were mostly basing every meal around meat, dairy, and oil. Change is so good for us, though.
If you go into this, go into it with a whole heart and an open mind. I promise, if you follow the plan, you will feel loads better within days. By 3 weeks you won’t even believe the difference.
Here are some of our regular, go-to meals:
Tacos, burritos, chili, soups, stews, stir fries, roasted veggies, Spanish rice, risotto, teriyaki noodles, pasta, goulash, French toast, pancakes, omelettes, wraps, sandwiches, banana muffins, chocolate chip cookies and more.
There is no recipe you cannot tweak to make it plant-based and healthy. If you have a recipe you don’t want to give up, send it to me and I’ll see what I can do!
These are the basics of whole foods, plant-based eating.
Let me know if I left anything out.
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