Food. The term is almost synonymous with life itself. As written in the book The Whole Foods Diet [The Lifesaving Plan for Health and Longevity], “we devote more time procuring food and eating them than we do any other life-sustaining activity except breathing and sleeping.”
To picture the belly of a whole food plant-based pantry, is to imagine it filled with a variety of nutrient-rich, health-promoting plant foods: fruits, grains, berries, leaves, roots, legumes, flowers, nuts and seeds, are examples. “A wholefood kitchen is a living, breathing space where we translate intent and knowledge into food that can heal, nourish and delight. But is also so much more than this.
A kitchen filled with whole and natural foods is a powerful place – it is where our most fundamental needs for nourishment are met – from the food we eat to sitting around a table with our loved ones and laying down our burdens of the day.” This is an excerpt from the book Wholefood From the Ground Up by Jude Blereau. In the book, Jude Bluerau also goes on to state that “having some good foundations and some good tools will help you make good-for-you delicious meals with less stress. And, it all begins with a whole and natural foods pantry.”
What are Whole Foods, Plant-Based?
The variety of nutrient-rich, health promoting plant foods is endless. Simply put, whole foods, plant-based, are whole unrefined plants. Fruits, grains, berries, leaves, roots, legumes, flowers, nuts and seeds, are examples of whole foods. Roots are the parts of plants that grow below the ground, producing vegetables such as yam, sweet potato, colorful beets and carrots, turnip, radish, garlic, onion, shallots, ginger, arrowroot, turmeric, fennel, and cassava (the root from which tapioca is made). Leaves include lettuces, kale, spinach, collards, swiss chard, cabbage, and so on. Fruits include the parts of plants that contain seeds, such as tomatoes, apples, mangos, oranges, peppers, cucumbers, and pumpkins. Grains are the seeds themselves: quinoa, oats, barley, corn, wheat, and the like. Legumes (or pulses) are different types of beans: soy, lima, pinto, fava, kidney, black, chickpea, and even peanuts. Flowers are broccoli, cauliflower, dandelions, and so on.
Nuts and other seeds: walnuts, almond, cashews, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flaxseed, and more, contain a wide range of healthy fats, protein, and fiber. Consider all-natural nut (or fruit) butters. Unlike jellies, butter, and margarine, nut butters contain healthful fats that benefit heart health.
The ultimate goal in transitioning toward a whole food diet is to choose cooking methods that retain the nutritional value of food. The closer foods are to their native states – prepared with minimal fat, sugar, salting, and processing – the greater the long-term health benefits. And while it can be a challenge to incorporate whole foods into your everyday diet and completely avoid processed foods, learning how to cut them down can be a great place to start. It’s also important to take the time you need to make the transition, sustainably, in the way that works best for you.
Processed foods contain many ingredients that contribute to poor health: chemicals, preservatives, unhealthy fats, excess sugars, additives, artificial food dyes, refined carbohydrates, and synthetic vitamins and minerals the body cannot process, and more. As a general rule, if there is an ingredient on a food label you can’t make at home or you won’t find in nature, the best practice is to leave the product on the shelf!
I’m Eartha Lowe for Cooking Green Goodness Magazine. Let’s keep in touch! You can also find us on:
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