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Whole Food Plant-Based: What’s In Your Pantry?

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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Twitter; tweeting about all things food and new discoveries.

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In Food Matters: How Is Your Food Being Handled For Consumption?

It’s safe to say we all love our food, for the most part! We’d also like to believe that – for the most part- the foods we choose to buy and consume have been prepared and handled with the utmost care and safety.  When we’re about to indulge, thought that our food was “prepared with love” puts us at ease. But, the reality of the matter is that’s unless the food you are about to eat was prepared by your own hands, one can only hope the food handler’s decisions and actions, including how the food is displayed or stored before purchase, will in no way affect your health and well being. Therefore educating and motivating food handlers to take care of all aspects of food safety is the key ensuring food is safe to eat.

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Some of our readers have shared their stories of what they consider to be food safety issues experienced not only dining out in the last few weeks, but while performing tasks as “mundane” as grocery shopping, or simply purchasing tea. Here’s a short list compiled to share in this article.

Readers List: Food Handling Matters

  • Bare thumbs hitting the broth in a warm bowl of soup as it’s brought to you.
  • Cashiers at popular coffee chains take your money to cash you out, then proceed to prepare your tea – unwrapping the tea bag then using those same fingers that just handled money to place the tea bag in the cup.
  • Witnessing a shopper pick up an unwrapped muffin in the “self-serve” baked goods section of a grocery store – drop it on the floor – pick it up and put it right back where she took it from – then proceed to pick out another muffin. A manager on staff was alerted.
  • The tiny little fingers of cute babies grabbing the tips of baguettes as the strollers go by.
  • It’s open season on unwrapped straws and utensils – the agony of trying to figure out which one is safe to grab.
  • A baby cockroach underneath the food tray at an upscale mall.
  • Slices of fruit being sampled at a farmers market with no tooth pics available – each person just going in with their bare hands.
  • Tongs handled by the public sitting on top of food in their warming stations and on top of baked goods. Keep in mind that the handles of utensils used to serve out food should NEVER come in contact with the food. Serving utensils should be stored separate from food to prevent contamination.
  • A wife watched the horror on her husband’s face as he pulled a long strand of hair out of his mouth.
  • A restaurant with one person on staff handling cash, serving food, and running back to the kitchen if needed. “Are you kidding me?”
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Any establishment with a “self-serve” policy, or that’s serving food on display not covered, run the risk of cross contamination. That muffin that fell on the floor is now contaminated. When it was picked up off the floor and put back, all other baked goods on that tray became contaminated. The Public Health Agency of Canada estimates that each year 1 in 8 Canadians become ill from the foods they eat.

The matter of food handling is not to be taken lightly. Great care should be taken with how food is prepared and stored/displayed for the public’s consumption and all food handlers should be certified according their Department of  Public Health standards. Frequent hand washing is a key action for anyone handling food! Speaking from experience, when food inspectors visit a food vendor’s booth, it’s almost guaranteed that the number one thing they’ll look for is a hand wash station. This is just the tip of the iceberg. To handle food for public consumption within the province of Ontario you must have learned about these things: proper hygiene; causes of food borne illnesses; proper food storage; proper receiving and delivery of food; pest control; public health legislation; time-temperature control; food safety management system; cleaning and sanitizing; displaying, serving, discarding, and cross-contamination prevention. This is just the beginning of the journey to obtain food handler certification.

Thanks to our readers for sharing their stories to contribute to this article. Consumers can help protect themselves and their families by following safe food handling practices at home and in public. It starts with you!

I’m Eartha Lowe for Cooking Green Goodness Magazine. Let’s keep in touch! You can also find us on:

Instagram; see beautiful imagery of cooking behind the scenes, mini recipes and more.

Twitter; tweeting about all things food and new discoveries.

Facebook; is the page sharing all things green and how to cook them delicious.

Follow our Magazine.