Reminder: This blog for people who are eating, or who want to eat, a whole food plant based (WFPB) diet, as described by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn in the documentary “Forks Over Knives,” and his book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. For preventing/reversing heart and artery disease, higher fat containing foods are excluded. The food is from these categories: all vegetables except avocado, all legumes, all whole grains and products made from 100% whole grains (no added fats), and all fruits.
For people who do not now have heart disease, fat-containing whole food like avocado and nuts are okay, but for those with known heart disease or those who are at high risk for it, or those who want to be sure they do not get it, avocado and nuts, even though whole and natural, are eliminated due to their fat content. See the References for more sources. For examples of foods in the major categories, visit Dr. Michael Greger’s www.NutritionFacts.org and look for the Daily Dozen. Dr. Greger has the same information in a free mobile app also called Daily Dozen.
After you make your lists of preferred vegetables, fruits, legumes, and grains, decide which ones are amenable to batch cooking.
Preparing foods in batches makes meal preparation easier. They should be foods which
- you have very often (so you use them up before they go bad),
- still taste good after being in the refrigerator for a few days,
- take a fair amount of time to prepare (because time is what you want to save)—like chopped raw onions,
- are versatile and used in different recipes, and/or
- do not keep well raw in the refrigerator for more than a day or so (like mushrooms–cooking makes them more stable).
As an example, here are the foods I prepare in batches:
- No-oil granola
- Greens – Lacinato kale, collards, bokchoy
- Brown rice
- No-oil hummus
- Date paste
- Chopped fresh onion
- No-oil pita bread (bought online from Shiloh Farms)
Here’s what they look like for storage, which, by the way, is only for a few days to a couple of weeks.
Made from Bob’s Red Mill Oats, Organic and Extra Thick, water, real maple syrup, and vanilla. I replaced the oil in a recipe with good ole water. Excellent as a crunchy snack (horse trail mix), or for breakfast with almond milk and berries, and also can be a nice crunchy topping for mixed fresh berries and fruit. Hint: It’s crunchy.
Chopped onion, several cloves of sliced garlic, chopped greens, and about one quart of water or veggie broth. Greens should be included in virtually every savory meal.
We eat rice at almost every meal, so I cook it up one whole bag at a time. One bag makes 4.5 quarts of brown rice (three of which are shown here). Yeah, that was last week. Turns out, we weren’t eating it fast enough, and the last jar had to feed the disposal. So now I make four cups of dry rice, which makes about three quarts of cooked rice. You will tailor it to your family size, or to how much you love rice!
One can of 365 Garbanzo beans makes 2 cups of hummus. No oil or tahini is used, just the beans, lemon juice, cumin, salt, and garlic. Hummus can be a dip with Mary’s Gone Crackers (no refined flours or oil—only seeds and whole grains), baked crispy pita wedges, or veggies (carrots, cucumbers, etc.), or a spread in a sandwich or pita pocket. I recommend not eating real hummus containing tahini and olive oil for about a month, and then making this no-oil healthy variety. After that hummus fast, this tastes pretty good.
I like to cook mushrooms the same day I buy them, or the next day. Then I don’t have to worry about using them before they get yucky. I simmer them in water or veggie broth and store them in the refrigerator in a Mason jar. Fresh ones don’t age well in the fridge. Once they’re cooked, they’re ready to be go into a vegetable stew, mushroom gravy or pasta sauce. Super easy, just rinse them, put them in veggie broth or water, and simmer till done.
Medjool dates and water soaked for an hour, and then pureed in a blender. I slice them lengthwise, open like a book, and pick out the seed easily; dates keep their moisture better if you take the seed out just before soaking. Date paste is SWEET! especially after you haven’t had any processed sugar or junk food for awhile.
Chopped Fresh Onion
Ed volunteered to chop onions, and he does several large onions at a time. I shake from the jar what looks good for a big 6 quart pot of greens, or when heating beans from a can. It saves so much prep time to have them “at the ready”.
A Bought Batch of Bread
The only bread we eat at home is No-oil 100% Whole Wheat Pita Bread from Shiloh Farms; I buy two cases of 12 packs of 6 pitas at a time. I freeze them, and take them out one pack at a time, thaw them on a wire cookie cooling rack on the kitchen counter so they won’t get soggy in the bag, and then re-bag them, using a dry bag (I dry and save the one from the previous package). When the new bag is dry, it gets stored for the next or recycled. Then they go in the “butter” container of the refrigerator (the “snack drawer” holds apples, oranges, and lemons.) It’s fun to re-assign names to areas of the fridge which used to be for meat or dairy, makes you feel like, yeah I’m doing this!
Putting it Together
Here is a random supper that I took a picture of one evening, when a friend texted me “What do you EAT?” as if there were no foods that were not meat, dairy, oil, and sugar. I’m not trying to make the food look beautiful. I’m trying to give you a very realistic picture of what everyday simple plant-based meals look like in our house.
The idea here is to get used to simple plant-based cooking. You are inventing a system that works for you. There are many sources of interesting recipes on the internet, and in books about the WFPB lifestyle if you feel the need, but when I began, I could not imagine making a week of detailed menus.
Fresh corn on the cob, mixed greens with balsamic vinegar (recommended for scientific reasons–interaction of your saliva with the acid in vinegar does good things for the lining of your arteries), red kidney beans with onions over brown rice. Eat till you’re satisfied! No portion control or calorie counting here! All the protein you need!
Where does she get her protein for all that muscle formation??? Just sayin’.
There will be several future posts with the directions for making these batches: granola, greens, rice, hummus, date paste.