Which Legume Packs The Biggest Antioxidant Punch?

Molecules called free radicals can not only contribute to the aging process, but they may also may play a significant role in diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. However, antioxidants in food are chemicals that help to stop or limit the damage caused by these nasty free radicals. We know that legumes (beans, peas etc) are pretty rich in antioxidants, but which takes the top prize for providing us with the most? Let’s see…

A 2014 Chinese study 1 compared the following common legumes:

  • pinto beans
  • cowpeas
  • baby lima beans
  • lentils
  • chickpeas
  • small red beans
  • red kidney beans
  • black beans
  • navy beans
  • mung beans

The following chart (borrowed from Dr Greger’s video 2  on this subject from the above study shows the results when comparing for levels of TAC (total antioxidant capacity):

As you can see, chickpeas and lentils lead the pack.

The following chart from the above study shows which legume is best at scavenging up free radicals:

Again, lentils are at the top of the pack. Dr Greger suggests that this might be because of their relatively large surface area – and it’s the outer protective layers where lots of the antioxidants are normally kept.

Final thoughts

So, if you want to get the maximum benefits of the antioxidant power of legumes, pack in those chickpeas and lentils to your heart’s content – quite literally!

There are plenty of green light recipes for lentils on the internet, including some on my list of recipes ideas: in Side Dishes  – Lentil Crispies; in Soups and Stews:  Moroccan Lentil Soup, Brown Lentil Soup, Easy Kale & Lentil Soup, Lentil & Tomato Stew, Curried Red Lentil Soup, Brown Lentil Stew With Corn and Green Peas, Butternut Squash Soup with Lentils, Lentil Stew with Braised Greens, Curried Red Lentil & Sweet Potato Soup; in Mains – Lentil and Cauliflower Rice Tacos, Savoury Vegan Lentil Loaf. Add them to any meal, especially curries.

And green light recipes abound for chickpeas: in Breakfasts – Chickpea Omelette; in Salads –  Tu-no Salad Wraps, Quinoa & Chickpea Salad, Perfect Chickpea Salad; in Soups and Stews – Moroccan Red Lentil Soup, Hearty Red Bean & Chickpea Stew, Squash & Chickpea Stew; in Mains – Chickpea Dhal, Chickpea Curry with Asparagus & Mushrooms, S & Y’s Chilli with….vegetables!! ,or simply in that staple, stand-by essential, good old houmous/humus/hummus – no matter how you spell it, just have lashings of it in your fridge ready for adding to all sorts of meals, or just spreading it out on baked potatoes and bread, or scooping it out with celery sticks.

This is one of the joys of eating WFPB diets – you can eat as much as you want of the good stuff without causing any side effects other than good health!

Cheers!


References

  1. Zhao Y, Du SK, Wang H, Cai M. In vitro antioxidant activity of extracts from common legumes. Food Chem. 2014;152:462-6. []
  2. Benefits of Lentils and Chickpeas. Michael Greger M.D. FACLM August 10th, 2018 Volume 43 []

Selected WFPB Recipes #2

Following on from Selected WFPB Recipes #1 1 , we’ll look here at a few really useful sauces and spices that you can make in the certain knowledge that all the elements are what Dr Greger calls “green light” ingredients – that is, they are completely healthy and you can basically eat as much of them as you want, with the only side-effect being good health!

Talking of Dr Greger, the following are taken from his book “The How Not To Die Cookbook” 2 , and since he is one of those guys you can really trust 100% to provide only the healthiest of recipes, I have not altered them at all.

Dr Greger’s Umami Sauce 3 

There’s something unique about this sort of flavour. Umami (/uˈmɑːmi/, from Japanese: うま味 – umai means ‘delicious’, and mi means ‘taste’) can be interpreted loosely as meaning “savoury taste“, and is one of the five basic tastes (with sweetness, sourness, bitterness, and saltiness). It’s the sort of flavour broths and cooked meats provide. Dr Greger’s umami sauce mimics this taste, but without the attendant toxic elements that cooked meats, etc bring along with them.

It can be used in sautés, stir-fries etc to boost flavour without needing to inflict your bloodstream with all that sodium soy sauce contains.

Makes around 1 ¼ cups / 280 g.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup/ 250 ml vegetable stock/broth (made from the water left over from boiling your favourite vegetables – just store it in a sealed container in the refrigerator for future use) – see below for a delicious vegetable stock recipe
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
  • 1½ teaspoons date syrup (See below for Dr Greger’s recipe) or date sugar
  • ½ teaspoon tomato purée
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1½ teaspoons white miso paste (available at Holland & Barrett 4 , Sainsbury’s 5 , Waitrose 6 , etc)  blended with 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons blended peeled lemon (see below for Dr Greger’s suggestion)
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar (you can use other types of vinegar as you wish, although rice vinegar is ideal)

Method

  • heat the broth in a small saucepan over medium heat
  • add garlic and ginger and simmer for 3 minutes
  • stir in molasses, date syrup, tomato purée and black pepper and bring just to a boil
  • reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 minute
  • remove from heat, and stir in the miso mixture, blended lemon and rice vinegar.
  • taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed
  • allow to cool before transferring (for future use) to a jar or bottle with a tight-fitting lid or pour the sauce into an ice cube tray

Dr Greger’s Vegetable Stock

This is a really useful item to keep in the fridge and freezer to form the basis of so many meals. Of course, you could use ready-made vegetable broths, bouillon, stock cubes/pots , but they usually have lots of added salt. For instance,  Knorr vegetable stock cubes 7 contain 42.% salt; Marigold Vegetable Bouillon 8  contains 44.6% salt; and even Bisto Vegetable Gravy Granules 9 contain 14.21% salt. Kallø Very Low Salt Organic Vegetable Stock Cubes 10 are one of the better options if you have to buy commercially-prepared vegetable stock, as they only contain 0.1% salt. If you come across a zero-added salt commercially available vegetable stock, please let me know.

Makes around 6 cups / 1.3 litres
Ingredients
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 carrot, cut into 1-inch/ 2.5 cm pieces
  • 2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 dried mushrooms
  • ⅓ cup/ 10 g coarsely chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons white miso paste
  • savoury spice blend (see below)

Method

  • in a large pan, heat 1 cup/ 250 ml of water over medium heat
  • add onion, carrot, celery and garlic and cook for 5 minutes
  • stir in mushrooms, parsley and black pepper
  • add 7 cups/ 1.6 litres of water and bring to a boil
  • reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 ½ hours
  • let cool slightly and then transfer to a high-speed blender and blend until smooth
  • return blended broth back to the pan
  • ladle about ⅓ cup/ 80 ml of the stock into a small bowl or cup
  • add the miso paste and stir well before incorporating back into the rest of the stock
  • add the savoury spice blend to taste
  • let broth cool to room temperature
  • divide among containers with tight-sealing lids and store in the refrigerator or freezer
  • properly stored, it will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer

Dr Greger’s date syrup 11

In one of Dr Greger’s videos 12 , he makes it clear that date sugar is the healthiest sweetener you can add to food. Date sugar is actually just dried, pulverised dates which can be used as a whole-food, granulated sugar. And by the way, he also points out that blackstrap molasses is a good choice for a healthy liquid sweetener, but warns that it does have a strong and sometimes overpowering flavour. The following date syrup recipe is his DIY date syrup that I think hits that sweet spot.

Makes about 1.5 cups / 370 ml

Ingredients

  • 1 cup/ 175 g pitted dates
  • 1 cup/ 250 ml boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon blended peeled lemon (see recipe below)

Method

  • combine dates and hot water in a heatproof bowl
  • set aside for 1 hour to soften the dates
  • transfer dates and water to a high-speed blender
  • add lemon and blend until smooth
  • transfer to a glass jar or other airtight container with a tight-fitting lid
  • store syrup in the refrigerator for up to 2 to 3 weeks

Dr Greger’s blended peeled lemon 13

Some of the nutritional benefit of whole lemons (or limes, for that matter) is lost if you just use the juice and not the whole lemon (excluding the peel, of course). This simple method of adding that citrus zing is the most wholesome you’ll find.

Make as much as you want by adding more lemons and/or limes.

Ingredients

  • whole lemon/s (or lime/s)

Method

  • peel off the skin and pith so that only the juicy fruit inside remains (if you wish, retain some of the chopped peel to flavour dishes)
  • blend the whole fruit/s
  • use immediately, or
  • store in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze in 1-teaspoon portions – a small silicone ice cube tray is ideal for this, then you can grab a cube from the freezer whenever you need it

Dr Greger’s savoury spice blend 14

I use this one a lot in all sorts of meals – soups, stews, burgers, stir-fries, etc. It’s a great alternative to using salt to flavour dishes and, as with each of these recipes, all the ingredients are good for you.

Makes about ½ CUP/ 125 g

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast  (careful if you have Crohn’s disease 15 )
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder (not onion salt)
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder (not garlic salt)
  • 2 teaspoons mustard powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika (I personally use the smoked paprika)
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon celery seeds (not celery salt)

Method

  • combine all ingredients in a spice grinder or blender
  • mix well
  • pulverise dried herbs and spices
  • transfer the blend to a shaker bottle or jar with a tight-fitting lid
  • store in a cool, dry place.

Final thoughts

If you are someone who is concerned about eating the healthiest of foods, then you probably spend time trawling the internet looking for recipes. Many of the vegan and vegetarian recipes tend to include ingredients that are not optimally healthy (added salt, sugar and oils, for instance); however, Dr Greger’s cookbook   ((The How Not To Die Cookbook, Dr Michael Greger.)) can be relied on to provide what you’re looking for. His cookbook also provides lots of additional nutrition information and is an essential addition to any serious WFPB cook’s bookshelf. I have a physical copy and a Kindle copy so that I can get to the recipes wherever I am without having to carry the book around with me.


References

  1. Selected WFPB Recipes #1 []
  2. The How Not To Die Cookbook, Dr Michael Greger. []
  3. Not To Die Cookbook: Over 100 Recipes to Help Prevent and Reverse Disease (Kindle Locations 478-496). Pan Macmillan. Kindle Edition. []
  4. H&B Yutaka Organic Miso Paste 300g []
  5. Sainsbury’s Yutaka Miso Paste, Organic 300g []
  6. Waitrose’s Waitrose Cooks’ Ingredients white miso glaze 200g []
  7. Knorr Vegetable Stock Cubes 8 X 10G []
  8. Marigold Vegetable Bouillon []
  9. Bisto Vegetable Gravy Granules []
  10. Kallø Very Low Salt Organic Vegetable Stock Cubes []
  11. Greger, Michael. The How Not To Die Cookbook: Over 100 Recipes to Help Prevent and Reverse Disease (Kindle Locations 442-444). Pan Macmillan. Kindle Edition. []
  12. The Healthiest Sweetener. Michael Greger M.D. FACLM August 28th, 2009 Volume 3 []
  13. Greger, Michael. The How Not To Die Cookbook: Over 100 Recipes to Help Prevent and Reverse Disease (Kindle Locations 451-454). Pan Macmillan. Kindle Edition. []
  14. Greger, Michael. The How Not To Die Cookbook: Over 100 Recipes to Help Prevent and Reverse Disease (Kindle Locations 456-467). Pan Macmillan. Kindle Edition. []
  15. Nutritional/Brewer’s Yeast & CD []

Selected WFPB Recipes #1

In this blog, I just want to share some new recipes with you (also added to the Recipes 1 pages). They come from the T Colin Campbell Center for Nutritional Science website 2 . Although there are lots of other recipes there which I would recommend you check out, they are not all quite up to the non-SOS WFPB standard to which, for better or worse, I adhere. I hope you are able to try some of them out and let me know your thoughts…

You’ll find below a breakfast suggestion, then a couple of main courses with side dishes and a dessert. As with all recipes from the U.S., measurements tend to be in cups. I would suggest you use a normal sized coffee mug for all these recipes rather than worry about weighing everything. However, if you want to do the conversions, there’s a website 3 that does easy conversions for you from cups to grams for a wide range of foods.

For Breakfast

Guilt-Free Chocolate Granola

Ingredients

  • Dry ingredients
    • 8 cups rolled oats
    • 2 Tbsp sliced almonds (optional)
    • 2 Tbsp chopped walnuts
    • Dried fruit – unsweetened cherries, raisins
    • ¼ – ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 cup freeze dried fruit – strawberries, mango, and/or banana (optional)
  • Wet ingredients
    • 3 ripe bananas or 2 cups of mango
    • 1 cup soft pitted dates
    • ½ cup water
    • 1 tsp best quality vanilla extract or a scraped vanilla pod

Method

  • Combine dry ingredients (except freeze-dried fruit) in a large bowl
  • Put wet ingredients into a blender and blend
  • Spoon out blended wet ingredients onto the dry ingredients in the bowl and mix together well
  • Spread out on a non-stick backing tray (I would recommend a silicone sheet 4 )
  • Bake for around 8 hours at 170 degrees F / 75 degree C (lowest possible setting on a gas cooker)
  • Switch off oven and leave in oven to completely dry and cool
  • Break into desired size of granola chunks
  • Put granola in a bowl and mix in the freeze-dried fruit
  • Store in an airtight container and enjoy whenever you want

Main courses (lunch or dinner) #1

Spaghetti & Mushroom Balls

Ingredients

  • Mushroom balls
    • 3 cups of Portobello or button mushrooms
    • ¾ cup of pecans
    • 3 Tbsp of rolled oats
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 2 Tbsp tahini
    • 1 tsp ground cumin
    • 1 tsp dried oregano
    • 1 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
  • Sauce
    • 1 onion, diced
    • 2 tsp dried oregano
    • 1 red pepper, diced
    • 1 green pepper, diced
    • 2 14 oz cans of diced tomatoes
    • 3 Tbsp tomato paste

Method

  • Mushroom balls
    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F / 170 degrees C / gas mark 4
    • Put pecans and oats into a food processor and process until the pecans are chopped
    • Add garlic, mushrooms, tahini, cumin, oregano and chilli flakes
    • Process until well combined and nearly smooth
    • Roll mixture into small balls and place on a silicone (or non-stick) baking tray
    • Put in the oven and bake for approximately 20 mins or until firm to the touch
  • Sauce
    • Saute onion in a little water until soft 5
    • Add oregano and tomato paste and stir well
    • Add diced tomatoes and peppers
    • Simmer for 20 mins
  • Spaghetti
    • Use a whole grain spaghetti or, better still, try out a vegetable spaghetti or “courgetti” (made from gently steamed spiralled courgette – see here 6 for instructions

Main courses (lunch or dinner) #2

Deli-style Tuna Salad Sandwich with Cashew Mayo

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cashews, soaked in water overnight then drained
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup + 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 Tbsp capers, drained
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 6 slices whole grain vegan bread

Method

This recipe makes makes approximately ¾ cup mayo, more than needed for this recipe, but it means you can keep extra on hand for your favourite sandwiches

  • Blend cashews, garlic, vinegar, water in high-speed blender until smooth and creamy
  • Mix chickpeas, ⅓ cup of the cashew mayo, and capers in a food processor until creamy, resembling tuna fish
  • In a mixing bowl, combine chickpea mixture with celery, salt, and pepper, and stir by hand until completely combined
  • Spread mixture onto three slices of bread. Top with the remaining slices

Side dish #1

Caramelised Smoky Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients

  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 ½ lbs Brussels Sprouts
  • Black pepper
  • 1 cup water

Method

  • Preheat a wide pan over high heat. Cast-iron is ideal
  • Peel, halve, and thinly slice the red onion
  • When pan is very hot, add red onion in a single layer then add smoked paprika on top
  • Leave onions to brown for about 5 minutes
  • Meanwhile, trim the bottoms from the Brussels Sprouts and cut in half. Remove outer leaves
  • When onions start to brown, stir and continue cooking until well-browned (another 5 minutes or so)
  • Move onions to the side of the pan
  • Add halved Brussels sprouts and spread as close to a single layer as possible. Allow them to char for a couple of minutes before stirring
  • When Brussels are brown on one side, stir and continue cooking until all of them have a little bit of colour. Stir frequently to prevent burning.
  • After about 5 minutes, add 1 cup of water to the Brussels. The steam should finish cooking them. If they are bigger, though, they might take longer so add more water to prevent burning
  • Season with pepper and serve hot

Side dish #2

Hearty Kale Salad

Ingredients

  • 4 cups finely chopped kale
  • 1 ½ cups cooked brown rice
  • ½ medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped peanuts
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • Tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp water
  • Black pepper

Method

  • Remove the leafy part of the kale from the stalk and chop into tiny pieces. Then massage by rubbing the kale leaves together between your fingers until they start to wilt
  • Stir together the kale, brown rice, onions, tomatoes and peanuts in a large salad bowl
  • Stir together the lemon juice, water, vinegar and black pepper. Drizzle over the salad. Taste and if needed, add more lemon juice and/or pepper

For Dessert

1.Vegan Chocolate Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 3 frozen bananas
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa or cacao powder
  • ¼-½ tsp ground cinnamon

Method

  • Put frozen bananas and almond milk in a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth
  • Add cocoa/cacao powder and cinnamon. Blend until well blended
  • Put in the freezer for 15-20 minutes
  • Serve and enjoy

Finally

Because all these recipes are plant-based, they can keep well in the fridge and act as both excellent left-over meals and ready-made ingredients that can incorporated into other meals.

I hope you found some of these recipes interesting and useful. There are lots more on my Recipes 1  page. Keep cooking and keep healthy!


References

  1. WFPB: Recipes [] []
  2. CNS Website []
  3. Cups to Grams Converter []
  4. Tip 14. Use silicone and non-stick cookware []
  5. Butter, Shortening, Fats and Oils []
  6. Ideas for making vegetable spaghetti or courgetti []

8 Super Quick WFPB Cooking Tips

The following eight very short ‘Tip of the Day’ videos come to you from team members of the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.

“What I have for breakfast”
by Dr Thomas Campbell (2:29 mins)

“I like to make large batches of wholegrains”
by Jenny Miller (32 secs)

“I discovered sweet potato toast about a year ago”
by Jill Edwards

“I try to incorporate beans into my diet on a daily basis”
by Jill Edwards (56 secs)

“I get a lot of questions about what people should put on their salads”
by Dr Thomas Campbell (56 secs)

“Eat you salads”
by Kathy Polllard (1:17 mins)

I discovered a delicious marinade for sweet potatoes”
by Jill Edwards (49 secs)

“Cereals and oatmeal are great options for breakfast,
but sometimes you just want something a little different”
by Jill Edwards (41 secs)

Over to you

I hope there was something of use for you in this small selection of short videos. If you have any useful cooking/menu tips that you would like to share, please let me know and we can share them with other readers.

By the way, if you’re looking for WFPB cookery books, have a look on my books webpage 1 for links to some excellent resources.


Comment


References

  1. WFPBdiet.com: Books []

Great Spices for a WFPB Diet

These are 15 spices and flavourings that you might find useful for creating amazingly flavourful and healthy plant-based dishes. They are listed in no particular order and they represent only a small selection of the wide range of wonderful spices that nature has made available to us lucky humans. Here we go!

1. Italian Seasoning is a mixture of oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme, and garlic. It’s used in pasta dishes, lasagne, tomato sauce, spaghetti, and many other dishes.

2. Garlic Powder is a must! It gives dishes a slight garlic flavour without the texture, so disperses well in liquids like salad dressings and sauces. I personally prefer to use fresh most of the time, but I also use the dried garlic powder for certain dishes and when I’m in a rush.

3. Onion Powder can be really useful. Of course it will never replace the role of fresh onions, with all their amazing phytonutrients, but it has a prominent role to add flavour to all kinds of dishes and sauces. Like garlic powder, it needs to be keep really dry, otherwise it clumps and becomes unusable.

4. Paprika (and smoked paprika) is made from dried fruits of the chilli pepper family. It adds spice and heat to any meal.

5. Peppercorns – black, white, green, and pink. There are few dishes I make that don’t have peppercorns included. Remember that black peppercorns massively multiply the cancer-protecting effect of turmeric 1 .

6. Turmeric is from the ginger family and has its origins in India. Orange-yellow in colour (and almost impossible to get off clothing – so be careful!), this is used every day in our household because it is one of the wonder foods 2 3 .

7. Tarragon has a unique flavour that easily dominates other flavours, so it’s best to use it sparingly. It does well with artichokes, carrots, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, salads, and spinach. Good for adding to veggie broths.

8. Cayenne pepper has a kick! Put it in sauces, dips, etc. As with virtually all herbs and spices, it also has many health benefits 4

9. Chilli Powder is the dried, pulverised fruit of the chilli pepper. This is a powerful and healthy 5 additive to dishes, although you need to be careful that you don’t add too much, unless you like it really hot…

10. Cumin is used from the east Mediterranean to India. It adds an earthy warm feeling to many soups and stews. It also has many medicinal purposes 6 .

11. Steak Seasoning is one spice that I am sure you will be surprised to find here. However, you will see that it’s made from grinding black pepper, paprika, kosher salt, granulated garlic, dill seed, coriander seed, and red pepper flakes. It works so well when added to any tomato dish. It’s also great with baked potatoes, hash browns, steamed veggies, rice, and almost any dish that you want to add that extra punch of flavour.

12. Bay Leaf is lovely when added to anything that’s boiled – veggie broth, soups, stews. Apparently, it’s not true that it’s poisonous 7 8  ; but you don’t want to leave it in a finished meal since it will be really chewy!

13. Nutritional Yeast is a seasoning I use every day, one way or another.  It adds a nutty, cheesy flavour to everything, from pastas, sauces, dips, baked potatoes, and many other dishes. It can be bought with or without vitamin fortification (B12 is a mainstay – although it always comes as an additional, and controversial, folic acid) 9 .

14. Pure Vanilla  is more accurately called a flavouring than a spice, but it’s a flavourful addition to many WFPB desserts.

15. Various sauces. These are not strictly spices, but they are able to spice up any meal. Bragg’s Amino Acids, low-salt soy sauce, low-salt tamari, and vegan Worcestershire sauce. These all add a distinct and robust flavour to many recipes.

Ral el Hanout

A reader wrote in to give a recipe for a delicious Moroccan spice mixture called Ras el Hanout. You can mix it yourself:

  • 1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp pepper seeds
  • 4 cloves
  • 6 pieces allspice (pimento)
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp anise

Grind everything to a very fine powder and enjoy.

Final thoughts

This is by no means a definitive list of spices and spicy additions that can make meals more yummy; but the nice thing is that we are using the power of natural foods to both ramp up that flavour as well as to promote healing within the body.

Keep that spice rack filled up!


References

  1. Best way to get your daily turmeric fix. []
  2. Turmeric Proven To Fight Cancer & Diabetes []
  3. Dr Greger: Turmeric. []
  4. Cayenne Pepper for Irritable Bowel Syndrome & Chronic Indigestion. Michael Greger M.D. FACLM July 26th, 2013 Volume 14. []
  5. Are Chili Peppers Good For You? Michael Greger M.D. FACLM December 13th, 2010 Volume 4. []
  6. Which Spices Fight Inflammation? Michael Greger M.D. FACLM January 10th, 2014 Volume 16. []
  7. Wikipedia: Bay Leaf []
  8. The toxicologist Today: Is Bay Leaf Poisonous? []
  9. B12 Supplements Are Efficient But Caution With Folic Acid []

Short Videos of Quick & Easy Recipes

It’s sometimes nice to have a video of a recipe being prepared, rather than just viewing it in a cookbook. To that end, here are a few tasty ideas from Dr T Colin Campbell’s CNS 1 (Center for Nutrition Studies). I’ve included a fair number of CNS’s recipes within my Recipe pages 2 , since you can be pretty confident they’re going to be full of nutritional goodness, without the unhealthy elements you often find in other online plant-based recipes.

I’m also giving a nod to Dr Greger’s Daily Dozen since it’s one of the best simple suggestions for maintaining optimal health through diet and exercise. You can get it as an app 3 which reminds you each day to check what you’ve been up to – if, that is, you think you need reminding. Have a peek at Dr Greger’s Daily Dozen video 4 at the end of this blog, if you haven’t already come across it.  His cookbook 5  is also well worth getting…

The Recipe Videos

Ref Potatoes with Greens

Thai Zucchini Noodle Salad With Curry-Lime Dressing

Ensalada Azteca

Stuffed Mushroom Caps

Grilled Eggplant (Aubergine) Sandwich

Vegan Caesar Salad

Black Bean Chili

Broccoli Burritos

Spicy Asparagus in Black Bean Sauce

Oh So Sweet Potatoes


Dr Greger’s Daily Dozen Video


References

  1. Center for Nutrition Studies []
  2. WFPBdiet.com: Recipes []
  3. Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen App []
  4. Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen Checklist. Michael Greger M.D. FACLM September 11th, 2017 Volume 38 []
  5. The How Not to Die Cookbook. Michael Greger, M.D. []

Prescription Nutrition 1 of 4: Green Revolution

This series of four CuriosityStream videos, featuring our darling Dr Michael Greger, provides such as good overview of the health benefits of plant foods, as well as insights into how delicious plant foods can be as central features in our daily meals, that I thought it would be useful to show each video along with a transcript – just so that any useful links can be easier for you to copy and look up at your leisure. Part 1 looks at the power of green veggies.

Prescription Nutrition: 1. Green Revolution – The Video

Prescription Nutrition: 1. Green Revolution – The Transcript

People featured in the video are the narrator Craig SechlerDr Michael Greger, Chef Rich Landau, and Tracye McQuirter MPH. (The person speaking is shown in brackets before the text.) 

(Craig Sechler) The most important thing is to eat real food that grows from the ground.

(Tracye McQuirter) We’ve known for decades that plant-based foods are healthier.

(Dr Michael Greger) The reason people don’t eat more vegetables is that they just don’t realise how powerful they are.

(Chef Rich Landau) Every vegetable in real cooking is about taking a vegetable like a Brussels sprout or a maitake mushroom and making them so incredibly delicious that you realise that cooking is all about flavour.

(Craig Sechler) Food is an intrinsic part of human existence. We come together around food, celebrate around food, and build traditions around food. Despite its fundamental role, our diet is one of the most worrisome aspects of modern life, but after decades of research, there’s hope that we may finally know how to change that.

(Dr Michael Greger) The leading causes of death and disability are largely chronic diseases now; but 80% is completely down to lifestyle – what we expose ourselves to, what we put in our mouths (both cigarettes and food), whether we’re exercising. These are critical components and good news. It means we have tremendous power over our health destiny and longevity. The vast majority of premature death and disability is preventable with a healthy enough diet and other lifestyle behaviours. Medicine is excellent. We’ve got antibiotics. We can put you in a cast. We can take you to emergency surgery.We can slow down your diabetic blindness and kidney failure and amputations with drugs – with insulin injections. But none of these are actually treating the cause of the disease.

(Craig Sechler) Today, mounting evidence points to a plant-based diet – meaning food that grows from the ground – as the best way to prevent, treat and reverse chronic illness. Dr Michael Greger is an author and world-renowned public health expert who’s been highlighting the life-changing power of plants. He and his team review thousands of medical studies each year, and distil them into practical advice for his website nutritionfacts.org.  One of the most comprehensive studies of health and eating habits was the 2005 China Study by Dr T Colin Campbell. A landmark report, it found significantly lower rates of chronic illness throughout rural China where people largely survived on plant-based diets.

(Dr Michael Greger) There are populations around the world which don’t suffer from our epidemics of heart disease and type 2 diabetes and obesity. So if you take someone living in Japan, for example, which has the longest life expectancy, and they move to the US and start eating and living like the US, they get US diseases. And, similarly, if someone moves to Japan from the US, and start eating and living like the Japanese, the rates of these chronic diseases plummet, because these are lifestyle diseases.

(Craig Sechler) Evidence goes as far back as the 1920’s when researchers uncovered a surprising correlation between plant-based diets and blood pressure levels in East Africa.

(Dr Michael Greger)  They took blood pressure from a thousand people living in rural Kenya. They eat a plant-based diet centred around fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, wild greens, and their blood pressures actually go down as they get older, whereas our blood pressures in the Western world go up. The same thing in rural China. 70 year olds with the same average blood pressure as 16 year olds. We’re talking 100/70 their entire lives – ideal blood pressure. Vastly difference diets from East Africa, but what they have in common is that they eat plant-based day-to-day, with meat only eaten on special occasions. In the Western world, the only population getting it down that low (110/70) were those eating strictly plant-based diets.

(Craig Sechler) A reevaluation of the modern diet is underway. Health experts, food advocates, restaurateurs and the average consumer are taking a closer look at what we put in our bodies. Yet even with increasing scientific information available, our dependence on highly processed foods and animal products is a hard habit to break.

(Tracye McQuirter) The only reason that people are not eating more plant-based foods is that the food industry has done a fantastic job with marketing and advertising. 70% of the food industry marketing is for processed foods, refined foods and junk foods. Those are the foods that Americans eat the most. The food industry is the largest industry in the country. Food is very intimate. Food is very emotional. Food is very personal. Food is very social.

(Craig Sechler) Chef Rich Landau has been paving the way for a veggie renaissance from his kitchen at Vedge, a renowned plant-based restaurant thriving in the heart of Centre City Philadelphia – the cheese state capital of the world.

(Chef Rich Landau) Give people great food and they’ll never look at what’s not on the plate. We’re wired to think that we need meat to enjoy our meals. That’s really not the case. It’s about flavour. It’s about what chefs and cooks do to the meat, not about the meat itself. They [shows mushrooms] are loaded with flavour and nutrition. Real cooking is about taking a vegetable like a Brussels sprouts or a maitake mushroom or a carrot, and making them so incredibly delicious that you realise that cooking is all about flavour. It’s all about the preparation. How do you put a carrot in the centre of the plate and convince people that this is worthy of being the focus of the plate? The carrot itself is absolutely delicious when cooked properly, and the texture of it is just hitting home because it’s so beautifully and perfectly cooked. So now you’ve convinced people who are used to seeing carrots only as puree in a soup or raw in a salad that this is worthy of knife and fork food.

(Craig Sechler) Statistics show that most people rarely consume the minimum amount of recommended fruits and vegetables each day. And their continued reliance on processed foods has many experts pushing for a complete rethink of the nutritional advice we’ve been given for the last half century.

(Dr Michael Greger) The reason people don’t eat more vegetables is that they don’t realise just how powerful they are. We have this sort of resonating “eat your greens”, but what’s the science behind it?

(Tracye McQuirter) We’ve known for decades that plant-based foods are healthiest. It’s pretty straightforward. Plant-based foods have fibre. Animal-based foods do not. Fibre is essential for preventing chronic disease and promoting health, and most plant-based foods are high in vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients. They’re the foods that promote health; that help clear our arteries; that help us maintain a normal blood sugar level, help prevent heart disease, help prevent obesity and getting overweight.

(Dr Michael Greger) The most important thing is to eat real food that grows from the ground. Dark green leafy vegetables are the healthiest vegetables – in fact, the healthiest food period, with a great nutrient density than anything else we can put into our mouth. Translating to about a 20% drop in stroke and heart attack risk for each daily serving of greens.

(Craig Sechler) Capitalising on the growing interest for nutritious options, many chefs have been working hard to redefine our relationship with food. Their goal: to create intensely satisfying, crave-worthy combinations that win out over less healthy processed and animal-based options.

(Chef Rich Landau) It’s all about kind of changing your perception of what you’re expecting and what you’re actually getting. How do you actually rewire their brains as to what vegetables are capable of?  Every vegetable is delicious. They’re not a side dish. They’re not torn up little bits in this chopped up little stir fry. They’re the main focus on the plate. Let’s take Swiss chard for example. Something that people see as traditionally very chewy, a little too leafy for most palates. Swiss chard, like most greens, needs to be blanched first with a little salt in it. [I do not recommend adding salt] The greens go in and they come right out. I mean ten seconds, that’s all you really need. That basically sets their colour and texture and tenderises them. The next thing you want to do is to saute very gently with garlic and olive oil in a pan with salt and pepper. [Ditto with olive oil – I don’t recommend using any oils] The trick with the greens is getting them cooked to perfection. If they’re under-cooked, they’re going to be a big chewy, chlorophyll-laden mess that you’re just going to chew like a horse a the table. And you’re just trying to get through this saying to yourself “it’s healthy…it’s healthy”! That’s not how you should be eating your greens. Greens are actually delicious.

(Craig Sechler) In addition to dark leafy greens, research has shown that a high intake of cruciferous vegetables like cabbage and broccoli, can reduce prostate cancer progression, stop the spread of metastatic cancer and prevent DNA damage. One recent study comparing smokers with a high intake of broccoli with smokers eating no broccoli at all, found 20% less damage in the broccoli-eating group.

(Dr Michael Greger) The reason broccoli is so good for us is that any of those cruciferous vegetables, whether we’re talking about cabbage, broccoli, collard greens, kale, have this class of compounds called glucosinolates. What they do is they boost your liver’s detoxifying enzyme systems. So basically, all the blood (before it goes to your body from your digestive tract) first goes through the liver. The liver’s like the body’s bouncer. It keeps out any toxins, detoxifies any carcinogens, and then lets the blood flow to the rest of the body. And so that’s why it’s so critical to eat cruciferous vegetables every single day, because it’s to boost your liver’s ability to detoxify the carcinogens and pollutants from our environment.

(Chef Rich Landau) I absolutely love broccoli. It’s probably my favourite vegetables. We blanch it first, then we char grill it. And broccoli takes on this great smoky flavour when you grill it. The florets get charred up, the stem gets these beautiful char grill marks on them. And then we float this in the shiitake dashi which is a Japanese broth, usually made with fish, but which we make with shiitake mushrooms and seaweed. And the effect is just so beautiful – very smoky, very rich and also very meaty and satisfying.

(Craig Sechler) Whilst dark leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables boast the biggest nutritional bang for the buck, diversifying our vegetable consumption is essential for our overall health. According to the Global Burden of Disease Study, inadequate vegetable intake is a leading dietary risk factor for chronic diseases, comparable in harm to the consumption of processed meats.

(Dr Michael Greger) We should really eat the rainbow when it comes to choosing our vegetables, because many of the anti-ageing, anti-cancer, antioxidants are the plant pigments themselves. So, for example, the beta-carotene that makes the carrots, sweet potatoes and cantaloupes orange, or the lycopene (the red pigment) in potatoes is the same kind of chemical nature of pigment compound that reflects that gorgeous colour. These antioxidant properties can be so helpful within the body.

(Craig Sechler) Eating a diverse plant-based diet raises our exposure to essential nutrients like vitamin C, found not only in citrus fruits but in vegetables like peppers and sweet potatoes. Experts say there may be more than 30,000 different phytonutrients, with a long list of health benefits that are still being discovered. And they’re not just found in the most colourful fruits and vegetables. Some of the most potent nutrients are packed in nature’s palest packages, including cauliflower, onions, garlic and mushrooms. There are over 2,000 varieties of edible mushrooms, and research has shown they are one of the most powerful foods for boosting our immune system, reducing inflammation, and preventing cancer.

(Dr Michael Greger)  Just like there are unique cancer compounds specific to the cruciferous vegetable family, there are these unique compounds in mushrooms like ergothioneine which is an antioxidant amino acid found basically only in the mushroom kingdom. Meaning, if we don’t eat mushrooms, we don’t get it into out diet. It’s found particularly in our retinal tissue and reproductive tissues. It’s basically housed in very sensitive tissues in the body because it has such a cytoprotective or cell protective effect. Eating just plain white button mushrooms can so boost our immune function that it can significantly reduce our risk of common respiratory infections like the common cold.

(Craig Sechler) For chefs like Rich Landau, the incredible variety and richness of mushrooms provides a tremendous opportunity to change people’s perceptions of often overlooked foods.

(Chef Rich Landau) I mean, they’re just incredible. They’re good for you. They’re meaty. They’re just delicious. We love really, really big cuts of mushroom like a maitake or portobello that can stand on their own in the middle of the plate. And again, it’s about that knife and for satisfaction when you’re cutting through it. We have another mushroom that we import from Italy called the nebrodini, and they are these medium-sized white mushroom with this very, very silky flesh to them. So we shave these very thin and cook them in this tomato-basil sauce and we call it Nebrodini Mushrooms As Fazzoletti. Fazzoletti are like little handkerchiefs of pasta. Little tiny squares of pasta swimming in broth or sauce, so actually using the mushrooms  as the pasta and that’s exactly how it eats, and it’s just beautiful what you can do with mushrooms in that sense, because they’re so adaptable. They can do what you want them to do, but you have to listen to what they really are and respect their qualities.

(Craig Sechler) While the rising tide of health problems might seem like an uphill battle, significant progress continues to be made as plant-based foods make their way from farms to our tables. Research, preventive medicine, and awareness all play critical roles when it comes to our health. But the decisions we make on a daily basis continue to be the biggest factor.

(Dr Michael Greger) It doesn’t matter what you eat on your birthday or special occasions or on holidays. It’s really the day-to-day stuff that adds up. On a day-to-day basis, the more we can centre our diets on whole health plant-foods – real food that grows out of the ground – the healthier we will be long-term.

Eating Out on a WFPB Diet Part 1

 

Eating out at restaurants and social gatherings can be a real challenge if you want to stick to the optimal whole food plant-based diet. Much of the time, you’re going to feel alone in a crowd of people – isolated and possibly even a little depressed. Everybody else is celebrating and seems not to give a damn about what they are putting into their bodies – diving into the BBQ’s, relishing the wonderful-smelling roasts, tucking into fabulous-looking cakes and mountains of ice-cream. I can guarantee that it’s unlikely to be easy for you, since to all intents and purposes, you’re an alien in a foreign land.

So what tips are there for surviving eating out with your good intentions still intact?

Call ahead

You can always call ahead before arriving at a restaurant or attending a social event (such as a wedding or birthday celebration), and depending on the type of restaurant or venue, you can usually chat to the chef or person organising the event’s catering. I’ve found that chefs/catering providers often enjoy the challenge. They can get excited about seeing what you think of their culinary creations and really appreciate the fact that you’re asking in advance. Oddly, what frequently happens is that you sit down to your meal, while everybody else is eating what was on the standard menu, and your friends end up remarking about how good the food looks on your plate and wishing they’d had the same!

Most restaurants will have online menus that you can ask questions about before arriving. And even when you are attending some social function, it’s usually possible to get a sneak preview of the caterer’s proposed menu (whether it’s an individual or a catering company).

Eat ahead

However, you will never be certain that the end product is really without dairy, eggs or animal products and you can be pretty confident that, unless you are very clear in your requests, unwelcome oils and salt will creep into the dish. And while you can ask lots of questions and be very precise in your requirements, there are times when the menu simply cannot be changed to accommodate your wishes. At these times, it might be best to eat ahead. Filling your belly with optimally nutritious food before you go out can help you to survive the social/dining event with ease – maybe allowing you to be perfectly satisfied with a salad, piece of fruit or just a drink.

Slipping up on the oil

But a lot of times, what is really hard to avoid is the oil. Even the best vegan or raw food restaurants I’ve come across still pile on the oils – whether in the process of preparing and cooking or as a dressing on salads and veg. I remember that in one expensive vegan restaurant I tried, they were very proud of the fact that the oil in their food – and there was LOTS of it – was non-GMO organic sunflower oil. No matter what type of oil they add, oil is oil; and I’ve noticed that there is always a definite aftertaste when oil has been hidden in the recipe because it weighs heavily on the stomach and lingers in the back of the throat. There’s also a tendency for high-fat products (avocados, coconut and nuts) to be added to recipes in higher amounts than you want. So be prepared, be knowledgeable and don’t be afraid to ask the chef to cut out the oil if at all possible. We live in a world where the standard American diet (SAD) paradigm has naturally been adopted in vegan, vegetarian and even raw food restaurants, where increased amounts of oil, salt, and sugar can be added to make up for what they think is somehow lacking in the dish. In any event, no matter where you go, it’s really wise to avoid ALL deep fried food.

We’re the aliens

We need to be respectful and understanding. We’re the aliens in their world. Unless you’re one of the very few unusual and fortunate WFPB individuals born into a WFPB family, we are all arriving at a plant-based diet from a previous diet (whether omnivorous, vegetarian or vegan) that was sub-optimal. And until we were ready to make the WFPB transition, we would not have liked anyone telling us what we should or should not eat, or making us feel bad because of our food choices. We are the lucky ones. So, be gentle with people who either don’t know about the benefits of the WFPB diet or who have made the personal choice not to run their lives – or their restaurants or catering practices – in accordance with our wishes and what we think is best. It is sadly the case that non-vegan restaurants can often have better choices – sometimes a steak restaurant can at least provide a salad and baked potato.

Eat at home

Another thing to do though is to invite people to your house to eat. When you do this at least you know that you are eating well and that they are will maybe see how it’s possible to eat fabulously tasty and healthy whole plant foods without using highly processed methods or adding animal products, salt, oil or sugar. But ensure that you think and plan in advance. Don’t get stuck for ideas at the last minute. There are so many WFPB recipes here and in countless other places on the internet that you should be able to prepare and present a delightful dining experience that will impress your guests.

So. having decided to dine out…

…you are going to have to make the best of an alien environment…

A Small Selection of Restaurants/Take-Aways (all UK menus)

Colour Coding – I have used Dr Greger’s Traffic Light system (Green – eat as much as you want. Orange – not ideal, so eat rarely, e.g. only on special occasions. Red – avoid altogether.) This is just my opinion. Most of those marked orange are foods that I would personally avoid almost all the time, unless I had not planned ahead, had become desperately hungry and the only alternatives were animal products or grease.

Plant-based alternatives are slowly appearing in the UK (more so in the US), but be aware that the vast majority of restaurant foods you will come across will not be WFPB non-SOS. They are likely to use white flours, sugar, salt and cooking oils. Vegan does not equate to healthy! Only WFPB non-SOS will provide optimal nutrition.

With certain menu items you can always ask that unwanted ingredients are kept out of your meal.

Anyway, here goes with the vegan options available at a small selection of foodie outlets (Pret A Manger appears to be the best of the bunch).

  McDonald’s (UK)

BREAKFAST

  • Hash Brown
  • Pineapple Stick
  • Carrot Sticks
  • Fruit Bag

SANDWICHES (BURGERS)

  • Spicy Vegetable Deluxe – order this without the mayo as it contains egg
  • Vegetable Deluxe – order this without the mayo as it contains egg

SIDES/EXTRAS

  • French Fries
  • Carrot Sticks

DESSERTS

  • Fruit Bag

SAUCES

  • Heinz Tomato Ketchup
  • Spicy Tomato Salsa
  • Sweet Chilli Sauce/Dip
  • BBQ Dip – don’t get this confused with Smokey BBQ Dip, which contains honey
  • Sweet & Sour Dip
  • Sweet Curry Dip

The above fried products are cooked in a dedicated fryer. Dedicated colour-coded tongs and trays are used for Veggie products and the procedures used to make the Spicy Veggie Wrap [Spicy Vegetable Deluxe] and Spicy Veggie Sandwich [Vegetable Deluxe] are approved by the Vegetarian Society.
Please note: this is for UK McDonald’s only! Around the world ingredients change, and some products have meat as flavouring – e.g. fries and hash browns!

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 Pizza Hut (UK)

PIZZA

  • Pan Dough
  • All American Thin Dough
  • Gluten Free Dough
  • Flatbread dough
  • Tomato Sauce
  • BBQ Sauce
  • Vegan Alternative to Cheese (Violife)

SALAD BAR

  • Lettuce Mix
  • Mixed Peppers
  • Red Onion
  • Sweetcorn
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Shredded Carrot
  • Apple
  • Bacon Bits (bacon-like flavouring)
  • Croutons
  • Tortilla Chips
  • Crispy Onion
  • Sultanas
  • Pickled Beetroot
  • Undressed Slaw

TOPPINGS

  • Black Olives
  • Mixed Peppers
  • Mixed Peppers
  • Mushrooms
  • Red Onions
  • Sweeetcorn
  • Green Chillies
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Jalapeños
  • Pineapple
  • Rocket
  • Spinach
  • Roquito® Peppers
  • Caramelised Onions
  • Onion & Pepper Mix

SIDES

Chips/Fries (oven cooked)
Onion Rings (oven cooked)

SAUCES + DIPS

  • Ketchup
  • Ketchup Dip Pot
  • BBQ Sauce
  • BBQ Sauce Dip Pot
  • Sweet Chilli Sauce
  • Sweet Chilli Sauce Pot
  • Hot & Spicy Sauce
  • Hut House Seasoning
  • Low Fat French Dressing
  • Salsa
  • Salad Bar Oils

KIDS

  • Pan Dough
  • Thin Dough
  • Gluten Free Dough
  • Vegetable Sticks

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Subway (UK)

BREADS

  • Hearty Italian
  • 9-Grain Wheat
  • Italian

SUBS

  • Veggie Delite – without cheese

SAUCES

  • Barbeque Sauce
  • Sweet Chilli Sauce
  • Hot Chilli Sauce
  • Sweet Onion Sauce
  • Yellow Mustard
  • Brown Mustard
  • Ketchup
  • HP Sauce

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Costa Coffee (UK)

COLD DRINKS (Coffee-based, ideally with unsweetened soy milk)

  • Iced Americano
  • Iced Cappuccino with Soy Milk
  • Iced Chai Latte with Soy Milk
  • Iced Chocolate with Soy Milk
  • Iced Cortada with Soy Milk
  • Iced Espresso Macchiato with Soy Milk
  • Iced Espresso
  • Iced Speciality Latte Caramel with Soy Milk (caramel syrup – 80% sugar)
  • Iced Speciality Latte Sugar Free Caramel Syrup with Soy Milk 
  • Iced Speciality Latte Cinnamon with Soy Milk
  • Iced Speciality Latte Gingerbread with Soy Milk
  • Iced Speciality Latte Sugar Free Gingerbread Syrup with Soy Milk
  • Iced Speciality Latte Roasted Hazelnut with Soy Milk
  • Iced Speciality Latte Vanilla with Soy Milk
  • Iced Latte with Soy Milk
  • Iced Mocha Cortado with Soy Milk
  • Iced Mocha with Soy Milk
  • Iced Mocha Latte with Soy Milk
  • Iced Ristretto

OTHER COLD DRINKS

  • Peach Lemonade
  • Lemonade
  • Peach Iced Tea
  • Lemon Iced Tea
  • Blackberry And Raspberry Fruit Cooler (around 55 g sugar in each serving!)
  • Mango And Passion Fruit Cooler  (around 55 g sugar in each serving!)
  • Tropical Fruit Cooler (around 55 g sugar in each serving!)

HOT DRINKS

  • Cortada with Soy milk
  • Mocha Italia Espresso
  • Old Paradise Espresso
  • Decaff Espresso
  • Macchiato with Soy Milk
  • Soy Babyccino without flake and marshmallow
  • Flat White with Soy milk
  • Cappuccino with Soy Milk
  • Cafe Latte with Soy Milk
  • Americano with no milk or Soy Milk
  • Mocha Latte with Soy Milk
  • Hot Chocolate with Soy Milk
  • Mocha with Soy Milk
  • Chai Latte with Soy Milk
  • Caramel Cappucino with Soy Milk
  • Vanilla Latte with Soy Milk
  • Caramel Latte with Soy Milk
  • Roasted Hazelnut Latte with Soy Milk
  • All Herbal Teas
  • Tea with Soy Milk

SNACKS

  • Lightly Sea Salted Crisps
  • Sea Salt And Cider Vinegar Crisps
  • Sweet Chilli And Red Pepper Crisps
  • Mixed Root Vegetable Crisps
  • The Fruity Crumble (38% sugar)

Nutritional details on all Costa Coffee items.

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Pret A Manger (UK)

  • Acai & Almond Butter Bowl (sliced banana, gluten-free granola and acai berry puree, topped with shredded apple, pomegranate seeds and almond butter)
  • Acai Super Berry (fresh bananas, strawberries and mango blended with coconut water, acai and ice)
  • Almond Protein Power (fresh banana blended with date, almond butter (which is packed with protein), chocolate powder, almond milk and ice)
  • Apple
  • Apple & Almond Butter Bowl (crisp, green apple wedges with a generous dollop of almond butter)
  • Artichoke, Olives & Tapenade (roasted red peppers and cherry tomatoes tapenade topped with Kalamata olives and grilled artichoke hearts. Finished off with fresh basil leaves)
  • Avo & Super-Greens Veggie Pot (avocado, peas, edamame and coriander with a sprinkling of sesame seeds and served with a pot of our zingy green dressing)
  • Avo, Olives & Toms (sliced avocado with Kalamata olive tapenade, roasted tomatoes and a handful of peppery rocket. Finished with fresh basil leaves and a sprinkling of toasted pine nuts)
  • Avocado & Beans Toasted Tortilla (sliced avocado on a layer of red tapenade topped with whole-leaf basil and Pret’s baked beans. Finished with a squeeze of lemon juice and seasoning)
  • Avocado & Chipotle Chickpeas Salad Wrap (avocado, chipotle chickpeas and charred corn & black bean salsa topped with fresh coriander and mixed salad leaves)
  • Avocado & Falafel Flat Bread (freshly sliced avocado with sweet potato falafels, red onion and tomatoes. Finished with a handful of baby spinach, parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice)
  • Banana
  • Berry Blast (handful of raspberries, chopped mango and blackberries. Our baristas then whizz this in a blender with a splash of apple juice. Made with 100% real frozen fruit. Freshly blended)
  • Blueberry Protein Power
  • Butternut Squash Dhansak Soup (butternut squash dhansak with green lentils, mung beans and yellow split peas. Lightly spiced with turmeric, coriander and cumin with a hint of chilli)
  • Cauli & Sweet Potato Dhal Hot Pot (coconut dhal with chunks of roasted sweet potato, roasted cauliflower and baby plum tomatoes. Topped with fresh spinach, toasted seeds and a lemon wedge)
  • Chakalaka Wrap (spicy African-inspired chakalaka beans with red pepper, roasted butternut squash and baby spinach. Finished with a dollop of dairy-free coconut yoghurt alternative)
  • Chocolatey Dairy-Free Coconut Bite (crushed coconut coated in dark chocolate)
  • Coconut Water (made from 100% natural coconut water)
  • Coke Bottle Zero
  • Cranberry & Raspberry Pure Pret Still (still cranberry and raspberry flavoured juice drink)
  • Crisped Kale (with rosemary and cold-pressed olive oil)
  • Curried Chickpeas & Mango Chutney (lightly-spiced curried chickpeas combined with spring onions, raisins, red peppers and our sweet mango chutney. Finished with a handful of spinach leaves and fresh coriander)
  • Dairy-Free Bircher (gluten-free granola and dairy-free coconut yoghurt alternative, this twist on a bircher muesli has apple, pomegranate seeds and berry compote)
  • Dairy-Free Chocolate Chia Pot (a rich and creamy vegan chia pot combining soaked chia seeds, dairy-free coconut yoghurt alternative and a dark chocolate sauce topped with fresh blueberries and pomegranate)
  • Falafel Mezze (herby falafel and roasted butternut squash with our red pepper tapenade and humous. Finished with a sprinkle of mixed seeds and a pot of Dijon dressing)
  • Falafel, Avo & Chipotle Flat Bread (sweet potato falafel and avocado with a dollop of chipotle ketchup. Topped with pickled onions, red peppers, fresh coriander and charred corn & black bean salsa)
  • Falafel, Coconut & Cashew Flat Bread (sweet potato falafel, cucumber, red pepper and spinach with sambal sauce, fresh coriander and mint. Finished with roasted cashew nuts for a satisfying crunch)
  • Flat Bread
  • Fresh Ginger (finely shredded fresh ginger)
  • Green Tea & Peach Pure Pret Still
  • Humous & Crunchy Veg salad Wrap (a generous dollop of Pret’s humous with pickled onions and fresh coriander. Topped with sliced red pepper, crunchy cucumber sticks and a handful of baby spinach)
  • Kale, Lentil & Roasted Spices Soup (a lightly spiced lentil soup with hints of cumin, coriander and smoked paprika. Simmered with red lentils, curly kale and lemon zest for a hearty vegan soup)
  • Lemon & Ginger Pure Pret Still
  • Lightly Spiced Carrot & Coriander Soup (shredded carrots, potato and edamame beans with a delicate mix of spices including ginger, lemongrass and chilli, simmered in coconut cream for a rich finish)
  • Mango & Lime (hand prepared mango with a wedge of lime)
  • Mango Chia Pot (dairy-free coconut yoghurt with chia seeds, diced mango, pomegranate seeds and a dash of apple juice)
  • Mexican Avocado Flat Bread (refried black beans, avocado, a generous serving of charred corn & black bean salsa, tomatoes and fresh coriander in a Pret tortilla wrap)
  • Naked Nuts (a little bag of mixed nuts)
  • Orange & Passion Fruit Pure Pret Still (still orange and passion fruit flavoured juice drink)
  • Peppermint Peace (this tea is a classic peppermint with a hint of spearmint and completely caffeine free!)
  • Porridge Topping – Compote (fabulously fruity compote is made with strawberries, blackcurrants, blackberries, raspberries and redcurrants, slowly simmered in a pan)
  • Pret a Mango (a little bag of chopped, dried mango)
  • Pret’s Coconut Porridge (gluten-free oats and red quinoa simmered in coconut milk to create a rich, creamy porridge that’s dairy-free)
  • Pret’s Fruit Salad (pineapple, melon, mango, apple, kiwis and blueberries)
  • Pret’s Vegan Mac & Greens (tubetti rigati pasta and cauliflower florets mixed with our vegan béchamel sauce. We then add spinach, parsley and finish with a sprinkling of breadcrumbs)
  • Pretzels (plain, poppy seed or sesame)
  • Pure Pret Sparkling Apple (sparkling water mixed with apple juice – and a little grape juice for sweetness)
  • Pure Pret Sparkling Ginger Beer (sparkling water mixed with ginger extracts to provide a satisfying kick!)
  • Pure Pret Sparkling Grape & Elderflower (sparkling water with grape juice and elderflower and a dash of lemon juice and apple)
  • Pure Pret Sparkling Yoga Bunny (sparkling water with grape juice and herbal infusions of Echinacea and Ginseng)
  • Rhubarb Smoothie (rhubarb, Bramley apple and a few blackcurrants. A little ginger adds some warmth. All freshly blended to order)
  • Rice-Coconut Hot Chocolate (organic hot chocolate powder blended with steamed rice-coconut milk alternative to create a non-dairy treat)
  • Roasted Coconut Chips (little bag is full of coconut chips. They’ve been gently toasted but that’s it – there’s no added salt, sugar or flavourings. Just coconut)
  • Rock Salt Popcorn
  • Rooibos Cacao (Rooibos – African for red bush – is orangey and sweet. This tea is a blend of organic cacao nibs, cinnamon, chicory and coconut)
  • Sea Salt & Cider Vinegar Crisps
  • Sea Salt Crisps
  • Smoked Chipotle Crisps
  • Souper Tomato (chopped, super-ripe plum tomatoes simmered with crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, onion, celery, carrots and rich tomato puree. Finished with olive oil and oregano)
  • Sparkling lemonade 
  • Sparkling Spring Water
  • Still Water
  • Stone Baked Losange Soup Baguette
  • Strawberry & Banana Smoothie (a frozen blended smoothie made with fragrant garden strawberries, banana, apple and tangy lemon. Made with 100% real frozen fruit. Freshly blended)
  • Super Greens (cucumber, ripe avocado, baby spinach and ginger blended with apple juice and ice to make a super green smoothie)
  • Super Greens & Reds (slices of avocado covered with our tapenade made of roasted red peppers and cherry tomatoes. Finished with crunchy red pepper, kalamata olives and a generous handful of spinach)
  • Superfruit Salad (mango, kiwi, pomegranate seeds and blueberries)
  • Super-Veg Rainbow Flat Bread (a layer of sambal sauce with red peppers, carrot slaw, edamame beans, spinach, pickled cabbage & carrot and coriander. Finished with dairy-free coconut yoghurt alternative.
  • Sweet & Salt Popcorn
  • Sweet Potato Falafel & Smashed Beets Veggie Box (turmeric & sweet potato falafel, smashed beets humous, avocado and broccoli on a bed of brown rice & red quinoa. Served with a pot of zingy green dressing)
  • Syrup Shot – Caramel
  • Syrup Shot – Hazelnut
  • Syrup Shot – Vanilla
  • Tamari Pumpkin Seeds (a little bag full of tamari coated pumpkin seeds)
  • Tropical Green tea
  • Turmeric Tonic (organic ginger and turmeric with a touch of lemon and black pepper. A perfect winter warmer)
  • Vegan Brownie (a rich, indulgent and completely vegan chocolate brownie filled with gooey salted caramel)
  • Vegan Ragu & Red Pepper Hot Wrap (this vegan hot wrap is combines our chunky veg & lentil sauce with crunchy red peppers, roasted tomatoes, Kalamata olives and crispy onions) – 2.7 g salt each portion!
  • Vegetable Crisps (thinly sliced carrot, beetroot and parsnip crisps)
  • Vegetable Tagine Soup (roasted courgettes and peppers cooked in vegetable stock with cumin, turmeric, red chilli and cinnamon. Served with tomatoes, chickpeas, buckwheat and red lentils)
  • Veggie Chilli Soup (a trio of beans – black turtle beans, red kidney beans and black eyed beans – peppers, sweetcorn, brown rice and quinoa cooked with ancho chilli, cocoa and jalapenos)
  • Veggie Miso (our new miso is now veggie with a traditional umami flavour and served with wakame. Make it spicy by adding fresh ginger or a shake of chilli flakes) – 2.3 g salt each serving!
  • White Matcha Oolong (a combination of matcha and white tea. Savoury in flavour with a subtle grassy note)

Nutritional details for all the above are available here. N.B. I have taken the precaution of marking as orange anything that is likely to contain higher than ideal levels of salt, oil or sugar. It is worth double-checking first before ordering.  

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Frankie & Benny’s (UK)

BREAKFAST

  • Fresh Fruit Salad
  • Build a Breakfast – create your own breakfast with baked beans, herb potatoes, toast (no butter), hash browns, fries
  • Mango and Passion Fruit Smoothie
  • Strawberry, Apple, and Raspberry Smoothie

STARTERS

  • Bruschetta Napoli
  • Dough balls – no dips, just garlic butter (the garlic butter is made up of oil)
  • Garlic pizza bread
  • Marinated Olives
  • Fully Loaded Skins – with no toppings, add something like garlic butter, or have them plain

MAINS

  • Penne Arrabiata
  • Pasta/pasta bakes – be creative and make your own pasta dishes. As long as you use the neapolitan sauce you’ll be fine. The pesto isn’t vegan so just stick with neapolitan. You can add whatever veg you like and even extra garlic
  • Wraps – same as above, be creative and ask for a tomato/tomato and garlic sauce or BBQ sauce. Remember, you can change fries to skins on skewers
  • Pizza/Calzone – the dough is vegan, so again, get creative. Tomato base, garlic butter, BBQ. Add fresh garlic, cajun spices etc
  • Salads – please ask to change the dressing to neapolitan, maybe with garlic or cajun and create a salad. The croutons are also vegan as are the crispy onions

SIDES

  • Fries
  • Sweet Potato Fries
  • House Salad – swap dressing to neapolitan, maybe with garlic or cajun and create a salad
  • Green Vegetables – ask for no butter
  • Corn on the Cob – ask for no butter
  • Jacket Potato – ask for no butter or sour cream
  • Mushrooms – ask for no butter
  • Olives

DESSERTS

  • Sorbet – lemon and/or mango
  • Fruit Salad

KIDS

Starters

  • Mini Garlic Bread
  • 3 Dough Balls
  • Veggie Skewers

Mains

  • Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce
  • Tomato Pasta

Sides

  • Corn on the Cob – no butter
  • Baked Beans
  • Peas
  • Mixed Salad
  • Fries
  • Sweet Potato Fries
  • Baby Baked Potatoes
  • Garlic Bread

Desserts

  • Fresh Fruit
  • Fruit Skewers – with no choco dip
  • Sorbet – lemon and/or mango

I’ve been a bit ruthless with Frankie & Benny’s because the last time I visited there was so much salt in everything that we had to leave the food uneaten. Things may have changed…

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  Toby Carvery (UK)

MAINS

  • Meat-Free, Yorkshire Pudding-Free, Butter-Free Carvery (ask beforehand for veg to be prepared without butter, since otherwise ALL veg have butter added! There is a vegetarian gravy which might be okay, but I have no access to ingredients at the moment)
  • Lentil Cottage Pie (green lentils, carrots and peas slowly cooked in a rich sauce topped with sweet parsnip mash) – I would question what goes into the rich sauce and whether they still add butter to the mash)
  • Butternut Squash Crumble (roasted squash mixed with brown rice, kale and tomato, topped with savoury herb crumble, a coronation squash and almond compote I would double-check that there is no dairy in this)
  • Spiced Carrot & Chickpea Wellington (a flavourful blend of chickpeas, carrots and lentils spiced with crushed chillies, delicately hand-wrapped in wholegrain mustard puff pastry and topped with coronation squash and almond compoteI am unsure about whether there really is any dairy in this. The puff pastry is not ideal)

DESSERTS

Chocolate & Cherry Torte (Moist Belgian chocolate cake sweetened with Bramley apples and cherry compote with Belgian chocolate saucea bit confusing this one. They claim it’s vegan, but Belgian chocolate?! Best to double-check first.)

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Wahaca Mexican Market Eating (UK – Mainly in London)

NIBBLES

  • Tortilla Chips
  • with Guacamole
  • with Tomato Salsa

STREET FOOD

  • Roast Serrano Hummus (topped with hibiscus-roasted aubergine, mint vinaigrette & salsa macha, with crisp corn tostadas)
  • Plantain Tacos (with black beans, marinated cabbage and a sweet & spicy chipotle adobo)
  • Fire-Roasted Cactus & Courgette Tacos (with crushed new potatoestarragon & mint)

SIDES

  • Sweet Potato (crispy fried chunks, dressed with smoky caramelised mojo de ajo)
  • Grilled Summer Corn (with fresh lime & piquin chilli sugar-salt)
  • Rice n’ Beans (green rice blitzed with corianderonion & garlic. Served with black beans)
  • Spicy Slaw (fresh crunchy slaw mixed with our house dressing)
  • Green Salad (mixed salad leaves tossed with diced avocado, topped with toasted pumpkin seeds)

BIGGER FOOD

  • Toasted Corn & Spelt Risotto (Mexican style green risotto with coriander, tarragon and a touch of serrano)
  • Fire-Roasted Cactus & Courgette Burrito (a toasted flour tortilla wrapped around black beans, shredded cabbage & green rice with cactuscourgette & crushed new potatoes, served with a handful of tortilla chips)
  • Sweet Potato Burrito (a toasted flour tortilla wrapped around black beans, shredded cabbage & green rice with mojo de ajo coated sweet potato, served with a handful of tortilla chips)
  • The Sonora Salad With Hibiscus-Roasted Aubergine (avocado, pumpkin seeds, black beans, organic British spelt & Cos lettuce, served in a crispy tortilla bowl)

CHILLI SAUCES

  • Fiery arbol & smoky chipotle sauces

DESSERTS

  • Mango sorbet 

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In Eating Out on a WFPB Diet Part 2 we will take a look at some other common types of restaurant, including Indian, Chinese, Italian and a few other well-known eateries.

All the above items are accurate as of March 2018. It’s likely that restaurants will increase the range of vegan options over the coming months and years; although it may take a lot longer before we find WFPB restaurants on your local high street…

WFPB – Food Substitutions

 

 

Some people make the transition to a WFPBD (whole food plant-based diet) via rather unhealthy processed vegan foods, but this isn’t something I would suggest. So here are some truly healthy substitutions for eggs, dairy, cheese, meat, oil, salt and sugar.

 

Eggs

Depending on whether you need a thickener for savoury or sweet meals, the following provide roughly the same thickening effect as one standard egg:

  • 1 tbsp. ground flax seed in 3 tbsp. water.
  • 2 tbsp. potato starch.
  • ¼ cup / 60 g mashed potatoes.
  • ¼ cup / 60 g canned pumpkin.
  • ¼ cup / 60 g puréed prunes.
  • ½ banana.
  • Crumbled and fried tofu with spices and vegetables can make a “scrambled-like” egg substitute.

When using whole grains in baking, you almost don’t even need an egg substitute because it all naturally binds together. Processed white flours lack so many things and therefore need eggs to bind them together but whole grains seem to bind naturally on their own. Oats are also useful as a binder, and then you’re getting another boost of that healthy whole grain.

Milk

Whether you’re buying plant milk or making your own, you’ll probably find that you have your own taste preference – soya, almond, oat etc. It’s worth trying different brands of the same plant milk since I’ve found they do differ depending on what’s been added to them and the level of concentration of the particular plant used. It’s because of the moderately processed nature of commercially-made milks that I prefer making my own – always without sweetener.

  • Plant milks can be used in cereals, tea or coffee, and in both baking and cooking.
  • To make 1 cup / 250 ml buttermilk, you can add 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup of soya or almond milk.
  • Yogurt can be made with silken tofu.

Cheese

Cheese substitutes can be made from soy, rice, almond, hemp and other ingredients. These are usually highly processed and I suggest they are avoided. The following alone or in combination can work well. Experiment!

  • Nutritional yeast. I get through dozens of tubs of this stuff. It’s sprinkled onto microwaved/boiled/steamed veg, put into stews, soups and sauces, baked and fried meals. I can’t get enough of it – and, best of all, it’s really good for you. (Avoid nutritional yeast if you have Crohn’s disease.)
  • Tofu with spices.
  • Nut butters.
  • Soaked and blended raw cashews and blended with nutritional yeast. (Avoid cashews if you have heart disease.)
  • Miso.
  • Tahini.

Meat

If you really feel the need for a chewy meat-like texture, there are some substitutions that offer some degree of texture but with none of the problems associated with meat but have all the green light healthiness of whole plant foods.
  • Jack fruit is quite expensive but has very meat-like texture. Sample recipe here.
  • Microwaved/sauteed Portabello mushrooms can be used in place of grilled meats, burgers or steaks. Marinating a Portabello mushroom in balsamic vinegar and then cooking it on the grill makes a really nice steak. Also, even ground up, cut up, chopped up mushrooms really give that nice ground beef or a ground meat consistency.
  • Cooked/grilled aubergine (eggplant) is a delicious alternative for Italian dishes and sandwiches.
  • Crumbled Tofu and tempeh (a fermented soybean product) can make good substitutes. Tofu is tasteless on its own, but it can absorb whatever flavours it’s cooked or marinated in.
  • Beans and pulses can add body and texture to meals.
  • Potatoes and other starchy vegetables will always make excellent main dishes.
  • Bulgur wheat can also work well.

In my experience, it’s best not to try and duplicate the texture of meat. The world of plant-based eating is more than sufficiently varied without having to try and reproduce something that was never optimal for our health in the first place – let alone the health of the animals and the environment.

Sugar, Honey & Other Sweeteners

In many recipes the sweeteners can be left out completely. Try it, you’ll be surprised. Sometimes a simple piece of frozen fruit can satisfy a craving for sweets. Here are a few ideas:

  • Home-made apple sauce from pureed apples. You can use as much of this as you want.
  • Pureed or finely chopped dried fruits like dates and raisins work well in both cooking and baking.
  • Shredded coconut. It has a high fat content, so use sparingly.

Butter, Shortening, Fats and Oils

Instead of lining your pan or your pot with oil, line it with vegetable stock – you will start to pick out the nuances of the flavours once you don’t use oil in your diet.

  • Vegetable stocks, water or wine for sauteing or frying.
  • Try baking instead of frying where possible.
  • Salad dressings can be made with a base of vegetable stock, water or vinegar in place of the oil. Adding mustard and spices can make an excellent salad dressing. Blended tofu with a squeeze of fresh lemon can substitute for sour cream or mayonnaise.
  • Date or prune juice are great for baking biscuits, cakes and sweet breads. You can make your own date/prune paste by processing 1 cup / 150 g of dried pitted dates or prunes with 1/2 / 120 ml cup of water. Substitute 1/3 the amount of prune paste for the amount of oil called for in the recipe.
  • Pureed pumpkin, bananas and other fruits will work in some recipes but don’t hold the moisture as well as the prune paste, and they can change the flavour of the finished product.
  • Unsweetened apple sauce works when you are looking for more moisture and is also great for baking.
  • Mashed beans in all sorts of savoury and sweet recipes can add healthy nutrients as well as moisture.
  • Mashed avocado can be used as a butter substitute for sandwiches and baked meals.
  • Hummus is especially good for making sandwiches – adding both taste and moisture.

Salt

It’s best to avoid adding salt to any meals. Indeed, there is no salt in our house at all. Soy sauce or tamari sauce don’t usually get past the front door because of their high salt content. It really doesn’t take long to get used to life without added salt. There are lots and lots of really tasty alternatives, dry and liquid, that you can use – whether you buy them ready-made or make them yourself. I covered much of this here, but the following is a quick summary of alternatives:

  • Granulated spices such as onion powder, garlic powder, dried parsley, etc.
  • Fresh onion, spring onions, garlic, lemon juice, salsa and hot sauces.
  • Nutritional yeast adds a saltiness without the negatives of sodium.
  • Dr Greger’s Savoury Spice Blend is excellent.
  • Mrs Dash makes salt-free alternatives to seasoning mixes and sauces. They’re quite pricey, but worth the effort. As an alternative, why not simply look at the ingredients on the latter products and make some mixes yourself from scratch?
  • All types of vinegar – balsamic and sherry are two of my favourites. They tend to find their way into most savoury meals.
  • Lemon juice.
  • All types of mustard – yellow powder, wholegrain, Dijon. Brilliant in so many savoury dishes.

The above is by no means a comprehensive list of options, but I hope it provides you with at least one or two ideas.

Think of your WFPBD as an exciting voyage of discovery. We all got used to what we were brought up with as children and what we may have been eating for years or decades as adults; but eating the optimal diet for human health need never be boring. With all the thousands of plant combinations that we can make, and the increasing number of exciting WFPB recipes online and in publications, the future looks like a brightly-coloured rainbow of culinary opportunities.

Starting Out – The WFPB Larder

 

Having what you need in your kitchen is a pretty important matter when you transition to the WFPBD (whole food plant-based diet). What’s in yours?  For those starting out on this wonderful journey, here are some tips that are worth repeating.

Pantry

It’s quite possible to make entire meals out of what’s in your pantry. Coming home from a long trip, work, whatever and having nothing in your fridge and nothing fresh readily available, you can still make a delicious meal from your store cupboard, especially when you need something quick and easy to satisfy your hunger pangs.

Dry goods

Dry grains, wholemeal pasta, wholegrain brown/red/wild rice, quinoa, couscous, millet, wheat berries, buckwheat, spelt, oats. rye – the list goes on and on. Fill your pantry with as many different whole grains as you can find; they all can make a great basis for a meal.

Starchy veg

Potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, swede, turnips, celeriac, mooli, squash, etc.

Potatoes in particular are an excellent staple to store in profusion. I buy 25 kg bags at a time from a local farm shop. Potatoes can be pre-cooked and kept in the fridge or freezer. They are quick to microwave and can be eaten hot as a snack or the base of a meal – I even bake them in batches and then take them with me on journeys as quick snacks.

Onions & garlic

Again, I buy 25 kg sacks of onions – white or red varieties, and there are always lots of garlic bulbs lining shelves. I regularly throw a couple of onions in the microwave for a two to three minutes and then peel and add to meals. they can be sauteed, boiled or steamed really quickly, and they are always appearing in their raw state in salads. Garlic is added to as many meals as possible.

Beans and pulses

Dried beans and pulses of every sort fill jar upon jar in my pantry. They are so quick and easy to use – either having soaked them overnight or putting them with enough water straight into the pressure cooker without soaking. They only take minutes (check your pressure cooker user manual or look online for guidance with specific beans).

When ready, they form the ideal basis for a meal, or simply add a bit of spice, herbs, nutritional yeast, vinegar or non-salt sauces or eat them one their own as a quick and filling snack.

 It’s also worth keeping some tins, jars or tetra-paks of ready-cooked beans for times when you are really in a rush. Just make sure they either have no or just a little salt added. Even tins of low-sugar/salt baked beans will fit the bill if you have no time for anything else.

Flours, baking power, baking soda and dried yeast

Making your own bread, muffins, the occasional cake etc is not only cost-saving, it is always going to be the healthier option compared with the bast majority of commercially-prepared versions. Try out every type of wholemeal (always wholemeal) flours that you can find – kamut, einkorn, emmer, spelt, rye, bulgar – so many with which to experiment.

Herbs & spices

There are loads of herbs and spices that you can keep in your pantry. Onion powder and garlic powder are really handy to keep available. Cumin, smoked paprika and black pepper get into most meals one way or another.

Fresh herbs in pots and dried herbs in jars. Italian spices, Indian spices, Chinese spices, Caribbean spices, spices you bought, spice mixes you pre-prepared.

Whenever you come across a herb or spice that you don’t have, buy it, put it in an attractive labelled jar and experiment with it – there will always be WFPB recipe ideas on the internet to use with it.

Tinned goods

Tinned vegetables and fruits can be really convenient. Try to avoid those that have added salt or sugar – especially those fruits that are in syrup. As a basis for a main course, dessert or just as a snack straight from the tin, it is better to know that you have these in reserve for times when you need to eat quickly but don’t have enough time to prepare a meal from fresh.

Condiments

Vinegars

There are lots of different vinegars that you can use to spice up any meal – balsamic, red/white wine, cider, sherry, rice, champagne, malt, white. Again, few meals manage to get eaten without some vinegar or other being involved. Lovely on a baked/microwaved potato or with nutritional yeast over gently cooked kale or cabbage.

 

Mustards

There are a huge number of interesting mustards available – classic yellow, Dijon, spicy brown, Pinot Noir, English, German, Chinese, balsamic, stout beer, habanero. My favourite is whole grain. I get through so much of it that I usually buy three at a time. Mustard jazzes up almost any meal – from complex stews to simple plates of beans, rice and dark leafy greens.

Sauces & flavourings

Garlic, chilli, fruity, tomato salsas – whether mild to inferno level, these add such character to meals. Check that the varieties you buy have as low sugar, salt and oil added as possible.

Liquid or coconut aminos is useful to have around. I buy nutritional yeast in bulk and goes into almost everything I cook. of course, you can simply make some of your special sauces and flavourings.

Refrigerator essentials

Fruit & veg

Whilst the fruit of bananas seems to last a lot longer in the fridge without turning black, expect the skins to go black a lot sooner than if they are kept outside of the fridge. Tomatoes are best kept out of the fridge in order to maintain their flavour, but mushrooms, green beans, mangetout, radish, celery etc seem to last better when kept in the fridge. Leafy greens – lettuce, kale, chard, rocket, watercress, spinach, broccoli, cabbage etc – last longer and retain more of their nutrients when kept in the fridge.

It’s claimed that the best way to store them in the fridge is to wrap them gently in a damp paper towel or a damp towel. They’ll then stay nice and crisp. This is a similar principle to the water-spraying systems next to fresh fruit and veg you may have seen in certain supermarkets. Delicate fruits like grapes, apricots, fresh berries do better when refrigerated, while many others – peaches, apples, oranges, pears, peaches, lemons, limes etc – can stay outside the fridge.

Non dairy milks

There are so many plant milks available now. If you are like me, you will enjoy making your own (see here) and these will obviously need to be refrigerated. Commercially-prepared varieties mostly appear to be UHT, so they don’t need keeping in the fridge unless they have been opened. Same goes with any home-made vegetable juices or cartons of commercially-made tomato juice – another essential thing to have hanging around – once they are opened.

Open jars/containers

There’s usually a dozen or so open jars or containers in my fridge – miso, tomato salsa, hummus (usually home-made), pickles, relishes – they are sitting there ready for adding to meals whenever needed.

Colour and variety

You want to open your fridge and see the rainbow!

Freezer

Most ready-prepared frozen veg and fruit you buy is already washed and pre-cut for you. It makes life so easy. And it’s more affordable. So it’s a win-win. You can buy ready-cooked brown rice or freeze your own in portions and quickly heat up in the microwave or on the stove. You can freeze healthy home-made breads, cookies, muffins, and all those delicious home-made desserts so that they can be ready for you within minutes. Some people recommend keeping other foods in the freezer, including nuts and seeds, flours and nutritional yeast.

Leftovers and meals precooked in batches are ideal for storage in the freezer. Soups freeze well in in individual portions. I also make lots of vegetable broth from both the vegetable scraps used during the week and the water I reuse to boil veg. This can be put into one cup portions or in ice cube trays, ready for when you need a quick stock as a basis for a meal. A couple of stock ice cubes are great for starting off sauteed veg in a wok or frying pan. Tofu freezes well and it changes into a sort of ground beef consistency. So, if you’re looking to replace ground beef in some of your family’s old favourite meals, chilli or tacos, for instance, this is something worth trying out.

If you come across a load of veg or fruit for sale, it is probably possible to freeze from fresh or after cooking. I do this with apples when they are freely available from friends and family – boil, puree and freeze. Apple sauce is excellent as a base for so many meals and desserts. Even things like capsicum (bell) peppers and chilli pepper freeze well. During the summer months when strawberries and other berries are plentiful and cheap, it’s an ideal to pile loads into the freezer. And if you don’t have enough room for individual fruits, blend them up and keep them as a berry sauce for future use.

Finally, whenever you come across reduced-price fresh vegetables or fruit, it’s worth considering buying in bulk and either putting straight in the freezer or cooking/preparing them and then freezing them.

Starting out

Starting out on this wonderful WFPB journey can be fun as well as optimally healthy. Why not make it a personal challenge to have the best stocked WFPB kitchen in town!