Beginning A Whole Food Plant Based Life

Cowboy Caviar/Sweet Potato

I made the change to a plant based diet after reading books that introduced me to this way of eating such as Vegan for Life: Everything You Need to Know to be Healthy on a Plant Based Diet, Whole, and The China Study. I also watched Forks over Knives. I continued by enrolling in the e-Cornell Plant Based Nutrition course.

At the same time, I came across the author and speaker Andy Andrews. He made this statement regarding making a decision: “ Most people think it takes a long time to change. It doesn’t. Change is immediate! Instantaneous! It may take a long time to decide to change…but change happens in a heartbeat!” This statement was a great reminder to begin. Try.

Whole Food Plant Based

I searched vegan recipes online until I found this appealing recipe from the Lunch Box Bunch here.

This site has many, many tempting vegan recipes; however, I was trying to lose weight and had to be choosy. I also wanted to make the most nutritious choices from this point on. This recipe, like many other vegan recipes, needed to be altered just a bit to lighten it up, so I made a few small changes. I also find that recipes labeled plant based may also need a little tweaking to accommodate my long term goal of losing weight.

The White Miso Dressing
I used the minimum amount of 100% maple syrup to appeal to my taste. Make sure your maple syrup is 100%. You will need to read the label. 100% Maple syrup is a whole food, but still, a sugar source so should be used sparingly. I also chose to use the tahini and eliminate the olive oil. Tahini is crushed sesame seeds, high in fat but contains “healthy fat” as do other nuts and seeds but remember to use in small quantities. Concerning olive oil, as per the book Whole, eat the whole olive rather than using just the oil.

This dressing is delicious and helped me start my journey. Today I would consider this a dessert and use it sparingly due to the maple syrup and tahini.

Miso-Dipped Tempeh Logs
Tempeh is a fermented whole soybean cake that is considered minimally processed in the whole food plant based community. It is a good source of protein; however, tempeh is also high in fat. I replaced the tempeh with another legume such as black or pinto beans. They are also a great source of protein, but much lower in fat. I eliminated the oil drizzled in the pan, and I did not add liquid smoke as it’s not considered a whole food or minimally processed whole food. The chipotle powder added enough flavor for me.

Raw Kale Salad
I made this as directed, though I massaged the kale a bit to soften. I have used other greens to replace the kale as well. It doesn’t need to be kale. As for the avocado topper, it is important to note that a serving size is ⅓ of an avocado.

I replaced the wrap with a soft warmed corn tortilla. I read the labels of the corn tortilla packages and choose the one closest to whole food with minimal ingredients and additives.

I literally lived on this along with whole fruit, vegetables (cooked or raw), and whole grains such as rice or oatmeal until I found the next recipe that appealed to me. I continued to make little changes to the recipes, again to accommodate my goal of losing weight.

By eating the “whole” food, we receive the benefit of the fiber and water which helps us feel full. It is common in the plant based community to hear the comment “ it is almost impossible to gain weight on a plant based diet.” Well, I will tell you, I can over eat very quickly and gain weight if I am not mindful of what I am putting in my mouth. I had to practice weighing and measuring my food to understand proper serving sizes and visualize the amount of food I actually needed in contrast to the amount I would typically eat.

A food scale (I’ve had this for years) , measuring cups and spoons, along with a smartphone application such as My Fitness Pal, which allows you to scan the bar codes simplifying the process of tracking food, are essential. Recently, I heard an advertisement for a diet plan that ships food to you. I noted the fact that they tell you “You don’t want to weigh and measure your food!” such a subtle suggestion that may find you, without realizing it, nodding your head in agreement, however, yes I do want to weigh and measure my own food. It is not difficult or time-consuming and it helps me understand proper serving sizes. You will not need to measure food forever as it will become second nature to you.

Chef AJ and the nutritionist Jeff Novick, MS, RDN, often speak about calorie density. Calorie density, I believe is an essential aspect of losing weight on a plant-based or any diet for those of us who tend to over eat. They have created a tried and true path with this concept of eating more of the high quality, lower calorie foods and limiting the higher calorie whole foods to create a well balanced, filling and satisfying way of eating.

I hope this information is helpful and empowers you to make the changes you desire in your life. Would you like help making changes to a recipe? Let’s work on it together!

Enjoy your day!


Disclaimer: This is my story. This is not to be used as medical advice. Always consult with your doctor regarding your health.

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