Getting started with a Whole Food Plant Based (WFPB) diet can seem difficult for some. But it can be easy and fun.
With all the research that's been done now on WFPB diets showing such great benefits to health and longevity, if you haven't given it a try, you might want to consider it.
The first thing to do to gain the greatest benefit is to add more dark leafy greens and vegetables to your diet. This can be easy with such a wide variety of frozen greens and veggies that are available in grocery stores now.
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A word about carbs. They get a bad rap sometimes and there's a reason for that. The way most people get carbs in their diet is in processed foods and drinks. These carbs aren't healthy and cause weight gain. But the complex carbs in whole foods like potatoes are healthy and don't add pounds.
Carbohydrates are really the gold standard for energy because they are the easiest way for our bodies to get the energy they need to function well and keep us going. It's much easier for our bodies to break down carbohydrates than it is fat, oil or protein, the other sources for energy. So, the carbohydrates are not the problem really, it's the form of carbohydrate you eat that is.
Think of it this way: when we get our carbs from whole, unprocessed foods like potatoes, yams or squash, those carbs are what are called complex carbs. It takes a while for our bodies to whittle down the complexity of the carb into bite sized pieces that our bodies can use for energy. As a result, the "sugar" from the complex carb enters the blood stream slowly and there's no sugar rush or insulin spike.
When we get our carbs from processed foods like bread, pasta or cookies, the "sugar" from these foods enter the blood stream quickly causing a spike in blood sugar and the need for additional insulin. This taxes the body in ways complex carbs don't and over time it shows up in symptoms like diabetes and heart disease.
The worst form of all is refined carbs in the form of sugar itself that's added to drinks and processed foods. These are completely empty calories, meaning there are no health providing nutrients coming into the body with the calories like there are with complex carbs. And this refined sugar is found in almost everything that comes in a bottle or box, including ketchup and pasta sauce, not just the cookies, crackers and dessert type foods.
A simple comparison of how these different carbs are processed by our bodies is to think of heating your house with a fireplace. The complex carbs are like stacking logs in the fireplace, which provides a slow, long, constant burn.
The processed carbs like bread, pasta and chips are like kindling. So a meal with processed carbs is like a lot of kindling in the fireplace, which burns fast, hotter than we'd like, and runs out quickly.
The refined carbs found in sugar are like putting Kleenex in the fireplace. Instant, hot burn, but no staying power. It's a really hard way to heat a house, and a really hard way for our bodies to get what they need in terms of the energy and nutrition to thrive.
The body is a healing machine. We are born and designed to thrive. The DNA in every cell of our bodies is the blueprint for thriving... but we need to give our bodies what they need to build out what's on the blueprint. And that's what a WFPB diet provides.
So, to get started with a WFPB diet, choose the highest nutrient dense foods to add to your meals. These are the dark leafy greens and vegetables. Here's a link to our Nutrient Density Chart that you can download and put up on your refrigerator if you want.
And if you don't feel like eliminating all animal products, meat, dairy and eggs, cut back on these, using only enough for flavoring rather than the main part of the dish.
The recipe this week is a Wild Rice Blend with Greens. It has quickly become one of our favorite one-dish meals. Give it a try.
To your Amazing Health,
Connie and Bill
Wild Rice Blend and Greens (Serves 4-6) *Adapted from Mary McDougall
- ¾ cup raw cashews or almonds
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 tablespoons vegetable broth or filtered water
- 28 ounce can garbanzo beans, drained
- 1 cup raisins
- 6 cups, tightly packed Swiss Chard, coarsely chopped
- fresh ground black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons Coconut Aminos (optional)
- 4 cups cooked Wild Rice Blend
In a large pan add the nuts, onions, garlic and vegetable broth or filtered water. Cook on medium heat until onions are cooked (approximately 5-7 minutes).
Add the beans, raisins, chard, pepper and coconut aminos (if using them) and cook over low heat stirring often until chard is soft and cooked.
Add the Wild Rice Blend and stir frequently until warm.
Note: You can also use kale or other greens in place of the chard. Remove stems before chopping.