Fact: Last week I met a friend for tea and we ate a huge piece of cherry pie together. And then on my way home I picked up Chinese food for dinner because all I wanted to do was go directly to my couch, eat Mongolian Tofu, and watch House of Cards. Being in my kitchen wasn’t part of that scenario, so I skipped it.
The next morning I made a big green smoothie and I continued eating plant food.
And this is just how it goes sometimes.
- It’s not the end of the world.
- It doesn’t mean that I’m a failure and every healthy meal that I’ve ever had and will ever have doesn’t count.
- It doesn’t put back on the 12 pounds that I’ve lost since I quit drinking and started being diligent about eating a diet full of whole plant foods.
- It doesn’t make me any less credible in my job.
- It doesn’t make me a bad person.
It means that I ate a huge ass piece of delicious cherry pie followed by Chinese food last week. That’s it.
Here’s the thing. It’s important that you don’t get obsessed with perfection.
Perfection doesn’t exist. And obsession isn’t healthy – whether it’s with donuts or kale.
If you’re the kind of person who can’t have sugar or you will go into a sugar bender for the next three months, only looking up to wipe bright blue frosting from your face and brush away chocolate cake crumbs from your hair, then – yeah – maybe you should skip the pie.
Otherwise, keep in mind that eating a Whole Food Plant Based diet is a lifestyle. There is no finish line. This isn’t a contest. No one is measuring your success or failure. You aren’t being graded.
It’s how you eat the majority of the time that counts most.
That said, do yourself a solid by being honest about the word majority.
If you drink a green smoothie every morning and the rest of your day is laced with white flour and cheese, the majority of your food is not Whole Food Plant Based.
If you eat mainly vegan food, but your meals are lacking vegetables and fruit, the majority of your food is not Whole Food Plant Based.
Be honest with your assessment and then do what you have to do to tweak it.
The bottom line is this, don’t make your life miserable by trying to be perfect. Do the best you can, don’t take it too seriously, and when you have to recommit, recommit and move on.
And if you ever wonder how you’re doing on this plant eating journey, check in with yourself and see how you feel physically, mentally and emotionally. Let that determine your progress and let the rest go.
If you’re new to this way of eating or if it’s time for you to recommit, I’ve compiled a cheat sheet to help you determine what is considered Whole Food Plant Based and what is not.
Here are the foods that make up the majority of Whole Food Plant Based eating. Eat the most of these foods.
- All veggies, including sea veggies
- All fruit
- All beans and legumes
- All whole grains
- All nuts and seeds
Here are the foods that are considered minimally processed and are a-okay when eating a Whole Food Plant Based diet. Use these ingredients to round out your meals or add them to recipes.
- Whole wheat or sprouted grain tortillas
- Whole wheat or sprouted grain bread, bagels and English muffins
- Whole wheat, sprouted grain, quinoa, soba and brown rice pasta
- Whole wheat or whole grain flours like buckwheat, spelt, barley, chickpea, brown rice, etc…
- Vital wheat gluten (this should be used sparingly because it is the most processed on this list)
- All herbs and spices
- Non-dairy milk with no additives or sweeteners
- Sauerkraut and pickles without vinegar
- Shoyu, tamari, Braggs amino acids and coconut aminos
- Vinegars like rice, plum, red wine, apple cider, balsamic, etc…
- Nut butters – sugar and salt free
- Nutritional yeast
- Low fat coconut milk (the kind in the can)
- Canned tomato products
- Olives and capers (packed in water, not oil)
- Hot sauce (without oil, sweeteners or additives)
- Dijon Mustard
- 100% pure maple syrup and other pure sweeteners like brown rice syrup and sourgum syrup (use sparingly)
- Dried fruit (use sparingly)
- Vanilla extract
- Cacao powder and cacao nibs
- Herbal teas
- Coconut water
Here are the foods to avoid when eating a Whole Food Plant Based diet.
- All meat
- All poultry
- All seafood
- All dairy products
- All oils (even coconut and olive oil)
- All processed foods
- Faux meats and faux dairy products that contain oil, refined sugar, or processed ingredients
- All soda
- All processed sugar
- Anything containing white flour
- Bottled salad dressings that contain oil and / or sugar
- Processed breakfast cereal
- Cakes, pies, pastries, donuts and all bakery item made from processed ingredients like white flour and sugar.
Okay my dear, go do what you gotta do to commit or recommit. You can start by making today’s recipe.
Roasted Kabocha Squash
Serves 3 – 6 people, depending on the size of your squash.
1 kabocha squash
3 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon paprika
3 garlic cloves, minced
10 turns cracked black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C).
- Make the sauce by adding all of the sauce ingredients into a small mixing bowl and whisking until all of the ingredients are mixed together. Set aside for now.
- Cut the squash in half. Couple of tricks here. Do not try to cut through the stem, cut on one side of it. Use a large sharp knife and be careful because Kabocha is super thick and tough to cut. When you have the squash open, scoop out the seeds.
- Place both halves on the cutting board with the inside of the squash facing down. Cut off each of the ends, just enough to cut off the stem and the very bottom of the squash. Continue to cut half moons slices, about 1/2 inch thick. After you cut each half into 1/2 inch half moons, cut those in half so they aren’t as long.
- Place the squash in a mixing bowl and pour the sauce over it. Mix until all of the squash is covered with sauce.
- Place the squash on a parchment covered baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the squash is soft to your liking. The skin should be soft enough to eat.