Beginner’s Guide to a Whole Food Plant Based Diet & Plant Based Recipes

clean food dirty girl recipe

If you’re new to eating a whole food plant based diet, or if you’re just curious about it, you came to the right spot.

First up, following a whole food plant based diet is different from following a vegan diet. While neither includes animal-based foods or foods derived from animal-based ingredients, a whole food plant based diet (WFPB for short) goes a step further and does not include overly processed food like oil, junk food, white flour, white sugar, vegan ice cream, vegan cookies, or any other processed food. It’s worth mentioning that neither a whole food plant based diet or a vegan diet are diets in the sense of restricting calories.

The term diet here is used as a description of how someone eats on a consistent basis.

When you eat a whole food plant based diet, you’ll find yourself enjoying:

  • Veggies
  • Fruit
  • Beans
  • Legumes
  • Whole grains
  • Herbs
  • Spices
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Minimally processed plant based ingredients like tofu, tempeh, unsweetened plant milk, and sprouted grain bread.

Whether your motivation to eat more plants is to boost your immune system and your overall health, drop some pounds, get off your diabetes medication, help protect the environment, or animal welfare, it’s never too late to start, and there are no prerequisites. You simply start where you’re at and ease into it however you like.

Easing in looks different for different people. You can eat one whole food plant based meal a day, one whole food plant based meal a week, or you can just add more plants into your existing food routine. Alternatively, you can jump right in, switch to all plants, and never look back.

This is your process, and you have to do what works best for you.

I’ve seen people have success with both methods, and it’s entirely up to you. This is your process, and you have to do what works best for you. There is no wrong or right way to do this; it just takes practice and patience as you get familiar with new ingredients, new textures, and new methods of cooking.

Whether you want to go all in right away or slowly ease into this way of eating, here are some tips to help get you started.

Get used to the idea of spending time in your kitchen

You can’t order this kind of food from a restaurant or buy it pre-made at the grocery store. Eating this way requires you to get into your kitchen and cook. You don’t have to be a kitchen pro, but you must be willing to spend some time preparing your food.

As a society, we’ve gotten away from spending time in our kitchens because making our own food is not convenient. But eating out all the time and heating up frozen meals in the microwave isn’t really working for us, either. If you have zero time to spend in your kitchen, it’s time to take a look at your life and rearrange some things.

We accomplish what we make a priority

Molly Patrick

If eating more plant based is a priority to you, then you won’t find time to cook, you will make time to cook. If it’s not a priority, then you won’t. Easy as that. Either way is fine, know that in order to do this, your kitchen must be used.

It might take time for the food to taste scrumptious to you

If you’re used to eating lots of processed foods and restaurant-prepared foods, it might take a little while before your palate adjusts and you really enjoy the taste of whole plant foods. This is because processed food and restaurant food is loaded with salt, sugar, and fat, and anything that isn’t as stimulating as those foods will taste bland and boring.

The more plant based food you eat, the better the food will taste, until one day you’ll be walking along, and BOOM! You get hit with a salad craving. It totally happens!

Get your kitchen ready with some tools

You don’t need a ton of fancy kitchen gadgets, but there are a few things that are worth purchasing because you will use them often.

  • A decent blender – I used a $20 blender from Target for years. I now have a Vitamix that I love, but my $20 blender did the trick when I could not afford a Vitamix.
  • Sharp knives – you just need a few knives that you keep sharpened; trust me, sharp knives make a huge difference.
  • Instant Pot – this will save you time in the kitchen. I could not imagine not having an Instant Pot.
  • Food processor – you won’t use this daily, but when you need it, you will really need it. A food processor is perfect for hummus, bean burgers, walnut parm, and for chopping and dicing veggies.

Serve some fruit and / or veggies on the side with whatever you’re eating, plant based or not

It doesn’t matter what you’re eating, just throw some fruit and/or veggies on the side to up the nutrient density of your meal. Having eggs and bacon for breakfast? Fine! But throw some apple slices on the side.

Having an avocado sandwich for lunch? Cool, add some celery sticks and red pepper slices on the side. Eating some brown rice and stir-fried veggies and tofu for dinner? Awesome! Add a few carrot sticks and berries on the side and call it a day. Adding fruit and veggies on the side of your meals is a super-fast way to fuel up on nutrients and fiber. And when it comes to nutrients and fiber, more is definitely better.

Here’s an example of what I eat in a day

The only way to eat healthy plant based food is to put healthy plant based food in your mouth. That’s it. Try not to overcomplicate it. Here’s an example of what I eat in a day:

7am-ish – A glass of warm water

9am-ish – Hippie Breakfast Porridge. I eat it cold and make it with different types of whole grains and lentils each time I make it. I add fruit, raisins, nuts, and unsweetened soy milk.

1pm-ish – either a big salad or leftover Meal Plan food

3pm-ish – Green smoothie

6pm-ish – Meal Plan food (different all the time, so I never get bored)

I try to keep to this schedule, and I always eat until I am no longer hungry (not stuffed and not feeling like I need more food). I do not eat between meals, and I don’t drink anything with my meals.

Find good whole food plant based recipes

There are mouthgasmic whole food plant based recipes and there are whole food plant based recipes that taste exactly like cardboard. I can’t personally vouch for other recipes, but ours are consistently satisfying and delicious. We have hundreds of free recipes on our blog, and we offer weekly Meal Plans with recipes you won’t find anywhere else. Creating tasty, healthy recipes is what we do best.

Definitely google around and see what’s out there. Whatever you do, hold off on making all your own plant based recipes in the beginning. Start with a solid base and then experiment with your own if you like playing in the kitchen.

Stock your kitchen with the staples

In order to put yummy plant based food in your mouth on a regular basis you must have some staples in your fridge and pantry so you can make the food.

You will be using ingredients that you’ve maybe never even heard of before. Nutritional yeast, ume plum vinegar, quinoa, tahini, and miso paste to name a few. Here’s a list of kitchen staples that will create a solid base of ingredients for your kitchen. Once you have these items you will be able to whip together many whole food plant based recipes. Once you have yummy food made, there won’t be any reason not to eat it.

Add green smoothies into your routine

Green smoothies are a quick and delicious way to get a huge boost of nutrients in one go. If you do nothing more but add a green smoothie to your daily routine, that is a fantastic start! Here are some green smoothie recipes to get you started.

Always have these items ready to go in your fridge and you can whip together a ton of fast meals

  • Hummus – sandwiches, quesadillas, on salads
  • Chickpea Mash – sandwiches, on salads
  • Sprouted tortillas – tacos, burritos, quesadillas
  • A yummy cheesy sauce (this one is my jam) – put it on potatoes, pasta and bowls
  • Cooked sweet potatoes or white potatoes – top with veggies and pour cheesy sauce on top
  • Salad dressing (this is my all-time fave) – salads, sandwich spread
  • Washed and dried lettuce and leafy greens – you are way more likely to eat your greens when they are washed and ready to go
  • Sprouted bread – sweet or savory toast (see today’s recipe)
  • Baked Tofu – sandwiches, salads, bowls, or just to munch on alone
  • Nut or seed butter – add to celery or apple slices
  • Fruit // eat it plain or on the side with everything you eat
  • Cooked rice or quinoa – bowls
  • Canned beans – bowls, burritos, on salads
  • Walnut parm – sprinkle on pasta, salads and bowls
  • Toasted seeds – salad topper
  • Hippie porridge – I love this cold with fruit, nuts, raisins, and soy milk
  • Sauerkraut – add to sandwiches and salads

Act on your cravings, just eat whole food plant based versions of them

The longer you eat a whole food plant based diet, the less you will crave things like pizza, french fries, burgers, and cake. However, when you are new to eating this way and you start craving junk food, whip together whole food plant based versions of those foods.

Craving pizza?
Make a pita pocket pizza with red sauce, cheesy sauce, Tofu Sausage, and veggies.

Craving burgers?
Make these bad boys.

Craving cake?
Nip that craving here!

Craving Mac and Cheese?
We got you!

Whatever you do, never eat a piece of lettuce when all you really want is a Reuben, or an orange when all you really want is a candy bar. You will only be pissed off and disappointed. Make the healthiest version possible of whatever you’re craving and allow your craving to be satisfied.

When you’re ready to dive deeper into plant based eating and living, check out our resources you can’t find anywhere else

Weekly whole food plant based Meal Plans where we hook you up with a new plan and new recipes every Friday. You can set your portions and everything will be adjusted for you with handy shopping lists and clear cooking directions. Our Meal Plans include our entire database of over 2,800 tested and approved whole food plant based recipes.

Don’t give up!

If you’ve tried eating a vegan diet in the past and it didn’t work for you, know that a whole food plant based diet is a much different experience. It really is one of the very best things you can do for your health that will impact how you feel on a daily basis. Wherever you’re at in your process, I am cheering you on!

Are you new to plant based eating? What challenges have you had with making the switch? Talk to us in the comments below!

clean food dirty girl recipe

Peanut Butter Papaya Toast


  • sprouted bread, toasted
  • peanut butter no added oil or sugar
  • papaya, seeded and sliced
  • raspberries fresh or frozen
  • lime, juiced


  • Toast your bread and then smear it with peanut butter.
  • Add some papaya slices and raspberries and squeeze fresh lime juice on top. Enjoy!

Wishing you a happy week. May it be filled with trying something new. If you’re curious about starting a whole food plant based diet, we invite you to sign up for two Free Plant Based Meal Plans and join our Facebook Group and. You’ll be among the most supportive dirties ready to help you on your journey to eating more plants. See you there!


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Our Sweary Saturday Love Letters are written by our ex-boozer, ex-smoker, plant-loving co-founder, Molly Patrick.


  1. Denise Bolin-Clark on April 18, 2020 at 9:22 am

    Molly, what kind of insta pot for you have,? I’m looking to buy one in May w/birthday money. I won’t HV alot but I don’t want to skimp and regret it down the road. Thanks, Denise

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on April 18, 2020 at 9:28 am

      Hi Denise, I’m sure Molly will reply but in case it helps I have an Instant Pot IP-LUX60 6-in-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker, 6.33-Quart. I bought it in 2013 for about $100 and it is still going strong. I can safely double most CFDG recipes (I am only cooking for two so I could probably have chosen a smaller cooker but this one gives flexibility to go larger if I have guests and I never feel like it is too big even for regular use), and I’ve not had to replace any parts. It’s a kitchen workhorse that was well worth the investment. ~Karen

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on April 21, 2020 at 10:17 am

      Hi Denise, Molly asked me to share these two blog posts on using the Instant Pot (and hers is in the video) with you, too!

      Part 1

      Part 2


  2. Barbara Passman on April 19, 2020 at 10:52 am

    Check out Zavor, the company reborn our of Fagor, which made wonderful pressure cookers.
    The Zavor Lux won recognition from America’s test Kitchen an Consumers Guide
    Beautiful well made pot that holds to the stated temperature.
    And, from what the company wrote me some weeks ago, Zavor is working on an AirFry top for this pot.
    Otherwise do look at the Instant Pot Duo with Airfryer Lid

    I have both multi cookers (purchased the Instant pot accidentally but very much like the airfryer lid which works far better than than Mealthy air fryer lid meant to work on any 6 or 8 quart instant pot

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on April 21, 2020 at 7:53 am

      Hi Barbara – thanks for sharing! My first pressure cooker was a stove top Fagor and I didn’t realize they had a new product line. ~Karen

  3. Jill on May 16, 2020 at 11:52 am

    Girl, I love me some papaya! It’s one of the many reasons I enjoy visiting Mexico so much. You know, that and the free range iguanas. Sadly, if papaya aren’t picked ripe it’s not at all the same flavor explosion. Jealous!

  4. Jackie Metcalfe on December 28, 2021 at 3:00 am

    Hi Molly
    I wanted to comment on my challenges in getting started on WFPB eating. 1. Knowing how to start, how to get all the nutrients I need, having recipies. So I am so excited to find you. 2. Cost of buying ingredients. Fresh is so much more expensive than crappy processed. And recipies often have ingredients that I find hard to locate, are expensive, and I don’t know what to do with. So expense is the issue, perceived or real. 3. Making time to cook and be prepared for my meals. That is a mindset I’m responsible for changing.
    So looking forward to exploring your website, information, and recipes and ready to join your Facebook community too. I see you contribute to the Nourish magazine which is where I found you. And excited to start WFPB eating.
    Jackie Metcalfe

    • Team Dirty - Brittany on December 28, 2021 at 8:39 am

      Hello, Jackie, we are thrilled you have found us!

      Congrats on starting your WFPB journey. You can go as quickly or as slowly as you need to.

      1. Please use our free recipes.

      2. Yes, sometimes organic and fresh produce can be on the pricey side. However, we rely on a lot of bulk items like rice, grains, nuts, and beans which are cheap and help offset the cost of produce.

      3. Making time to cook is a challenge, but we make anything a priority when we truly care about it. Molly recently published this blog post which is a perfect place to get started. Three Super Simple steps to Start a Plant Based Diet.

      4. We look forward to seeing you in our private Facebook Group. You’ll find thousands of other beautiful souls just like you!

      Peace & plants,


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