Don’t call it a diet, part 2

See here for part 1.


What we eat

I very, very commonly get asked, “What do you eat?” Sometimes it’s asked with genuine curiosity, sometimes with concern and often with a hint of disdain. (What DO you eat anyway?) The short answer is that we eat anything that is a plant. Whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, corn, oats, etc.), beans and other legumes, lots of veggies and fruits and some nuts. We don’t add oil to anything. If any sweetener is added, it’s just a bit of maple syrup. We don’t have heart disease, so we do use a small amount of salt. Very quickly, our tastes changed and we found most prepared foods to be too sweet or too salty.

We don’t count anything – not fat grams, calories, carbs or anything else. If we’re hungry, we eat. If you know me, you know that not only do I not miss meals, I don’t even miss snacks. I get mean when I’m hungry (or “hangry”), and really, no one wants that. There is zero deprivation here.

Breakfast for me is almost always oatmeal (I order Bob’s Red Mill in bulk from Amazon), with frozen blueberries, some ground flax seed and a dash of maple syrup. My husband eats his version of Rip’s Big Bowl, made with shredded wheat, oats, Uncle Sam’s cereal, flax seed, walnuts, raisins, fresh fruit and unsweetened almond milk. Breakfast occurs way too early in the morning to have to think about it, so having a standard go-to thing that we like seems to work well for us. We also drink black coffee. (It was easy to stop adding dairy. I spent a week or so weaning off sugar in my coffee. Get good coffee. It makes all the difference.)

We ditched juices, soft drinks and sweet tea and we now exclusively drink water. I have come to love a cup of hot tea, especially in the evening. I drink mostly peppermint or ginger, with an occasional cup of green tea. No sweeteners are needed.

For lunch or dinner, we eat flavors and dishes that have always been favorites, we just make them without animal products or added oil and sugar. It takes adjusting, but not too much.

So, there you have it. Now, go clean out your pantry. 🙂



Regular foods at our house:

· Veggie bowl: This is very customizable based on what you have. Use a grain, a bean, a starchy vegetable, some greens and whatever else. My favorite combo here is brown rice, black beans, roasted sweet potatoes (no oil needed) seasoned with cumin and chili powder, some kale or salad greens and some peppers, onions and zucchini sautéed in a little veggie broth or water. I could eat this every stinking day. It’s also delicious piled into a tortilla.

· Noodles and such: I use brown rice pasta or soba noodles here. Sauté a bunch of veggies (peppers, onions, broccoli, snow peas, cabbage, mushrooms – whatever you have and like) in veggie broth or water. When they are cooked enough, add a brown sauce (low sodium soy sauce, a dash of maple syrup, ginger, garlic, a little cornstarch) or a peanut-based sauce (basically brown sauce with a couple of tablespoons of natural peanut butter), heat and add to the noodles.

· Beans and rice: I often cook beans in the crockpot. I no longer soak my black beans or pinto beans (science! Instead, I cook them all day in the crockpot. Use good beans. Rancho Gordo is far and above any other brand I’ve ever tried. Even expensive beans are still far cheaper than an equivalent amount of meat. Spring for the good stuff here.

· Stir “fry”: Do your usual stir fry veggies in broth instead of oil. Season and serve over brown rice.

· Chili: Peppers, onions, garlic, tomatoes, kidney beans and/or black beans, chili powder, ground chipotle or cayenne. Simmer, adding water as needed. This is also delicious served over oven fries or, as with almost any other food, stuffed into a tortilla.

· Salad: There’s nothing wrong with a good salad. Pile it full of veggies, add some chickpeas, top the whole thing with some balsamic vinegar and go to town.

· Kale salad: I make this every week of my life. I wash and strip kale from the big stems and chop or tear it into small pieces. I may or may not add chopped veggies and maybe a drained and rinsed can of chick peas. The dressing is my standard variety – a little peanut butter, low sodium soy sauce, a little sriracha and maple syrup. Thin the whole thing with warm water and whisk like mad. Toss it with the kale and enjoy. It’s better the second day.

· Chips and salsa: We love salsa here. Add this to your food processor: one 28 oz. can of whole tomatoes (no salt added is great), add some onion, a big handful of fresh cilantro, and fresh jalapeno or crushed red pepper flakes to taste. Blend and then add some freshly ground black pepper. Serve with no-oil tortilla chips. We cut fresh corn tortillas into triangles and bake in a single layer on a Silpat mat at 375 for 10 minutes. Make a batch and they will keep in a sealed container for several days, staying crispy and delicious.

· Oven fries: We eat plant carbs like nobody’s business. Cut potatoes into French fry sizes, put them on a Silpat or parchment paper, season with whatever you want (chili powder, Mrs. Dash, rosemary, etc.) and bake at 425 for 40 minutes. Awesome.

· Nice cream, also known here as “banana stuff”: Cut bananas in slices and freeze on a cookie sheet. Once frozen, bag them and store in the freezer. To make banana stuff, add frozen banana slices and unsweetened almond milk to your high-powered blender or food processor. We use a Ninja blender that was about $40 from Amazon. Blend it a bit and then add cocoa powder. All of this is very subjective, depending on whether you want an ice cream consistency or a milkshake. Experiment and then lick the bowl because you just made something totally healthy that tastes exactly like chocolate ice cream. If you absolutely must have a recipe, here’s one that omits the almond milk. This does not taste like bananas. I repeat: no banana taste. This is critical.


oven fries

Recipe resources:

· Forks Over Knives: Also try the Forks Over Knives Cookbook.

· Happy Herbivore: She has several cookbooks in print. All are filled with easy, delicious recipes. My favorite? Enchiladas. She also offers a weekly recipe/meal plan subscription at and YouTube videos that show how to prepare a week’s worth of healthy meals in just an hour or so. If cooking isn’t your thing, this could save you.

· Fat free Vegan:

· Eat Plant-Based:

· Engine 2:

· PlantPure Nation: For a freakishly easy transition, PlantPure Nation even sells frozen meals (good ingredients) that are WFPB, just like the meals used in community jumpstart programs. (See the movie for context.)

· The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook:

· Plant Powered Kitchen:

· If you use Pinterest or Instagram, search #wfpb or #wfpbno (whole foods plant based no oil).

Movies currently on Netflix:

· Forks Over Knives: START HERE.

· PlantPure Nation: I see this as a de facto sequel to Forks Over Knives. It’s very motivating and includes a bit more of the political side of how we as a country have the nutrition guidelines that we do. (Spoiler alert: the guidelines don’t have much to do with nutrition.)

· Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue: this is a great “how to” starting point once you are ready to change.

· Fed Up: this is great if your sweet tooth is the thing that is killing you.

· That Sugar Film: I don’t agree with everything here, but again, it’s good info, especially if sugar is your kryptonite.

· Not movies, exactly, but some great videos:



· “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease” by Caldwell Esselstyn: THE starting point, in my opinion, whether you have heart disease or not.

· “The Engine 2 Diet” by Rip Esselstyn

· “How Not to Die” by Michael Gregor: This is a truly comprehensive book, loaded with double blind, peer-reviewed studies. It is written in a way that is very accessible, even if you don’t enjoy reading medical stuff. The “how not to die” hook is about how not to die from specific causes likes heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, etc. It is not a guide to immortality. You are still going to die eventually. As the T-shirt says, y’all need Jesus.

· “The China Study” by Colin Campbell: OK, correlation doesn’t equal causation. Whatever. If you nerd out about medical stuff like I do, you will enjoy this.

· “Whole” by Colin Campbell: again, a little on the nerd side, but important if you have a keen interest in nutrition.

· “The Plant Based Journey” by Lani Muelrath: this is a super accessible, easy read for anyone interested in changing nutrition.



Stuff that is helpful but not required:

· Salad spinner – I get great use out of my cheapo salad spinner from Ikea. We are fortunate to live where we can get a delivery of fresh, local veggies each week, so I prep a lot of veggies at one time. The salad spinner really helps dry greens well enough so they keep throughout the week.

· Silpat mat – Dear Lord, please let this not turn out to be a carcinogen. I love my Silpat mat.

· Small coffee grinder – I ordered a cheap one and use it once a week to grind flax seeds. I store the whole seeds in the freezer and store the ground seeds in a jar in the fridge. Easy. Omega 3s, baby.

· Parchment paper – If you don’t have or aren’t using a Silpat, this works very well for fries, veggie burgers, roasting veggies, etc.

· A heavy, stainless steel frying pan – I don’t use nonstick pans, but a heavy stainless steel one works just fine. Get it screaming hot and/or add a little veggie broth or water and you’ve got instant nonstick without the chemical stew. You do not need to cook with oil. I swear.

Ninja blender or equivalent – See banana stuff. Totally worth it, even if this becomes a kitchen unitasker.

2 Responses to “Don’t call it a diet, part 2”

  1. Michele C writes:

    Chris: Thanks for sharing your story. Excellent info & well laid out! I’ve been making changes but am not sure I can / would give up ribeyes and cheese. Ha! – michele

  2. cworthy writes:

    Thank you!!

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