What does “Whole-Foods Plant-Based” Mean?
“Whole-Foods” means any foods that have undergone minimal to (ideally) no processing and is free from additives or other artificial substances.
“Plant-Based” means a diet strong in whole grains, fruits, legumes, and vegetables, with little or no meat. (Typically if you eat whole-foods plant-based you are not eating meat.)
When you combine them, you are talking about a vegan lifestyle where you avoid/minimize eating processed foods and focus on eating plant-based alternatives instead.
Of course, this lifestyle is a challenge. Instead of getting caught up in whether or not I follow it perfectly, I focus on following it as closely as I can. I still eat some slightly processed foods, though I try not to make them a substantial part of my diet.
What Do I Eat on a WFPB Diet?
You are Not eating:
- Any animal products (no meats, no dairy, nothing coming from an animal)
- Any cheeses or cheese substitutes (too much fat, sodium, and sometimes oils)
- Any oils and any foods with oil added to them
- Refined sugars and high-fructose corn syrups (sodas, candies, cookies, etc.)
- Processed grains (white flour, white rice, white pastas)
You Are eating:
- All fruits
- All whole grains
- All legumes
- All vegetables
You are minimizing:
- Processed foods (stick to whole-foods)
- High fat whole foods (such as avocado and nuts or nut butters)
Label Reading Rules:
- Never believe the claims on the outside of a package or box. They’re trying to make a sale, they don’t care about your health. Just because it says “natural” or “healthy” that doesn’t make the product natural or healthy for you.
- Read the nutritional information box as well as the ingredients list of every product.
- If you see this in the ingredient list, don’t buy it:
- Any bread product without the word “whole” in the ingredient list. (Whole semolina or Whole durum wheat is fine, but durum, durum wheat, or enriched durum wheat is not)
- Any product with the word “oil” anywhere in the ingredient list, no matter what kind of oil it is. Oil is not good for you!
- Added sodium (sea salt is acceptable, but salt should be minimized in your daily diet)
- Added sugars (specifically refined and processed sugars—these are empty, unhealthy calories)
- Any kind of dairy product or added fats (butter in particular, big no-no)
What do I keep stocked in my kitchen? (a snapshot of store-bought products)
Breads, Flours, Grains
- For bread slices I use Ezekiel 4:9 Low Sodium Sprouted Whole Grain Bread (they also carry gluten-free variations)
- I also use Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Tortillas
- Yellow corn tortillas
- Brown rice (short- and long-grain)
- Wild rice
- Yellow stone-ground cornmeal (I like Hodgson Mill’s)
- Rolled and Quick oats, occasionally I pick up Steel-cut oats
- I don’t eat much cereal (expensive and I try to minimize eating processed things), but when I do these are the brands I look for: Ezekiel 4:9 cereals, “Barbara’s” products, and anything I find in the health foods section of Kroger not containing added oils/sugars/salts or cooked in oils, and not made of processed wheat.
- Whole grain pastas, rice pastas, spinach pastas
- Ground whole grain flours (Bob’s Red Mill is basically exclusively what I use), I particularly keep whole wheat flour and whole wheat pastry flour in stock at all times, though I also keep amaranth, sorghum, and oat flour handy
Canned & Jarred
- Canned beans: black, pinto, kidney, garbanzo, and cannellini. Kroger sells their Simple Truth Organic brand canned beans; I always buy these because they are oil-free, preserved only in water and with sea salt.
- Canned fire-roasted tomatoes & diced tomatoes (usually Muir Glen but I also pick up whatever’s on sale and free of added oils)
- The only pasta sauce I use (when I’m not making it myself) is Muir Glen’s portabello mushroom pasta sauce
- Pizza sauce
- For vegetable broth/stock I use Pacific Organic Low Sodium Vegetable Broth
- “Morinaga” brand boxed silken tofu (found in Kroger)
- “Simple Truth” strawberry preserve jelly. They carry a number of fruit jellies that use organic cane sugar
- Salsa – oil-free, reduced sugar/salt (look for Muir Glen or Mateo’s Salsa-sold at Costco!- but I’ve found a few brands that actually work well for WFPB)
- Peanut butter. It’s crazy-hard to find a good one without tons of oil or added salt in it. You want to find something from the health food section or a freshly ground batch (some grocery stores will let you grind your own peanut butter). I’ve used a few different brands and every one of them makes my recipes come out differently. My advice is to find a brand that is only peanuts and (reduced) salt on the ingredient list. No added oils or anything else.
Bottled stuff – Sauces, Vinegars
- Yellow and Dijon mustards
- Low-sodium ketchup (Simple Truth, Muir Glen, or Heinz Organic)
- Low-sodium Tamari and Soy Sauce (Kikkoman and Simple Truth)
- Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (a natural soy sauce alternative, found at most grocery stores)
- Sriracha sauce
- Cholula hot sauce (original flavor, in small amounts)
- Liquid smoke
- Balsamic vinegar
- Red and White wine vinegar
- Red and White cooking wine
- Apple Cider vinegar
- Rice vinegar (unseasoned sodium- and sugar-free, I use Marukan’s)
Veggies & Fruits
- Whatever fresh fruits & veggies I am in the mood for. I try to buy things in-season and on sale as much as possible.
- Sweet potatoes and Yukon gold potatoes
- Green onions, Red onions, and Yellow or sweet onions. Millions of onions
- Unsweetened shredded coconut
- I keep frozen bananas, corn, edamame, spinach, okra, and peas at all times. I also keep a bag of frozen, oil-free hash browns
- Cilantro, Parsley, Spinach, and Kale
Milk & Egg substitutes
- I drink unsweetened Original and Vanilla almond milk (Silk or Blue Diamond brand)
- Unsweetened applesauce
- Ener-G egg replacer and Neategg egg replacer
- Flaxseed meal – used to make flaxseed “eggs”
Sweeteners & Chocolates
- I use Stevia sweetener packets for my coffee, though I’ve seen a lot of debate about this saying I shouldn’t be using it…
- Agave nectar is my best friend
- Pure maple syrup
- Turbinado (raw cane sugar)
- Medjool dates & Golden raisins
- Unsweetened cacao powder
- Unsweetened baking chocolate (make sure the cacao content is as high as possible)