Archive for cooking

WFPB Kitchen Staples

By: Jane Birch

Below is a list of possible whole food, plant-based (WFPB) kitchen staples and useful tools. This should give you a good idea of the types of ingredients people use when cooking WFPB. You do not need a fully stocked kitchen to go WFPB. Start simply with the recipes and ingredients you like!

When buying products, look for 100% plant-based, with very little or no oil, sugar, salt or chemicals.


  • Various fresh, frozen and canned fruits
  • Lemon/lime juice (for cooking)


  • Various fresh, frozen and canned vegetables
  • Canned diced tomatoes
  • Tomato paste, tomato puree, and/or tomato sauce


  • Barley
  • Brown rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Corn meal / polenta
  • Millet
  • Oats (old-fashioned rolled or steel cut)
  • Popcorn kernels
  • Quinoa
  • Rye
  • Spelt berries (farro)
  • Wheat
  • Whole grain flours, such as whole wheat, whole spelt, or brown rice flour
  • Whole grain pasta, such as whole wheat, brown rice or soba [buckwheat] noodles
  • Whole grain foods, such as bread, tortillas, pita or flatbreads

LEGUMES (dry or canned)

  • Beans
    • Adzuki
    • Black
    • Cannellini (white kidney)
    • Chickpeas (garbanzo)
    • Kidney
    • Mung
    • Navy
    • Pinto
    • Soy
    • White
    • Refried beans (no fat added)
  • Lentils (red, brown, French, etc.)
  • Peas (black-eyed peas, split, etc.)

NUTS AND SEEDS (Use in small quantities. Best kept in fridge if not used quickly.)

  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Chia
  • Flax (must be ground before eating to get the nutrients; always keep ground seeds in refrigerator)
  • Pecans
  • Poppy
  • Pumpkin
  • Sesame
  • Walnuts


  • Basil
  • Bay leaves
  • Black pepper
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Chili powder
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Coriander seed
  • Cumin
  • Curry powder
  • Dill seeds/weed
  • Dried chilies
  • Garlic powder
  • Ginger (ground)
  • Mustard seeds
  • Nutmeg
  • Oregano
  • Paprika
  • Red pepper (crushed flakes)
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Smoked paprika
  • Thyme
  • Turmeric (ground)


  • BBQ sauce (vegan)
  • Hot sauce (Sriracha, Tabasco, chipotle)
  • Mustard (different varieties)
  • Jelly (with no added sugar)
  • Ketchup (with natural ingredients)
  • Salsa (fresh or cooked)
  • Soy Sauce (low sodium soy sauce or Tamari and/or Bragg Liquid Aminos)
  • Sweetners (use in small quantities, less than 5% of total calories a day, then it doesn’t matter much which you choose): agave, brown rice syrup, date syrup, honey, maple syrup, blackstrap molasses , raw sugar, stevia, table sugar


  • Applesauce (unsweetened)
  • Arrowroot powder or corn starch
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Cocoa or carob powder
  • Dried fruits (raisins, dates, apricots, apples, prunes, etc.). Can keep in fridge.
  • Non-dairy milk (soy, almond, rice, oat). Look for whole ingredients and no oil or chemicals added). You can also make yourself.
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Pasta sauce
  • Soy foods (traditional soy foods, no highly processed soy products): tofu, soy milk, tempeh, miso paste
  • Vanilla extract
  • Vegetable stock (liquid, cubes, or powder—no added oil, preferably low sodium or no salt added).
  • Vinegar (apple cider vinegar, balsamic, rice, etc.)

Useful Cooking Tools

The starred (*) items are the essentials. To save money, start with what you have until you figure out what will be useful in the long-term.

  • *Cutting board (plastic and/or wood)
  • *Knives (good quality)
  • *Measuring cups, cooking utensils
  • *Non-stick pots and pans (see suggestions here)
  • Blender
  • Citrus press/juicer
  • Food processor
  • Grater
  • Immersion blender
  • Non-dairy milk maker
  • Parchment paper (non-stick paper for baking)
  • Pressure Cooker or Instant Pot
  • Rice cooker
  • Scissors
  • Spatulas
  • Tongs
  • Vegetable steamer
  • Vegetable peeler

More advice on cooking tools

More WFPB Food Resources

Last updated April 7, 2017

Adjusting to Increased Fiber

It can take time for your body to adjust to more fiber!

Fiber is critical to good health. It feeds the important good bacteria (and other microbiota) in our bodies. Our microbiome plays a vital role in digesting food, absorbing (and even synthesizing) nutrients, training our immune system, maintaining gut integrity, and much more. The good bacteria feed on fiber and help you digest it; they can die off on a low-fiber diet, which can make digesting fiber hard at first. If your diet does not currently contain a lot of whole grains, starchy vegetables, and legumes, your body may have already adjusted to a low fiber diet. 

Switching to a high fiber diet can cause unpleasant symptoms at first: abdominal bloating, stomach pain, intestinal gas, fatigue, moodiness, cravings, and/or headaches. This can be quite painful, but it is not a sign that this diet doesn’t work for you. It is only a sign that your body has to readjust to the new foods. If you are worried, increase the fiber more slowly. Your microbiome will begin to flourish, enabling you to efficiently handle the fiber which is vital to our good health!

Some gas may be unavoidable, but over time it should not be painful. If is helpful to know that: “Gas production is a normal, healthy function of the intestines which appears to protect the colon against genetic damage leading to cancer. It dilutes carcinogens, stimulates beneficial bacterial growth, favorably alters the gut ph, and improves the function of the epithelial cells of the colon” (Becoming Vegan, 87).

Note: The advice on this page is not intended as medical advice for people already experiencing chronic disease. See note below.

Useful Strategies

  • Cook foods thoroughly and chew foods thoroughly. (The more you cook and chew, the less work your digestive system has to do to break down the food.)
  • Use beans sparingly until your body has adjusted; increase slowly.
  • Use lentils, split peas, and other small legumes which are less problematic than the larger beans.
  • Try Beano or other products with digestive enzymes that can help prevent gas.
  • Soak legumes overnight before cooking. (If this does not help, a sure-fire way is to sprout the beans: cover the beans with water for 12 hours, drain off the water, then spread out the beans on a damp paper towel and let sit for about 12 hours. When you notice tiny white shoots (1/16th inch long) begin to appear, the beans are ready to cook. Cooking time is less after sprouting.
  • Continue to slowly increase the amount of fiber in your food and then consume it regularly. Good bacteria feed on this fiber, and the more good bacteria there is, the more easily they can digest the fiber.

Plant Foods that Tend to Produce Gas

For some people, certain plant foods tend to produce gas even if they are used to a WFPB diet. These foods include: legumes (especially beans, but also split peas and lentils) and some cruciferous vegetables (like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts). Other less common gas producers include: onions, bagels, pretzels, prunes, apricots, carrots, celery, green peppers, bananas, and wheat germ. Each person can be different, so pay attention to what seems to affect you the most. Other sources of gas, especially food additives: inulin, chicory root, sugar alcohols. See: “What Foods Cause Gas?”

If you find one or more of them affect, you might eliminate these particular foods or use them sparingly.

For More on the Microbiome

I wrote a 10-article series for Meridian Magazine on the microbiome and human health: “Will the Destroying Angel Pass Us By?”

Experiencing Chronic Disease?

The advice on this page is not intended to be medical advice for people with chronic disease. Please refer to competent medical advice if you have a severe gastrointestinal disorder, auto-immune disease, food allergy, type 2 diabetes, or other chronic disease. While a high fiber whole food, plant-based diet can be key to your recovery, you may need expert advice on how to implement this diet (and adjust your medications) given your specific condition. Otherwise, you run to risk of some symptoms getting dramatically worse.

Last updated March 12, 2016

“I charged boldly ahead into a beautiful new wonderland”

Lindsay MaxfieldBy: Lindsay Maxfield

In the summer of 2014, on a night much like every other night, I carried one of my three children up the stairs for bed. It felt like the 100th time that day that I carried someone up or downstairs, and it very well might have been — just a few months earlier, our family of three grew to a family of five when I gave birth to identical twins.

Twin pregnancy is not for the faint of heart. It is a grueling, physically demanding task that left me nearly unable to walk by the end of those nine long months. Of course giving birth to two healthy and beautiful baby girls made it all worth it, but being able to finally reclaim my body as my own was the icing on the cake. What’s more, I gained a newfound appreciation for my body that no other experience could have given me. I was fiercely proud of what I had accomplished and realized that my body is indeed miraculous, incomparable, a divine gift, and capable of a herculean task given to few.

But despite this newfound respect, my body still was not quite able to do all the things I needed it to do as a mother of three young children. At least not comfortably. I realized this that summer night as I paused at the top of the stairs, ever so slightly out of breath, and had this sobering thought: My babies would keep getting bigger, and I’d still need to keep carrying them up and down the stairs.

I knew that if I wanted to be able to accomplish the physical tasks yet ahead, I needed to treat my body much better. Since my life already felt like a never-ending marathon of child wrangling and laundry basket hauling (among other countless household duties), I wasn’t about to turn to exercise to improve my health. Instead, I turned to diet.

Read More→

“Why did God invent food?!?”

Shara MitchellBy: Shara Mitchell

Up until the last year of my life, I have lived with one foot in the camp with the “health nuts” and one foot in the Standard American Diet (SAD). When I was a child, my mother taught me to love wholesome foods, vitamin supplements, and occasional fasting for detoxification. I was never really taught how to cook, however, and when I became an adult and got married, I wanted to please my family. Although I started out trying very hard to cook from scratch and make healthy foods, eventually I found that my family liked it better when I made recipes that were less healthy.

I had vowed to never let my children drink soda, but as many years went by (years of overwhelm that can wear a person’s resolve down), I not only started allowing my kids soda, but also found myself drinking Diet Coke daily… sometimes twice per day. My kids hated chunky vegetables in the soup that I loved to make, so I stopped making it and made the creamy soups that made them happy. My husband at the time seemed to appreciate it more when I gave in and kept the peace by serving less healthy foods, so I felt like I was alone, and I gradually gave up my resolve to feed my family in a healthy way.

Although I had never struggled with weight, energy, or general heath after my first two babies, things started to change after baby number three. I couldn’t get rid of the last 10 pounds of baby weight, and I started to feel really tired and achy much of the time. My stress level was high, and I was overwhelmed with small children. I basically ignored the problem, and coped by doing yoga to ease the muscle tension that at times would overwhelm me. I wasn’t really exercising much and my cooking was “survival cooking”… cheese quesadillas and juice, you know, convenient kid food.

Read More→

“I gave it a three-month trial”

Elon MangelsonBy: Elon Mangelson

My dad was a wonderful gardener. I grew up eating crisp fresh radishes, tender green onion, luscious red ripe tomatoes (my favorite), and many other earth jewels that sprang up under his watchful eye. We had a chicken coop full of chickens who supplied our eggs and a cow or two that lived out back and gifted us with rich creamy milk for our growing family, which eventually swelled to 11 of us including mom and dad.

Our diet was composed of mostly clean, homegrown unadulterated food. My dad was always telling us that we should eat meat sparingly, in times of cold and famine. The usual pattern was to eat vegetables with boiled potatoes and milk gravy made with a browned flour rue or vegetable soup and other variations during the week. Then our meat meal was reserved for Sunday dinner.

I don’t exactly know how my dad got to be such an unrelenting advocate of what he considered healthy eating. He became the real food police. No black pepper in the house since it was hard on the lining of the stomach. Mustard was questionable. No double desserts for birthdays, only cake but no ice cream—already too much sugar. No added sugar in the hot cereal we ate each morning. Deep fried foods were another no no. Some unexplained disappearances of sweets were solved when one day we found a half eaten cake, dry and hard, safely hidden in Dad’s dresser drawer.

After graduating with a PhD in biochemistry and nutrition, Dad could lay claim to being a real professional. He became a much sought after public speaker on the Word of Wisdom and its implications for everyday eating habits. He delved into the parts of the Word of Wisdom that many had not even considered before. I emerged from all this with a pretty healthful attitude toward food and respect for trying to eat well.

Read More→

“Hodgkin’s Lymphoma made me the perfect student”

Katherine ScottBy: Katherine Scott

One of the most liberating pieces of knowledge I have learned is that the human body has the ability to heal itself. It has the power to heal any ailment or disease. Changing the diet is the ticket. If we continue to feed our bodies the same foods that made us sick in the first place (the typical dead American diet), then the body will not have the vitality it needs to heal. Changing to a vegan, living food diet provides the vitality for each cell in the body to detox and heal. This information is the hidden treasure that has been buried and most of us never find it, but “when the student is ready the teacher appears.” I WAS READY!

Nine months of chemical onslaught from conventional treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma made me the perfect student. I was ready to soak up everything I needed to know to get out from under the grip of fear. The fear of the cancer reoccurring was with me every moment of every day. I held a negative vision of a dire prognosis during my first check-up scan after I had finished treatment. I thought to myself, “I can’t live like this, fearing the worst.”

I wanted a day without fear. Ann Wigmore did more than that. She opened the door for me to the knowledge of green juices, living foods, and a way of eating that restores the body’s ability to heal itself. The information that is contained in her book, The Wheatgrass Book, inspired me so much that I immediately followed the instructions on how to grow wheatgrass. I don’t recall it being difficult. I obtained trays, organic soil, organic seeds, and a set of shelves, and set them up in my kitchen. I was living in London at the time and had no problem growing it. I took delight in seeing how quickly the grass grew.

The juice didn’t taste all that great, but I knew it was powerful stuff. There were times when just the smell of the grass juice would make me feel nauseated. I remedied that by holding my nose as I drank it! Because I knew it was good for me I religiously consumed 2 ounces of juice every morning. That wasn’t too hard to do for my health and peace of mind. That was way back in 1996, and I am thankful to say I have not needed the service of a physician since that time.

Read More→

“We love the food. We love how we feel.”

Michelle Jones FamilyBy: Michelle Jones

Our family was introduced to the whole food plant-based (WFPB) diet on March 23, 2013 when we watched Forks over Knives. My husband walked in the door that night to the exclamations of our elementary-aged boys saying, “Guess what, Dad! We’re vegan!” Boy, was he surprised.

With a host of health problems, including a recent three-year collapse, I was desperate for answers to my health woes and willing to try anything—although I did have reservations about a diet that didn’t include meat, dairy, or eggs. That went against everything I had ever learned in school.

We had always eaten lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, but, at the time, we also had four dairy goats that we milked twice a day. I made yogurt and cheese several times a week, and we drank all the goat milk we wanted. Our ducks provided us with five fresh eggs every day, which I also managed to use with no problem. Meat wasn’t as big of an issue for us. With seven children (six of whom are boys), I always tried to stretch meat as far as possible—frying it and mixing it into our soups, chili, casseroles, etc. But I could immediately see that eliminating not only meat, dairy, and eggs, but also refined flour, sugar, and oils from our diet was going to be a hardship.

And it was. In spite of the four vegan cookbooks that my enthusiastic son ordered online from the library while we were watching Forks over Knives, I was at a loss. I had cooked from scratch for our family for twenty years, yet didn’t know how to cook without those “staples.” The first few weeks were a cooking nightmare. It felt like all I did was stand in the kitchen all day and chop fruits and vegetables. Physically, I felt miserable—tired and moody with lots of headaches.

Read More→

Figuring Out What to Eat on a WFPB Diet

By Jane Birch

Figuring out how to eat a healthy plant-based diet is difficult for several reasons:

  1. Our taste buds are accustomed to meat and processed foods (with lots of salt/sugar/fat), so it takes time to learn to really appreciate whole foods. (Don’t give up until you get there because real food is very delicious!).
  2. Learning new ways of preparing food takes time.
  3. Cooking whole foods from scratch inevitably takes longer, especially at first, so we have to readjust our thinking and habits. (Once you master new skills, you’ll find all kinds of ways to cook very quickly when needed.)
  4. Everyone’s tastes and habits are different so there is no one set of recipes that works for everyone. (Others can provide ideas, but you have to work out the solutions on your own. Enjoy the adventure!)

For some people, making this change can feel a bit overwhelming at first, especially if you are trying to feed a family. Keep it simple! Don’t expect to be perfect overnight. Even though it takes effort, you can do it, especially if you decide you’re going to keep working until you succeed.

I know it is do-able because I started with literally zero cooking skills. I struggled so much that I finally got on the McDougall Discussion Board to plead for help. Others with experience responded with lots of great recipes and other ideas for succeeding. (You can read the posts here: “Help! I’m NOT enjoying my new food.”) I can now feed myself relatively quickly with minimal effort, and I VERY much enjoy my food. It does not feel like a sacrifice. It feels like a GREAT blessing.

With this diet, you will primarily be cooking from scratch—there is really no way around it. Unless you can afford to hire a cook or know someone who will cook for you, you will be doing a lot of cooking (or if you plan ahead: reheating).

You can find literally thousands of free recipes online. Of course, you don’t need thousands. Most people do fine most of the time with 6–12 recipes, but you may need to explore more than that before you figure out what you like and what works for your lifestyle. 

Beginner Strategy to Finding Foods You Will Like

Read More→

“I now know I can be the person I want to be”

Chelsey RussellBy: Chelsey Russell

I started my whole food, plant-based (WFPB) journey 7-ish years ago—I just didn’t know it at the time!! I read an amazing book called Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom by Christiane Northrup. She covers women’s health in pretty much every way possible, and I instantly fell in love with the book and Dr. Northrup. One of the things she wrote about that really impacted me was the harmful effect of dairy products. She explained:

“Human milk, a living, dynamic food, is designed for the optimal growth and development of baby humans. Cow’s milk, very different in composition from human milk, is designed for the optimal growth and development of baby cattle.”

That statement just made so much sense to me, and I was immediately grossed out, and freaked out—like oh my gosh, why are humans drinking milk that is made for/from another animal?? And how have I never thought about how disturbing/unhealthy that is until now?? She then went on to explain a lot of health problems that dairy has been associated with, and sure enough I was “suffering” from one of those issues . . . good ol’ acne—and it was bad.

You know when you are reading or listening to something and you can just totally feel of it’s truth? Well that’s what happened to me while reading this book. The Holy Ghost told me that what I was reading was true . . . seriously. Moroni 10:5 says, “And by the power of the Holy Ghost, ye may know the truth of all things”—ALL things, how awesome is that??!!! On multiple occasions the Holy Ghost has testified to me the truths of eating a WFPB diet.

When I first gave up milk, my intent was to give up all dairy except for the occasional treat here and there. And I did, for a bit. But the treats started becoming more frequent, and then my husband’s job moved us to Texas—where I had been introduced to Blue Belle ice cream as a child—and the whole “dairy as an occasional treat” went completely out the window. Blue Belle ice cream was soooo nostalgic for me—so as long as the ice cream was Blue Belle it was OK to eat all the time??—Haha, crazy, I know! I was eating an entire pint of ice cream almost every night after putting my daughter to bed, like seriously almost every night. Craziness! I still believed dairy was bad, I just chose to ignore that for a bit, because well, I felt that this ice cream was worth it. It reminded me so much of my summers with my nana and papa where we ate a bowl of Blue Belle every night—so it felt, and tasted, soooo good. Oh yeah, and I was totally addicted.

Read More→

“I find so much joy as I prepare nutritious meals”

Anne Marie Yates FamilyBy: Ann Marie Yates

I first heard the term “plant-based diet” a year and a half ago. I was nearing the birth of my fifth baby and was anxious to lose the baby weight and get back into shape. I had successfully lost weight in the past on a high-protein, low-carb regimen, so I visited a body builder web site, ordered protein powders and selected menus and workouts to begin as soon as possible after my baby was born.

In the meantime, my sister told me about a documentary on Netflix called Hungry for Change. I watched it, and then I watched Forks Over Knives. Both films outline the dangers of eating the standard American diet (SAD) and show the benefits of eating a variety of whole, natural foods. Forks Over Knives introduced me to a wealth of information about the danger of animal protein, which was completely new to me.

I knew immediately I should not follow my high-protein, low-carb weight loss plan. I ordered books from many of the experts in the documentaries including Colin Campbell, Rip Esselstyn, John McDougall, and Joel Fuhrman. I read everything I could about a plant-based diet and was impressed with how closely it follows the Word of Wisdom. I had always had a nagging feeling that the “body-building” diet was not in line with the Word of Wisdom, but I didn’t realize modern research so closely backs up the “do’s” in the Word of Wisdom and not just the “don’ts.”

One of my favorite parts of more fully living the truths found in the Word of Wisdom is learning how following a plant-based diet can prevent most, if not all of the commonly accepted diseases related to aging. Last spring, my mom lost her fourth sibling to cancer, my beloved Aunt Wilma. I felt very helpless as I realized that cancer seems to run in my family, and I prayed to know how to eat as healthfully as possible to avoid future illnesses. After watching the documentaries, I felt empowered that I could control my own health destiny. I decided to have my cholesterol tested to get a starting point to go from, and was shocked when the results came back high! I committed to six months of not eating animal products of any kind. I was retested in February and my cholesterol was down 30 points and is now in the “safe” zone. I am striving to lower it even more, and I love how healthy and strong I feel when I follow this way of eating. My migraines, body aches, acne, mood swings and cravings are greatly diminished, if not gone altogether.

Read More→