Archive for food preparation

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

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→

Getting Started on a WFPB Word of Wisdom Diet

By: Jane Birch 

Congratulations on your interest in learning more about a “whole food, plant-based” (WFPB) approach to the Word of Wisdom! I hope you find something useful on this site that will help you in your own study and interpretation of D&C 89. If you’d like to give this diet a try, I’m happy to help. It is easier than you think because it is so wonderful to adopt new practices that dramatically change your life for the better.

The 3 Dietary Principles in the Word of Wisdom

From my perspective, a WFPB diet sheds light on the three dietary principles found in the Word of Wisdom:

1. All “wholesome herbs [plants] . . . in the season thereof” should be used with “prudence and thanksgiving.” (D&C 89:10–11).

The first principle focuses on the prudent use of wholesome (think “whole”) plant foods. From a WFPB perspective, wholesome plant foods include whole vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes (beans, etc.). Animal foods are not plant foods. Highly processed foods (including refined carbs, oils, and junk foods) are neither wholesome nor prudent. They are nutritionally poor, highly concentrated foods designed to get us to over-consume. Whole plant foods contain all the amazing nutrients God packaged them with, along with fiber and water which create bulk and satiety. (See also: Wholesome Herbs and Every Fruit)

2. Animal flesh is ordained for human use, but it should be eaten sparingly, and it is pleasing to the Lord if it is not used, except in times of need (“times of winter . . . cold, or famine” and “excess of hunger”) (D&C 89:12–13, 15).

Study after study show a correlation between animal food consumption, obesity, and chronic disease. From a WFPB perspective, since animal foods are not needed for nutritional purposes and unavoidably contain harmful substances, these foods should be kept to a minimum, if eaten at all, for optimal health. Better to save them for times of need. (See also: The Flesh of Beasts, Part I and Part II)

3. “All grain is good” and is ordained to be the “staff of life.” (D&C 89:14, 16).

Fruits and vegetables are great at providing nutrients, but not at providing calories. Whole grains, beans, and other starchy plant foods provide sufficient energy with none of the extreme negative features of other calorie dense foods, like animal foods and processed foods. They are delicious, satisfying, and (despite the current rhetoric) key to weight loss. From a WFPB perspective, the bulk of our calories should come from whole starchy plants, which are primarily the whole grains, such as wheat, barley, oats, rice, corn, and millet. (See also: All Grain is Good)

Step 1: Study the Word of Wisdom and a Whole Food, Plant-based Diet

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Reducing Fat in Your Diet and Cooking Without Oil

By Jane Birch

Reducing Fat in Your Diet

Whole plants naturally contain the macro and micro-nutrients we need in the right balance, so (unless you have a specific health condition that warrants it) there is no need to micromanage your diet. Focus on the big picture: eating a diet of whole (unprocessed) plant (not animal) foods. This diet is naturally very low in fat.

Because the American diet is so high in fat (average 35%), it may take some time for your taste buds to adjust to a naturally low-fat diet, but it will happen! It happens quickly from some people, but it may take up to about 90 days for others. The key is to totally eliminate high-fat foods from your diet so that your body and brain learn to adjust. It can help if you tell yourself: this is just for 90 days (rather than THIS IS FOREVER). I think it is easier to go cold turkey, but some people may prefer a slower, step-by-step approach.

Because this way of thinking is so foreign from our current food culture, the following suggestions for reducing fat may be useful, but remember: it is the big picture that matters.

1. Learn to identify high fat foods.

  • All animal foods: meat, dairy, and eggs. These are naturally very high in fat, unless the fat has been taken out (in which case they are unhealthy for other reasons).
  • All vegetable oils, including coconut oil. This goes without saying: these are all 100% fat. Even cooking spray labeled as “zero calories and fat-free” is 100% fat! (The FDA allows companies to round down to zero.)
  • Most processed foods. Check the labels, and read the ingredients. Calculate the percent of calories that are coming from fat. If 20% or more of calories come from fat, consider this a “high-fat food.” It is not uncommon for 50-70% of the calories to come from fat! (But note that most processed food, even if the fat has been removed, is not healthy.)
  • High fat plant foods. These include raw nuts and seeds (75–92% fat); avocados (88% fat); coconut (92% fat); and olives (98% fat).
  • Soybeans are relatively high fat (40%) and so are traditional soy foods (tofu, soy milk, tempeh, miso, edamame, etc.). Nontraditional soy products and “fake foods” made from soy (soy burgers, soy turkey, etc.) are usually VERY high in fat. (Because they are made from soy isolates, which are not healthy, even if they are low-fat they should be avoided.

2. Eliminate animal foods, oils, and high-fat processed foods. Read More→

Duffy’s WFPB Journey — March 2014

Yellow PotatoesLittle Wins

Along the way to achieving my ultimate weight loss and health goals, it’s important to celebrate the little wins….

  • My pants are looser. I noticed the change in my shirts last month, and this month my pants have felt looser and even started to ride a little lower so that I continuously have to pull them up and re-tuck in my undershirt.
  • I can reach the gas cap lever in my car! It was getting pretty dicey for a while there. It is located on the floor between the pedals and driver’s seat, and when I was at my largest weight, I’d have to hold my breath and lunge for it. Now I can reach down easily and without pain.
  • I’ve stayed 100% WFPB for ¼ of the year already!
  • A coworker noticed that I’ve been losing weight.
  • I reached and surpassed my first 50lb milestone; my visiting teachers took progress pictures.
  • I came home from an appointment last Saturday having put some potatoes in my countertop convection oven and then forgotten about them. My first thought as I opened the door was “Mmm, smells like brownies.” A few minutes later when I cut into one of the still-warm potatoes I thought, “This smells delicious!” Although I never before liked potatoes any way other than mashed with butter, I may be on my way to becoming a potato lover.

Read More→

Duffy’s WFPB Journey — January 2014

40-daysBy: Duffy

How does one open a blog post when they have accomplished the thing that was expected of them but that they didn’t know if they could do yet hoped to do and ultimately did do despite the initial white-knuckle, hanging-on-by-a-prayer doing of it? How about this….
40 days of 100% WFPB eating:

Whole Food, Plant-Based (WFPB) Food Storage

By Jane Birch

What impact does switching to a WFPB diet have on food storage? Fortunately, it makes food storage MUCH simpler and MUCH less expensive! You no longer need to worry about storing oil, dried milk, powered eggs, canned meat, etc. Instead, you can focus on storing the basic items like wheat, beans, and rice. This is not just easy; it is cheap! And if you are eating a WFPB diet now, you’ll know just how to use these foods in times of need. See also: WFPB 72 Hour Kits.

For a good overview of the basics and information on where to buy the food, go to the LDS Food Storage site. Here are the areas you need to focus on for food storage. The basics will be covered below.

  1. Food
  2. Water
  3. Cooking fuel and equipment

Food Basics

This formula makes it simple and easy to get the foundation of your WFPB food storage. You need a little more than one pound of dry food per day per person for about 2,000 calories/day. Store in a #10 can with an oxygen absorber or larger buckets using dry ice.

  • Wheat, rice, corn and other grains: 400 pounds per person per year (e.g. 200 pounds of wheat and 200 pounds of rice)
  • Beans: 60 pounds per person per year (e.g. 30 pounds of pinto beans and 30 pounds of black beans)

Wheat: soft, hard, red, and white (red wheat is good for cracked wheat cereal and sprouting; white wheat is good for cooking and making bread)

Rice: white rice is less nutritious than brown rice, but it stores better and does provide calories in times of need. Brown rice will actually store well for 6-7 years if stored in a cool dark place. The longer you store it, the more likely you’ll have a rancid oil smell when you open it, but it is still edible (wash the rice, and it will taste fine).

Beans: whichever kinds you prefer

For additional vitamins

The wheat, beans, and rice will provide some, but not all of the vitamins you’ll need. There are various ways to get extra vitamins. Here are some examples:

Multi-Vitamin: Store multi-vitamins for times of need. Read More→


By Jane Birch (Last updated January 20, 2015)

Choose a topic from the drop-down menu or below. If you’d like to see a topic address, please contact me.

Overcoming Challenges?

  1. Figuring out what to eat
  2. Giving up certain foods (overcoming food addictions)
  3. Dealing with other people (handling social situations)
  4. Weight Loss

Gluten, Wheat, Grain—and Other Food Sensitivities

Why Start Now?

Why Go 100?

WFPB Food Storage

Word of Wisdom Frequently Asked Questions


Whole Food, Plant-Based (WFPB) Recipes

By: Jane Birch

There are literally thousands of low-fat WFPB recipes online. You only need a half dozen to a dozen that you really like. Don’t get overwhelmed. Try a few here and there until you discover what you like!

WFPB Recipe Sites

Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen. Hundreds of well-organized recipes.

Forks Over Knives Recipes. Great recipes. Be sure to also sign up for the newsletter to get new recipes delivered via email.

Engine 2 Diet Recipes. Find more great recipes in Rip Esselstyn’s books.

Straight Up Food. Cathy is a great chef and a culinary instructor.

McDougall Free Program. This free program includes recipes to get you started: (see link to the “10-Day Meal Plan”)

McDougall Newsletter Recipes. This is a massive database of recipes, look for this link, along with other useful recipe collections.

The Cancer Project Recipe Index. Plenty of gems.

Center for Nutrition Studies

Naked Food Magazine. This is a WFPB magazine.

Protective Diet. Oil, Sugar, and Nut Free Recipes (requires free registration). Read More→

Overcoming Challenges on a WFPB Diet

By Jane Birch

While some people find it relatively easy to switch to a WFPB diet, most people should expect a challenge. Big change is usually difficult, and we should expect it to require dedication, persistence, a willingness to suffer some temporary discomfort, and a determination not to give up until we succeed.

Most things in life that are worthwhile take effort: getting an education, building a home, establishing a career, and raising children. Taking care of our bodies and feeding ourselves appropriately is one of the important tasks of earth-life and is essential to our well-being, both physically and spiritually. Trying to figure this out is worthwhile, even if it takes some struggle and trial and error. Since Satan has a vested interest in our continuing to eat unhealthy foods that deaden our sensitivity to the Spirit, expect and prepare for some opposition. But remember that the Lord cares even more what we eat, and He will help us if we are determined and reach out to Him.

Once you are convinced that a WFPB diet is worth a try, you will face a number of challenges. These are probably the three biggest. They are discussed individually on separate pages:

  1. Figuring out what to eat
  2. Giving up certain foods (overcoming food addictions)
  3. Dealing with other people (handling social situations)

Not every person faces all three challenges, but many do. Each challenge is difficult, and each takes time and effort to work through, but all can be overcome if you are willing to do what it takes to make it work.

Remember, Remember

If making the switch is not easy, it is definitely worth it. Look at all the sick people around us. What is your health worth? Yes, eating this way is not always easy, but living with cancer or heart disease is not easy either. Believe me, if you get heart disease, you’ll learn to live with it because you’ll have no choice. I would rather freely choose to eat in a way to prevent heart disease in the first place.

I believe the problem is not knowledge; it is commitment. All the scriptures implore us to “remember.” It is right there in the Word of Wisdom, “remember to keep and do these sayings” (D&C 89:18). We know what to do to take better care of our bodies, but it is easy for us to not “remember” to make the best choices. Perhaps one reason is that we feel we are only hurting ourselves. We don’t remember that we are not our own, that we were “bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20). And what a price that was. “Therefore,” Paul admonishes, “glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:20). If we believe this, what will it take to help us remember?

Ultimately, health reasons may not be enough to help us remember. I do believe our ability to commit ourselves to eating well is greatly strengthened when we see it in light of our religion and commitment to God, when we do it because we have a testimony that it is pleasing to Him. Gandhi, a life-long vegetarian, wrote:

Forty years ago I used to mix freely with vegetarians. . . . I notice also that it is those persons who became vegetarians because they are suffering from some disease or other—that is from purely the health point of view—it is those persons who largely fall back. I discovered that for remaining staunch to vegetarianism a man requires a moral basis.

Fortunately, we have the ultimate “moral” reason for eating a wholesome diet: an amazing revelation from God called the Word of Wisdom.

Last Updated: February 14, 2015