J. Morris Hicks, trying to make healthy eating easy, fun, delicious and powerful in so many ways.

Eating 4Leaf in a Toxic World

Not being much of a cook myself, we did not include any recipes in our book. But we knew that people would need them, so we’re bringing them to you here. In December of 2011, we launched:

Lisa’s 4Leaf Recipe Page

Lisa’s page now has almost twenty recipes and each one contains a photo of the dish and a one-page PDF that you can print. The list of recipes continues to grow but only when Lisa creates a recipe that she truly loves—and she is very particular.

First of all, she likes for all of her recipes to be scored in the 4Leaf range with over 80% of the calories coming from whole plants. If you have a recipe that you would like to share with Lisa for inspiration, you can email it to her:

For tips on tweaking traditional recipes to make them healthier, continue reading…

Meal Engineering 101 — turning average meals into great meals

As you begin to embrace the concept of taking charge of your health by maximizing your daily intake of the health promoting whole plant foods, you will soon learn that the vast majority of the menu meals (and recipe meals) come up way short when you compute the percent of their calories from whole plants.

Our target here on the 4Leaf Program is 80% — we try to derive at least 80% of our daily calories from whole plants – in nature’s package. We call the process meal engineering — simple, easy, fun and capable of doing some great things for your health.

The process oftentimes begins with a fairly decent meal and then turning it into something great. Years ago, I noticed an attractive dish on our yacht club menu called Tiger Shrimp with grains, seaweed, and a medley of vegetables. My meal engineering process was simple as I said to the waiter, “I’ll have the Tiger Shrimp, hold the shrimp, double up on the grains, vegetables and seaweed…and just have the chef adjust the price accordingly.” After years of eating this way at my club, they now have the following entree on the printed menu, priced at $15, well below ALL the other entrees:

The Hicks Special

a selection of whole grains & fresh vegetables

Like to save money? My “engineered” meal at most restaurants turns out to be about half the price of the other entrees. And the meal usually looks great and tastes great — often prompting the person next to me at the bar to say, “I’m gonna have what he’s having.”

What about recipes? Like menu items, most fall way short on calories from whole plants — even many of the ones in vegetarian or vegan cookbooks. But they are easy to re-engineer. As we run across great looking recipes – with pictures; we will share them with you here. A few examples are posted below. Also, don’t miss the great 4Leaf recipes on this website from Lisa’s Kitchen.

For vibrant health; whole plants, in nature’s package, are highly recommended – like this Adirondack Breakfast

Before we posted them, we reviewed the ingredients and estimated their score on our proprietary “4Leaf” system.  In our system, a “3-Leaf meal” derives over 60% of its calories from whole plants – in nature’s package. For the “4Leaf” level, that kicks in at 80%. This is compared to less than 10% for the typical western diet.

Most published recipes contain some oil or cheese, while we recommend none. All oil is 100% fat and is not recommended.  Ann Esselstyn says you can stir-fry or cook in ANY liquid, including wine or beer. Note that anything posted here will be cholesterol free and we recommend NO added salt or sugar for any of the dishes.

Check out the following meals from the Recipes for Health section of the New York Times. After reading our comments, you can click on the link and see the great picture along with ingredients, nutritional info, etc.

  1. Mushroom Hash with Black Rice. From the NY Times on Feb. 15, 2011. (without the egg) On the surface, this appears to be a pretty healthy dish; but in checking the ingredients, we found that the 1/2 tbsp of olive oil per serving accounts for almost 1/3 of the total of 192 calories. By eliminating the oil (it will cook just fine without it), this is definitely a “4-Leaf” dish. With the oil, it would be a “3-Leaf” dish.
  2. Black Beans and Rice.  NY Times, 5-31-10. This is one of those handy side dishes that can be used almost every day; one that you can cook up a large batch on Sunday and make it last until the following weekend. Lot of fiber and almost 100% whole plants. Even with the modest 1 tbsp of oil for an estimated six servings, this dish is probably in the “4-Leaf” range.
  3. Stir-fried Quinoa with Vegetables and Tofu. This dish looks terrific but needs some modification to qualify for the “4-Leaf” level. Eliminate the 1 tbsp of oil per serving which accounts for over 25% of the meal’s total calories. Next, double up on the veggies and cut back on the tofu, which is 50% fat. Coupled with the fat in the oil, without these changes, this meal would derive about 35% of its calories from fat; our daily target is to get less than 20% from fat. And, while plant-based, tofu is not a whole plant – in nature’s package. After tweaking this fine looking dish into a health-promoting 4-Leaf meal, this recipe could become one of my favorites and most frequently enjoyed meals.
  4. Recipes for Health Page in the Times. This is a great reference page with a very comprehensive list of ingredients and meal themes…with description, nutrients, etc. Someone recently asked me what quinoa was; just noticed it on this handy list in the Times — with this handy info along with a lengthy list of “quinoa” recipes (see above).

Quinoa (pronounced keh-NO-ah or, sometimes, KEEN-wah) is a relative newcomer to the American pantry. The tiny, ancient Peruvian seed, which has a mild, nutty flavor, is related to leafy green vegetables and is often used like a grain. Quinoa is as versatile as rice but it has a protein content that is superior to that of most grains, because it contains all the essential amino acids. In particular, quinoa is high in lysine, an amino acid important for tissue growth and repair. It’s also a good source of manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and copper, and it has a high iron content.

Quinoa is very easy to cook. It’s important to rinse the seeds well, because they are naturally coated with a bitter substance that protects them against birds and other predators. Most packaged quinoa has already been cleaned, but it doesn’t hurt to soak and rinse it just in case. Quinoa cooks in 15 minutes, and it’s easy to tell when it’s done because the seeds display a little white thread that curls around them.

Positive, simple, flexible and powerful!

Finally, I want to share one more great recipe page with you; it is a blogpost featuring four short videos. Katherine is an instructor for both the T. Colin Campbell Foundation plant-based nutrition course and the PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine). I highly recommend that you take a look and watch for more video recipes from her in the future.

Katherine Lawrence video cooking class

If you like what you see here, you may wish to join our periodic mailing list. Also, for help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4-Leaf page. From the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

If you’d like to order our book on Amazon,  visit our BookStore now.

—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at

2 Responses to Recipes

  1. Ben says:

    First of all thank you for posting all of this wonderful, eye opening information. My wife and I are now fully set on a plant based diet thanks to your efforts and the recipes are very helpful and great tasting. A suggestion that I am sure someone has already thought of and who knows may even be working on at this very moment is the creation of an ingredient/food app. While there are plenty of apps for Vegan this and that, it is hard to know which ingredients are not only vegan, but shall we say “Forks over Knives” friendly. While out shopping it would be immensely helpful to pull up the app enter the food or ingredient and get a thumbs up or a thumbs down. You could even have a details link for more information. I know it is a lot of work and trust me I would do it if I had the know-how, and most importantly the time, but alas I am only a convert and a mathematician.

  2. Stephanie says:

    Thank you for the link to the quinoa recipes. I especially love red quinoa and I am excited to have new ways to use it. I found out earlier today that you are speaking here next month. Can’t wait!

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