Simple ways to eat lots of whole plants — with minimal hassle
The first step in achieving a 4Leaf score every day is to begin with a 4Leaf breakfast. My first meal of the day is always a big bowl of fresh, delicious seasonal fruit, like the fabulous looking dish pictured here. This one contains one small serving of each of the following: navel orange, Bosc pear, banana, strawberries and blueberries.
After using the “Recipe” function on nutritiondata.com, I quickly determined that this delicious meal contained 287 calories, only 8 of them from fat. It also contained 12 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein, lots of calcium, phyto-chemicals and many other nutrients.
Speaking of recipes, I have never cooked a single meal from a recipe. Okay, as a single guy, I know that I am not typical; but I enjoy good food and drink as much as the next guy. The key is acquiring a taste for the whole plants, getting good and hungry before you eat it — and remembering that this great diet-style is all about CELEBRATION! Not deprivation.
The luscious meal above was eaten at 8 AM and was followed by my Sailors Daily Oatmeal at 11 AM. It contained 468 calories (less than 10% from fat), 13 grams of fiber, 11 grams of protein and a plethora of other nutrients that ONLY plant-based foods can deliver. So, before I have my main meal of the day (at 3 PM), I have already eaten 25 grams of fiber — all from whole plants, and the percent of my calories from fat was only seven percent.
While taking pictures yesterday morning, I decided to take a picture of a key portion of my Sailors Super Lunch and/or Dinner. It is a mixture of various whole grain rices and various home cooked (not canned) beans.
I prepare this mixture weekly and store in individual meal containers that I keep in the fridge until needed. The entire preparation of this key ingredient requires less than one minute per meal — that includes the cooking, packaging, storage and clean-up.
Along with my exotic mixture of “rice and beans,” I always include at least five or six other fresh vegetables in season (preferably organic & local) — ending up with a total meal that contains 605 calories (15% from fat due to high-fat avocado), a whopping 26 grams of fiber, 27 grams of protein, 341 mg. of calcium and not a single morsel of saturated fat or cholesterol.
The first step in building my daily Sailors Super Lunch is “popping” this pre-prepared dish of rice and beans on the plate shown here. After loading the rest of the plate with lots of fresh veggies, it is ready to zap for two minutes. (Okay, I have no idea if microwaves cause cancer, but I sure as heck hope not.)
To summarize; in my 1360 calories consumed through my “big meal” of the day, I have consumed zero cholesterol and only about 12% of my calories from fat — along with a colon cancer-fighting 51 grams of fiber — ALL of them from whole plants.
So if you want to “eat 4Leaf,” the key is making sure that you eat high in the 4Leaf range for ALL of the meals that you routinely prepare at home. When I leave the house in the evening, my percent of calories from whole plants (in nature’s package) stands at well over 90%. So, I can slide down to only 65% of my “dinner calories” from whole plants and still finish above 80%, the beginning of our 4Leaf range….leaving a little wiggle room for my adult beverage of the evening.
The most important part of eating high in the 4Leaf range at home — is shopping for groceries; for if it goes in your shopping cart, it is going to end up in your stomach. I mentioned earlier that I don’t ever cook from recipes; that’s because I have learned to love eating whole plants — I like my broccoli crunchy and I prefer my spinach barely cooked (or raw) so that it looks like leaves instead of mush. Keeping it simple works for me — maybe it will work for you.
Later, we may write another book and call it “The 4Leaf Companion,” that will be full of 3Leaf and 4Leaf recipes; but for now, we recommend that you get your recipes from the written works of Joel Fuhrman, John McDougall, Caldwell Esselstyn, Rip Esselstyn and Dean Ornish.
All of them may not be 4Leaf, but they will all be plant-based — and, with a little tweaking, you can probably make them 4-Leaf. On the Meals 101 page, we show you how to make great meals out of average meals.
One final note; although I am not a great cook and have never used a single recipe myself, no one who has ever dined in my home has complained — and they have always cleaned their plates. I say, “Don’t get hung up on recipes; keep it simple, buy whole fresh plants, get creative, season your meals well and develop a healthy 4Leaf habit that you can stick with.”
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 HealthyEatingHealthyWorld.com
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I don’t know if you are familiar with the Tassajara cookbooks and bread book, but Edward Espe Brown, who wrote them, is a Zen teacher, chef and author in California. Tassajara is a retreat out there. Anyway this post of yours brought him to mind, speaking of simplicity. First the book dedication for “Tassajara Cooking”: “Dedicated to Pumpkin, Carrot, Cabbage….Potato, Radish, Beans…..The Ground which gives Life.”
Then a poem at the beginning of the chapter, “Cooking Vegetables”:
“Whatever is done will not make a cucumber
more of a cucumber or a radish more of a radish.
Cucumber is cucumber, radish is radish,
What is done may make a vegetable more suitable
to some particular taste – that’s the usual way,
to see what taste we want. But why not
ask the cucumber, why not ask the radish?
What is the taste it would like to express?”
I found out that there is now a film featuring him, called “How to Cook Your Life,” Here is a link to the trailer, which is entertaining:
His cooking is not entirely plant-based, and yet he definitely has a reverence for the food that I think is important too. Anyway, your post here made me think of him.