When I went to college, I was fortunate enough to end up sharing a floor in a house with three bedrooms and a kitchen, above a photography store in Leiden, Holland. The two other students, a boy and a girl were almost never there, for they spent most of their time with some “significant other,” and I had the kitchen mostly to myself. Now I was raised vegetarian, with something like vegetables, potatoes and some protein dish. Once in a while we might have a rice-based dish (always brown rice!), and once in a while a pasta dish (always whole wheat pasta). In those days, we were still part of the protein dogma, which has resulted from never-examined 19th century beliefs about nutrition that keep being handed down through the generations – this was the reason for a concern about how do we get our protein. Lots of eggs, and cheese, mushrooms, and sometimes beans. I learned different since then, especially since I studied a lot of the literature about Whole Foods Plant-Based nutrition, and eventually obtained my certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Institute for Nutritionstudies, in 2017.
As a student, my first act was to get myself a pressure cooker to cook rice, and a wok to cook my veggies. For protein, I would eat tofu, tempeh, mushrooms, or eggs, and sometimes beans. And, as a student, with constant budget pressures, I learned to cook for less. I am now going to revisit that issue, #WFPB-style, for with inflation issues, many people are struggling with getting healthy food, despite crazy budget pressures. Periodically, we hear stories of seniors resorting to eating pet food, because they feel they can afford nothing else, but this is based on the mistaken belief that protein is an important nutrient. Lately we see reports of a crisis with even pets dying from the lousy quality of pet food, and some of the outright toxic ingredients. In short, understanding the realities of nutrition based on the lifetime of work by T. Colin Campbell, PhD., we can navigate our way to living cheaply, but still get healthy nutrition.
I am going over the principles here again, and I will continue this topic with specific recipes on my Starling Avenue Plant-Based Living blog. I will try to keep it systematic, in terms of Cheap, Cheaper, and Cheapest, and number the recipes, so that you can find them. Meanwhile, a very good source of information is the Four Leaf Program, you can do their survey either online or in print form, but it is a simple self-inventory that shows you how healthy your nutritional intake is, and thus enables you to make adjustments as needed. A very good source of information is the website Plant-based on a Budget, which is highly recommended.
First Principles for #WFPB nutrition
- 80% of calories should come from unrefined carbs, because the refining process eliminates a lot of nutrition.
- 10% of calories should come from naturally occurring fats & oils, like in beans, or flax seed, etc.
- 10% of calories should come from protein. An adult male needs about 10%, and women can get by on less, even 5-10%. Usually, on a plant based diet, most people might even get 10-15% of calories from protein. Rice and the lowly potato have 11% of calories from protein.
- No Sugar, Oil, or Salt – NO SOS. All of them are unhealthy. The only oil you should get is from naturally occurring fats like those in beans and a few nuts here and there, or an avocado.
The conclusion is simple. The food industry is out to make a profit, not to keep you healthy, so supermarkets are loaded to the gills with products that create margins, not health. The mission is to keep it simple, stupid, KISS. Keep your eyes on the basics, and avoid the foods that rob you of nutrients, and focus on the things that do give you good nutrition. It’s a journey, but it can be done! Happy cooking!