If you didn’t grow up in a vegetarian family, learning to cook whole food plant-based meals can be quite a challenge at first. You have to find foods that are actually plant-based (not laden with oils and dairy), that meet the taste criteria, that fill you up enough and that don’t take all day to prepare. And for some of us – we have no one to ask advice from – just the Internet.
In this post I list four of my most relied upon recipe blogs/books and where to find oil-free recipes. I hope you will find something on my list of tried and tested resources to add to your own growing list of favourites.
Where do I start?
If you are just getting started, try not to be overwhelmed with choice.
Make it your goal to find five to seven meal recipes and cook them over and over again.
Make sure you are aiming at the right goal – see below:
Forks Over Knives
My first recipe source is at http://www.forksoverknives.com/recipes/ Click on ‘Recipes’ and scroll to the food genre you want to cook. You can also get the FOK App at the App store which works really well. Also, the FOK film, the FOK recipe book and the ‘How To book’: the FOK Plan. All great resources by doctors who cure diseases with plant-based nutrition.
My take: These recipes contain quite a lot of (wholemeal) bread, pasta and grains (comfort foods). That’s a good thing (don’t believe the Paleo group – see my blog post on this) – but during a long hot summer, this way of eating at each meal feels a bit heavy for me (although I am committed to getting beans in at least once a day). The FOK starch-based method is a terrific way to feed your men and children though, and provides endless energy with tasty, easy and sustaining foods.
Oh She Glows
My favourites recipe source of all time: http://ohsheglows.com/categories/recipes-2/ The website has many recipes, but do yourself a favour and buy the OSG book. It’s a great gift idea too.
My take: I cook these recipes for non-vegan family members and guests – and everyone loves them. Lots of (tasty) ingredients and spices, but every recipe is the bomb! They take a little longer to prepare than many of the FOK recipes (above) but, in my opinion, it’s worth it. One problem – I cook enough for leftovers of these meals, but by the time I look in the fridge for it the next day, it has usually disappeared. Angela Liddon from Oh She Glows uses some oil in cooking, but I usually leave it out or substitute some apple sauce or vegetable broth, without ruining the recipe.
The Rawsome Vegan Cookbook
Emily von Euw has the simplest but tastiest recipe book I’ve yet come across. She blogs at www.thisrawsomeveganlife.com and has literally dozens of recipes on her site. Half of this book has raw recipes, and half are lightly steamed (read – very few casseroles and soups and lots of assembled foods made easily from scratch). Most have a sauce made of whole foods (no oil, but quite a bit of tahini, almond butter, avocado) which is tangy and memorable – and this sauce goes over different combinations of nicely arranged food. So you have some plant fats over a selection of beautifully prepared whole foods – a perfect meal. See the top featured image for one example.
My take: I had been eating these foods almost daily for over a month before the real difference dawned on me – everything is gluten free – there is no flour used or flour products like pasta or bread. All I can say is that everything is terrific. I just love Emily’s take on vegan food and it makes me feel wonderful (more energetic, thinner). This sort of gluten free is the best sort – based on whole foods – not the fake, unhealthy gluten free concoctions you find in the grocery store.
The books of medical doctor, Dr. Fuhrman, contain the best nutrition information available today for the layman, in my opinion. His recipe book, the ‘Eat to Live Cookbook’ is just recipes, but all his books contain many recipes – I have every single one of them. Dr. Fuhrman loves experimenting in the kitchen and photographing what he and his wife cook. But he is as excited as a 5 year old about the nutritional benefits of what he cooks. So everything is super healthy, no oil, with the right amount of all the nutrients for overcoming disease. The books have very few pictures, but you can buy his wonderful DVD, Secrets to Healthy Cooking. His website includes several useful recipes too, but most are in the books.
My take: There are so many vegetables in these recipes you may find yourself doing a lot of chewing. My jaws got tired at first with this way of eating, but I’m glad to say, they’ve worked up to it! It can also take quite a lot of chopping to prepare mind-boggling masses of vegetables, since Dr Fuhrman uses relatively few grains, and no pasta or bread. Just LOTS (and I mean lots) of vegetables, fruit, seeds and beans. I finally used his suggestion and bought a Vidalia Chop Wizard (which wasn’t cheap, but saves significant time in the kitchen) – so now I can cut lots of fresh veggies in much less time. A blender and food processor helps too. Dr. Fuhrman is into people eating to actually overcome most diseases in advanced states, so he doesn’t mess with just a few vegetables – he loads them into everything. I learned more from these books about how to cook for health in a way that aggressively turns disease on its head, than from any other book. Very highly recommended.
What about Sweets?
One thing you will have found on your plant-based journey is that every plant-based website has plenty of sweets recipes. You’ll never feel you’re missing out.
However, if you are trying to overcome a disease or lose weight, I’d steer clear of sweets which are not mostly fruit. For desserts stick to –
- fresh fruit
- fruit sorbets (blended frozen fruit)
- stewed fruit
- fruit ice-blocks
and keep the vegan cakes, brownies, pies and slices for special occasions.
Oil free Dressings
One thing everyone should learn to make are salad dressings without oil. Oil is a high calorie processed food which doesn’t belong in a healthy diet (at least not in quantity). Whole raw nuts are an excellent substitute, and have been shown to reverse cardio-vascular disease. My inexpensive (under $100) blender blends nuts, fruit and vinegar perfectly into smooth salad dressings. Dr Fuhrman’s website shows what quantities make salad dressings that taste amazing. Make sufficient and put in a jar in the fridge. Emily von Euw’s website also has dozens of oil-free dressings.
Learning to cook without oil is described in the Forks over Knives recipes and Dr Fuhrman’s. You substitute vegetable stock, water or vegetable juices when cooking on the stovetop, and other alternatives for baking.
In time this type of cooking will become second nature, and you’ll be surprised how ordinary cooking tastes fatty, oily and salty and sits heavy in your stomach.
If you have a favourite recipe source, please comment below.