Planning ahead for a food challenge is a daunting task for me. I want to double-check the recipes: one person’s single serving can be another person’s two servings. The recipes have to meet a few criteria: I want to use products I can easily find at my local grocery store and coop; I don't want to buy an unusual ingredient that will end up wallowing in my fridge or pantry until I mercifully throw it away after it rots or outdates; and I want recipes that would deliver flavor with a combination of ingredients with herbs and spices. I abhor bland food, except mashed potatoes and gravy and other “comfort food” items that I cook on rare occasions. Finally I want recipes that yield several servings so I don't have to cook a large dish every day. I especially like to use recipes I can freeze; if I can’t, I want to be sure I don’t make such a large quantity that I burn out from eating it too often or throw it away because I can't eat it fast enough.
Since I eat a plant-based whole foods diet as often as I can, I decided to use "The Forks Over Knives Plan: How to Transition to the Life-Saving, Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet" by Drs. Alona Pulde and Matthew Lederman (both were featured in the FOK film) as the guide for my upcoming challenge. Almost half the book is devoted to explaining plant-based whole foods diet and offers some excellent tips for staying on track. The authors offer some important insights into calorie density, why enough food is important, and the importance of grains in addition to greens and veggies. For me, a greens-centric diet is not satisfying; I really need a more rounded diet that includes starches. I think I’m a secret McDougaller – secret only because I’ve never put my food flag in one particular camp.
This 4-Week Meal Planning Guide is the roadmap for my challenge www.forksoverkniv
My other guide isn’t a cookbook and has little if anything to do with food: Gretchen Rubin’s book, “Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives.” gretchenrubin.com
Her Habits Manifesto makes a lot of sense to me:
1. What we do every day matters more than what we do once in a while.
2. Make it easy to do right and hard to go wrong.
3. Focus on actions, not outcomes.
If you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend it.
For years I’ve been following a plant-based whole foods diet. Before that I ate a mainly vegetarian diet with occasional nods to my upbringing by eating BLTs, Southern-style sausage, and fish. Had I know about seitan sausages, homemade vegetarian bacon using coconut or tempeh, and kelp as an ocean-like flavoring, I probably wouldn’t have strayed at all. When I changed my diet to PBWF, I thought I would miss dairy products like cheese and yogurt – I almost never drank milk before. I was wrong – it really wasn’t that difficult to eliminate those cravings.
The problem was me. I was stuck in a rut for about a year and a half, longer than that if I’m really being honest. Too many life challenges piled up, and I didn’t pay enough attention to what I was eating. After all, Oreos don’t contain any animal products, right? Skipping meals and trying to catch up with one big meal doesn’t have any effect on me, right? The life challenges have lessened somewhat. I’ve come to grips with the death of my employer and mentor last summer; I had 2 unexpected eye surgeries in May and June and can see well for the first time in a couple of years (Note: If you’re cleaning your eyeglasses frequently and think you need to change your lamps because everything seems so dark, have your eyes examined! Your eyeglasses probably aren’t dirty at all. You might have cataracts like I did. I literally could not see out of my right eye and didn’t even realize it!) What’s the remaining health challenge? I have bone on bone osteoarthritis in both of my knees and wasn’t sure if I could bear the pain much longer. Fortunately I have a great orthopedist who listens to his patients. He has changed my treatment, and I have experienced major improvement in the 2 weeks since my last injections. OK, you say, what does this have to do with improving your diet? My answer: everything! That’s why I’m embracing Gretchen Rubin’s philosophy. Old habits that I thought I had eliminated resurfaced and wreaked havoc with better, healthier habits that I thought I had mastered. It turns out that life is not as simple as that.
Now that my health issues are under control, I am doing what I can to improve my diet and get back to as much of an exercise program as I can while working around injuries that are permanent until I have knee replacement surgeries in the future. This blog began as a post on the Forks Over Knives team. When I originally posted it, I had just started to map out my own program using the meal planning guide. As I started to plan meals and develop lists for grocery shopping trips, I noticed a few things that didn’t look right. Most of the recipes make several servings, but few are featured more than twice in the 4-week rotation. Some can be frozen; other cannot. I decided it would be worthwhile to plan menus and use the recipes that appeal to me, using the recipes in the plan. It’s my challenge after all! When I cook, I like to use paper copies of recipes when I can so I can keep my cookbooks free of kitchen gunk. I think this is really an excuse to do what I have loved doing for much of my personal and working life: research. I love the challenge of digging through mounds of information to find what I need. That’s probably why Forks Over Knives and Gretchen Rubin ended up together in my mind.
These are the recipes for the 4-week challenge, though I’m going to eliminate the first week because it’s really for newcomers to this way of eating and only features breakfasts. I’m a lifelong oatmeal fan and will use supplement my beloved porridge with some of the new-to-me or “takes longer to cook than oatmeal” recipes for the other 3 weeks of breakfasts. The recipes listed below are in alphabetical order. On my own scribbled copy of the team post, I noted the day (e.g. 16) and the meal (e.g. dinner). Then I scratched all of those notes out because I wanted my challenge to fulfill my requirement of a recipe yielding several servings so I don’t have to cook a large dish every day. Batch cooking was made for people like me.
I probably won’t start the actual challenge until mid to late October because I have a lot of demands on my time between now and then. As a result, I know I won’t be home at meal time enough to make the commitment to the challenge that I want. Also, I have a lot of food in my freezer that I want to use before I start it. Between now and then, I’ll develop my weekly grids, develop shopping lists, and generally prepare myself for my first food challenge in over 2 years. This will be fun!
Listed below are the recipes or suitable alternates that I found online. If a recipe on the plan isn’t on this list, it means I couldn’t find a copy or a reasonable substitute online. Once again, here’s a link to The Forks Over Knives Plan 4-Week Meal Planning Guide that is the roadmap for my challenge www.forksoverkniv
Banana Mango Ice Cream – No copy online, but here’s one for basic banana ice cream www.forksoverkniv
Big Breakfast Burrito - This is essentially a tofu scramble wrapped in a burrito. I couldn't find Del's version from this book online, but I’ll probably substitute his Breakfast Burrito recipe from "Better Than Vegan” and vary the ingredients to use what’s on hand; adding some sweet potato to any tofu scramble is never a bad idea. fromatovegan.com/
Black-Eyed Pea Burgers www.celebritiesje
Breakfast Fruit Crisp - I couldn't find this online, but here is Chef AJ's Cranberry Apple Crisp. It would be delicious for breakfast or dessert www.forksoverkniv
Butternut Squash Soup with Sauteed Green Peas and Pesto Sauce www.thugkitchen.c
For some reason, the bloggers didn’t include the pesto sauce: 2 C packed fresh basil, 1/4 C pine nuts, 1 clove garlic, 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper, sea salt. Place in blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Transfer to small dish and sir in 1 – 2 Tbsp water to make a creamy paste. Place a spoonful on top of the sautéed green pea topping.
Corn and Black Bean Cakes www.forksoverkniv
Baked Breakfast Polenta with Berry Compote – Del uses packaged precooked polenta for this recipe, but I will probably use a batch of Basic Polenta www.forksoverkniv
because fresh is always best. To make the compote, prep a quart of fresh berries (any kind). Add to a saucepan with 2 Tbsp maple syrup, 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Cook over medium heat 7 – 8 minutes until berries break down. You could make a larger batch and freeze portions to use later in the 4 week program or to have when fresh berries are out of season.
Chewy Lemon Oatmeal Cookies www.forksoverkniv
Chickpea Chili on Baked Potatoes – I couldn’t find Darshana’s recipe online, but I found this beautiful recipe by Tori Avery and will omit the oil, sugar, salt, and cashews so it meets the FOK Plan guidelines. toriavey.com/tori
Chocolate Raspberry Parfait – rouxbe.com/recipe
Cream of Broccoli Soup www.forksoverkniv
Creamy Spinach Soup rouxbe.com/recipe
Hollywood Bowl Brown Rice Salad www.forksoverkniv
Jamaican Fruited Rice Salad - Couldn't find this online, but Del's Rice Salad with Fennel, Orange, and Chickpeas would be a great substitution www.forksoverkniv
Lentil Vegetable Stew – I couldn’t find Darshana’s recipe online, but I did find her recipe for Lentil Vegetable Soup – an excellent substitute www.forksoverkniv
I love the picture of this soup!
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy www.forksoverkniv
Millet Croquettes with Dill Dipping Sauce – rouxbe.com/recipe
Del’s recipe for Curried Millet Cakes with Red Pepper Coriander Sauce, which would be an excellent substitute www.forksoverkniv
Multigrain Pancakes with Fresh Berries www.cowgirlsandco
Navy Bean Hummus and Mixed Vegetable Pita Pockets –This is on Google books. I’ll use the book or type the recipe title into the browser on my laptop.
Potato Scramble www.forksoverknives.com
Potato-Vegetable Chowder – I couldn’t find Del’s recipe online, but I did find this recipe for Lotsa Vegetable Chowder www.forksoverkniv
It would be a great substitute.
Red Beans and Quinoa www.forksoverkniv
Rice Casserole with Lentils and Sautéed Vegetables www.chicvegan.com/revie
Roasted Stuffed Winter Squash www.chicvegan.com
Shepherd’s Pot Pie – I couldn’t find Del’s recipe for this online, but I did find his recipe Lentil Shepherd’s Pie with Rustic Parsnip Crust www.forksoverkniv
Parsnips aren’t in season now, but they’ll be glorious by the time I start this challenge. They’re such an overlooked root vegetable; I love them!
Shiitake Mushroom Lettuce This is on a secure link for Pinterest members. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/
266556871671410377/ It’s another recipe for the laptop or just using the book – or substituting with something else.
Sloppy Joe Pitas – I couldn’t find Chef Del’s recipe online, but I might substitute this recipe by Heather McDougall www.forksoverkniv
Del’s recipe uses bulgur; Heather’s uses lentils, which I prefer.
South of the Border Pizza www.forksoverkniv
Spaghetti with White Bean Alfredo – No luck on my search for Del’s recipe, but I love this recipe from Katie Mae for Low-Fat Mushroom Fettuccine Alfredo www.plantbasedkat
Spinach Potato Tacos www.forksoverkniv
Sweet Potato Lasagna – The page number in the book is incorrect in the pdf; it should be 213. No online version available for this recipe, which uses white sweet potatoes instead of yams.
The Easiest Granola – This recipe is on a YouTube video – a secure link that I can’t post live on SP. https://www.youtube.com/watch?
I might make this basic granola recipe from Cathy Fisher instead. Granola isn’t very interesting to me, probably the result of overeating it in the ‘70s. www.straightupfoo
The Quickest Breakfast Wrap - This is hardly a recipe; it's so easy! Spread a 10-inch whole grain tortilla with 2 Tbsp of your favorite nut butter of the moment. Top with 1 Tbsp unsweetened apple butter (Eden brand is very good.). Top with a sliced banana and 2 Tbsp raisins (or currants). That's it!
30-Minute Chili womansworkconsult
Tortilla Soup www.forksoverkniv
Twice Baked Breakfast Sweet Potatoes www.forksoverkniv
White Bean and Rosemary Spread – I couldn’t find Del’s recipe online, but this one from Serious Eats is pretty close. If I make these changes, I’ll have Del’s version: add 3 Tbsp roughly chopped shallot and 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar; omit the oil and lemon (though I would keep the lemon and not use vinegar – just my personal taste preference). www.seriouseats.c
…And because I never seem to stop at the edges of a project, here’s more info I found to share.
Recipes from the book available online but not included in the 4-week plan pdf for possible use in place of recipes that couldn’t be found:
Apple Crisp www.tipsonhealthy
Easy Thai Noodles www.forksoverkniv
For more recipes by Darshana Thacker, visit her website www.darshanaskitc
You can view all of her recipes on Forks Over Knives here www.forksoverkniv
Del Sroufe has written recipes for each cookbook in the Forks Over Knives franchise. He also wrote “Better Than Vegan,” a must-have cookbook. There are a few recipes on his website chefdelsroufe.com
You can view all of his recipes on Forks Over Knives here www.forksoverkniv
All of the recipes on the Forks Over Knives website meet the guidelines set forth in “The Forks Over Knives Plan,” so use them freely when you start developing your own set of meal plans www.forksoverknives.com
Though not in the book, these recipes meet the guidelines. Use them like you would any recipe from “The FOK Plan.”
Breakfast Potatoes by Ramses Bravo from his book "Bravo! Health Promoting Meals from the TrueNorth Kitchen" www.forksoverkniv
Breakfast Burrito Bake from Cathy Fisher is delicious for any meal of the day! www.forksoverkniv
Roasted Buckwheat Salad www.forksoverkniv
Grilled Veggie Salad www.forksoverkniv
This recipe is from “The Plantpower Way” by Rich Roll and Julie Piatt.
Sweet Potato - Black Bean Enchiladas from "Better Than Vegan" plantbasedjunkies
Note: The cauliflower puree in this post has nothing to do with the enchilada recipe, so consider it a bonus recipe. It's Chef Del's puree that he uses in many of his recipes.
~~These recipes are from “The Forks Over Knives: The Plant Based Way to Health” edited by Gene Stone and certainly could be used in the rotation of breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes on the plan. www.huffingtonpos
~~From “Forks Over Knives – The Cookbook”
Ethiopian Wild Rice Pilaf www.forksoverkniv
Green Chile Rice with Black Beans www.forksoverkniv
Thanks for reading! If you want to join me in my challenge, please send me a SparkMail. I’ll let you know the start date when I finalize my schedule. In the meantime, enjoy good health, eat well – the more plants, the better - , and be happy!