The One-Week Whole Foods Trial

by Bert Jackson on April 28, 2010

Shifting your perspective about food choices can seem daunting, and it can seem like a life sentence. For some, this is enough to give up before starting. The thought of never enjoying a pizza or a glass of wine again conjures up the old joke— Doc: If you give up smoking, drinking, fatty foods and sex you’ll live to be 100 years old. Patient: Why would I want to?

So here is the challenge. Don’t make a lifetime commitment. Give yourself a week. Try some very simple recipes. Here is a primer.

Shopping list (organic whenever possible!)
Let’s assume that you have some basics. I’ve mentioned a few other ingredients in the recipes that aren’t included here. While many of these items are available at a typical supermarket, better quality ingredients are likely to be found at your local natural food store and veggie market.

Medium grain brown rice
Rolled oats
Aduki beans, canned (Eden or other organic brand)
Other canned beans (again, organic)
Sea salt
Tamari (I get the wheat free. If you are sodium conscious, get low sodium as well)
Extra virgin olive oil
Toasted sesame oil
Organic limes or lime juice
Leafy greens (collard greens, kale, bok choy, not spinach*)
Acorn, Butternut or Buttercup squash


Brown Rice
Put one cup of dry rice in a heavy pot. Rinse well at least three times, until the water doesn’t appear cloudy. Add two cups of water and a pinch of sea salt. Stir and let soak for several hours (I do it either overnight or in the AM to cook late afternoon/evening). After soaking, bring to a boil then simmer on low for 45 minutes to an hour. Don’t stir. When the top looks a bit dry and you can’t hear the water bubbling in the bottom of the pot, you are done. Let it sit a few minutes and then you are ready to go.

Preheat oven to 375°. Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds, then cut into serving sized chunks. Mix a bit of olive oil with some tamari and a dash of nutmeg if you want. Lay out the squash skin side down on a baking sheet or wide pan. Brush the olive oil/tamari mix lightly onto the fleshy part of each piece. Bake for about 35-45 minutes, until pieces are soft throughout when poked with a fork.

Both the squash and rice can be used throughout the week in a variety of ways.

Fast Stir-Fry
This is a quick meal, especially if you have the rice and squash on hand.

Chop a few leaves of leafy greens, a few florets of broccoli, and a quarter of a large onion. Use an organic canola oil spray in a skillet or wok (I use a high-quality non-stick skillet**) and heat on high. As the pan gets hot add in the vegetables along with a bit of water (2-3 tablespoons). When the greens get brighter add in 3/4 cup of cooked brown rice and 1/2 cup aduki beans. Stir together. Add a teaspoon of tamari (or a cap full) and a few drops of lime juice. Scoop the flesh out of one of the cooked pieces of squash, cut into cubes and add it in. Mix everything well for a few minutes until everything is hot. Serve it up and you’ll have a tasty, very satisfying meal.

Morning Oatmeal
Bring 2 cups of water and a pinch of salt to a boil. Add 1 cup of rolled oats, stir, and simmer very low for 15-20 minutes. Stir once in a while. Serve it with a little soy milk, some chopped nuts, fresh fruit or a small dollop of agave syrup or brown rice syrup.

Tasty Veggie-Bean Soup
Chop 1 onion plus other veggies of your choice (I use up the veggies that are starting to pass their prime in the fridge). In a large, heavy pot heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the veggies and saute until the onions start to become translucent. And two cans of beans (I usually mix the beans, like garbanzos and black beans) and enough water to cover everything by an inch or so. Bring to a boil and simmer for 45 minutes. Add a pinch of sea salt to taste and enjoy.  You can vary the veggies (though I always start with onions) and the beans.

Miso option: instead of adding salt to your soup, use miso, which is a ferment soy bean paste rich in nutrients and flora for your gut. But don’t add miso to the pot. Boiling miso kills the flora. For each soup serving, take a bit of the broth and mix it with 2 teaspoons of miso (I use a suribachi). Different varieties of miso have different flavors, the lighter versions being milder, the darker having a more robust flavor. My personal favorite is barley miso from South River Miso.

Some things to avoid during the week

Part of the benefit from a whole food/natural food diet is not from what you eat, but what you don’t! Now some of these may be difficult to live without, but remember, we’re just trying this for a week, right? Give your body a vacation from some of these extreme foods:

Refined sugar
Flour products, especially white flour
Coffee and caffeinated tea (it’s only one week, remember)
Dairy products (yes, I love cheese, too. Just try it for a week!)

Observe the results

Watch how your body and mind react during the week. Sometimes, a sense of well-being in present after the first meal! Observe your sleep and energy levels. Keep tabs on chronic symptoms such as heartburn, joint pain and digestive issues. Sense how you feel!

Note: Sometimes a switch to a plant-based diet can have some embarrassing gastrointestinal results. You may want to add some pickled foods to your meals, like organic sauerkraut. Chewing very well also aids the digestion process. Some people have reported success with Beano, a natural enzyme supplement.

How’s it Going?

So if you are embarking on this experiment, let me know how it goes! This obviously just a taste of the possibilities. If you would like to explore further, please contact me.

* Spinach, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant are all part of the nightshade family and contain higher levels of oxalic acid. There are anecdotal reports that some people suffer more joint pain when consuming nightshades. This should be a personal decision. But for the purposes of our experimental week, won’t hurt you to skip them!

** Until recently I was not a fan on non-stick cookware. The surfaces were too easily damaged and the non-stick particles could be ingested (someone once joked this may help with constipation). Newer methods of creating non-stick surfaces bond much harder material to the pans more strongly. My personal favorite is Swiss Diamond.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sntosh September 4, 2015 at 8:40 am

The coconut soy sauce’ was a great aetirnatlve for using in our vegetable stir fry. We need more sauce’ ideas for use in all our veggie & grain dishes Any suggestions? March 24, 2016 at 3:00 am

I’m shocked that I found this info so easily.

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