Working with wholefoods

The basic principles of preparing & cooking on a plant-based diet

{ setting up your health food home }

*This is strictly informational and not intended as medical or nutritional advice,
nor as a substitution for medical or nutritional advice.

here are some basic principles to keep in mind when cooking on a plant-based diet. 

1. Always start with the best ingredients you can. If you can buy locally grown and organic, great, if not, add in key ingredients when possible.

For example, shiitake mushrooms are much ‘meatier’ than regular white mushrooms, and so if I was doing a donburi bowl, I’d buy shiitakes every time. If the mushrooms weren’t the “star” ingredient, then go for whatever type of mushroom you’d like. 



2. Season well. If you’ve ever found vegetables boring, it’s likely because they were overcooked and underseasoned. A basic seasoning could be with Himalayan salt and black pepper. You can try flavour variations, such as lemon-infused Himayalan salt. Fresh herbs the secret ingredient when it comes to a plant-based diet.  Don’t be afraid of spices either!

3. Use a little splash of citrus (lemon or lime juice) or apple cider vinegar. The acidity helps to bring the flavours alive and to prevent oxidation of cut fruit or vegetables (if not eating immediately). 


{ tips for buying produce on the endo diet }


Buying your pantry staples such as nuts, seeds, grains and pseudograins in bulk (e.g. 1 kg) will make your subsequent weekly shopping lists shorter and easier. You can shop around by typing “1 kg almonds” into Google or use a wholefood store or Amazon as a one-stop shop. 


Fresh food has a short shelf life, so it’s best to do two small shops per week if you can, as the freshest ingredients provide the best texture and flavour. 


If you can support local businesses by buying their produce, they really appreciate it. Farmer’s markets are a wonderful way to support your local grower’s community and is a lovely way to shop. You’ll may surprised to find that local doesn’t necessairly mean more expensive than supermarkets. 


The common misconception with organic is that it’s pesticide-free. Organic means considerably less pesticides, so it’s still worth buying organic if you can. There are a number of organic box schemes available, such as Riverford Organics, which help you sync with the seasons. 


I never used to create shopping lists as I thought it was more time consuming to create the list than just go shop. Not so! I always ended up taking ages shopping because I was thinking of what to buy right there and usually forgetting to pick up a key ingredient. A little time planning ahead can save you time and headspace for the rest of the week.


{ tips for cleaning produce }


An apple cider vinegar wash is a great way to remove dirt, bacteria and pesticide residue from your produce. 

In a washing bowl, dilute 1 tbsp ACV to 1 cup of water. Soak the produce for 5 minutes, rinse and then hand dry with a tea towel or leave to dry fully before storing in the fridge.

Bulk wash your produce to save time. 


Non-organic produce is best peeled where possible (e.g. apples and pears) as the pesticide residue tends to soak deepest into the outer layer. 



{ tips for prepping ahead }


Without soaking, nuts and seeds contain fairly high levels of phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. This is to help protect them until germination. 

Soaking makes them far easier to digest and the nutrients more available to the body.

To soak, place the nuts or seeds in a bowl with 1 tsp unrefined salt (such as Himalayan salt), cover with 1 cup filtered water and place in the fridge. Soak for at least 7 hours. Rinse well before use.

If you want to speed up the soaking process, use hot water (though you will need to leave these out of the fridge in this instance).


Quinoa can taste bitter if not washed. All you need to do is place the quinoa in a sieve and give it a good rinse with cold water before using.


{ tips for cooking plants }


A complete guide to cooking grains and pseudograins can be found here (coming soon).


With stir fries and lightly cooked vegetables, slice your veg thinly and at an angle to maximise surface area, allowing you to cook quickly and retain crispness. Aim to cut the vegetables to the same size. 


Stir fries can be unhealthy if you use too much oil and can be easily overcooked, losing nutrients. 

Heat a little drizzle of oil (with a high-smoke point, such as avocado oil) to hot and throw in the veg. Stir for a few minutes and you’re done. You want to retain crispness so don’t expect to see the vegetables reduce in size/go soft. 

Alternatively, I use a splash of water in the pan and ‘steam-fry’ veg. You will need a lid for this.


{ tips for storing food }


Dry good such as your gluten-free flours and grains needs to be stored in a cool, dry place in a sealed container and ideally in the dark (a cupboard or pantry). 


Refrigerated food is best eaten within 3-5 days tops. Once you cut into produce, the oxidation process ramps up, so it’s best to store produce intact in their whole form. Having sealed containers can help keep produce fresh as this will limit the air supply from you opening the fridge regularly.  You can always make a quick pickle out of any veg you have going spare. 


Some produce freezes well, such as berries, whereas others don’t. Leafy greens tend not to freeze well. Freezing helps break down starches, so you can freeze bananas for this reason. Frozen bananas have a texture similar to ice cream, which is a good perk!

I sometimes batch make smoothies up in freezer bags, however, keep in mind these smoothies will be like slushies. 


Since bacteria will multiply rapidly in the danger zone of 5-63 degrees Celsius, food that is to be stored as leftovers must be cooled down as quickly as possible, sealed in an airtight container and placed in the fridge at below 5 degrees.
If you are reheating leftovers (often not necessary on a plant-based diet), reheat quickly till piping hot.
Tip: Too cool quickly, place leftovers in a sealed container and then place that container in the sink and submerge in cold water.



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The Endo Diet and its publications are strictly informational and not intended as medical advice, nor a substitution for medical advice. For medical advice, diagnosis and treatment please consult your physician or other qualified health providers. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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