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We’re almost there!

Our 21-Day Plant-Based Challenge starts on October 30 and we’re so excited to get started with you.

If you haven’t joined yet, you can do so by signing up here.

You can also read more about the Challenge here.

We know it’s not easy to make a big lifestyle change. And you may have loads of questions as we near the date.

During the Challenge, you can count on:

  • A supportive community where you’ll receive inspiration and guidance from like-minded peers and the Plant-Based Life Foundation team.
  • The fabulous Four Foods Cookbook which offers 21 days of mouth-watering plant-based recipes to try during the Challenge.
  • Daily video lessons where you’ll learn more about plant-based nutrition and how to make lifestyle changes.

While we wait, we wanted to share some extra advice on preparing for the Challenge.

Let’s get started!

Some Very Basic Guidelines

Before we discuss cooking and eating, here are some general tips to remember moving forward:

  1. Focus on whole foods. Fill your plate with foods that you can recognize and name. Do your best to eliminate processed or packaged foods, even if they say “plant-based” or “vegan.”
  2. Keep it simple. If you’ve never eaten plant-based before, just stick to a few, easy recipes. This might sound counterintuitive, but the fewer recipes, the better. And the simpler the recipes, the easier the cooking. (In any event, most of us tend to eat the same 6-12 dishes over and over). Find 2 breakfast ideas (sweet or savory), 3-5 lunch items and another 3-5 dinner options and rotate them. You’ll have plenty of ideas in the Four Foods Cookbook!
  3. Stay close to “home.” If you love rice, focus on rice-based dishes. If you adore pasta and noodles, make those. If you’re crazy about potatoes, build your recipes around them. Too much experimentation too soon can shock taste buds that haven’t had enough time to adapt yet. The Four Foods Cookbook is divided into themes and feature ingredients, so you’ll find plenty of recipes with your favorite ingredients and flavors.
  4. Details matter. Pay attention to the small things, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. Whole foods that are high in fat such as olives, avocado and nuts should be eaten in small amounts.
  5. Avoid oils. Added oils, including olive oil and coconut oil, can impair endothelial function and get in the way of your weight loss efforts. All recipes in our Four Foods Cookbook are oil-free, and you won’t have to worry about it when choosing which recipes to try each week.
  6. Remember the principles of energy density. Humans eat an average of 3-5 pounds of food per day. Choosing foods with the most nutrition for the caloric content is the best way to ensure a healthful diet and help control your weight. Fruits have 140-420 calories per pound and lots of good fiber and nutrients; oils have about 4,000 calories per pound and have zero fiber and few nutrients. Get the best bang for your caloric buck.
  7. Eat the Four Foods. Foods with the most health-promoting effects are green leafy vegetables, beans, berries and seeds. Green leafy veggies are a great source of micronutrients and phytochemicals; beans are also high in micronutrients and phytochemicals, plus they’re packed with protein and fiber; berries have the highest amount of antioxidants among fruits; and seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and phytochemicals. Fill your plate with the Four Foods every day.

Fast, Easy Homemade Solutions for Main Meals

The Four Foods Cookbook is full of recipes that are delicious and simple to prepare. You can follow each day in order or choose a few of your favorites to make each week. In addition to the recipes in the Cookbook, here are some fast and easy main meals to try.

  • The Salad Bar: Keep pre-washed mixed greens, lettuce or baby spinach ready to go. On shopping day, buy non-starchy veggies that you can easily add to your greens – bell peppers, onion, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, snap peas, and others. Wash, cut and store them in separate containers. When you get hungry, you can make a huge salad in less than five minutes. Just remember to keep your favorite oil-free dressing in stock. The Four Foods Cookbook has over 30 oil-free salad dressings you can prepare at home with simple ingredients!
  • The Potato Bar: Keep baked potatoes in the refrigerator. When you get hungry, simply heat one up and add your favorite toppings, like your salad bar veggies or cooked beans or mushrooms. Toss in a little green seasoning such as green onion, cilantro or parsley and you have a yummy, comforting, filling meal that won’t set you back.
  • The Mexican Restaurant: Have you noticed that Mexican restaurants use dozens of ingredients in dozens of different ways? Peppers, onions, beans, tortillas, and rice all combine in unique ways to make different dishes. By keeping these staples on hand, you can make tacos, burritos, fajitas, rice and beans, and other meals. With very few ingredients, each variation gives you a brand-new dish. (And this isn’t just limited to Mexican. You can play the “restaurant card” multiple ways. Try the Indian Restaurant to experiment with different kinds of rice, curries, and levels of spiciness. Or the Chinese Restaurant with seemingly endless varieties of veggie stir-fries.)

Fast and Easy Solutions for Snacks

The Four Foods Cookbook does not include snack recipes because the meals are designed to fill you up and leave you satisfied. If you feel you need a snack, we suggest turning to nutritious whole foods.

  • Fruit: Have an apple. Or a banana. Or a handful of grapes. They’re nature’s simple, perfect, self-contained snack food. Carry fresh fruits with you and keep plenty on hand at home.
  • Cut-Up Veggies: Just like the salad bar, do the prep in advance so it’s easy to grab some celery, snap peas, bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers or – my absolute favorite – jicama (eat it plain or squeeze some lemon juice over it like they do in Mexico). Tip: hummus is a great spread or dip for raw veggies. It comes in dozens of varieties and it’s super easy to make at home. (Be sure to make it or choose brands without oils.)
  • Air-Popped Popcorn: It’s easy to make with a home air popper. If choosing a bagged microwave popcorn, check the food label and ingredients list to ensure that it is oil-free and salt-free.

One Last Thought

One of your biggest challenges might be learning to see food as fuel for your body instead of as some form of entertainment.

We know.

Fuel isn’t as exciting as entertainment.

While you can get “foodie” style whole, plant-based meals, there’s no need for anything so elaborate.

Because on a whole food, plant-based diet, you’ll be giving your body the fuel it needs and the nutrition it craves. And the food will taste delicious!

With this information, plus the Four Foods Cookbook and our private community, you have everything you need to prepare for the Plant-Based Challenge.

Get ready for 21 days filled with fun, friends, and incredible plant-based food!

Rosane Oliveira, DVM, PhD

President & CEO, Plant-Based Life Foundation | Dr. Rosane Oliveira combines a lifelong passion for nutrition with 25 years of genetics research to create programs that help people develop healthy habits on their journey towards a more plant-based lifestyle. She is a Visiting Clinical Professor in Public Health Sciences and was the founding director of the first Integrative Medicine program at the UC Davis School of Medicine. She completed her postgraduate studies in Brazil and did her postdoctoral training in immunogenetics and functional genomics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.