Back to basics: The stuff of bad childhood memories, even the word ‘cabbage’ sounds dreary – but forget all that and let this misunderstood brassica win your heart
Yes, there’s a Babel of nutritional advice. IMO there are three food items to avoid or reduce drastically.
1. Refined sugar. A little honey in your yogurt is no big deal, but cut back on anything containing refined sugar, HFCS, and all the various others (Google “hidden names for sugar”). Refined sugar is sugar processed so that it is acellular, e.g., not the sugar found in fruits and vegetables. Remember that even “healthful” alternatives like agave syrup are still refined sugars.
2. Refined grains. Conventional advice to eat more whole grains has resulted in people eating refined grains labeled as whole grains. If its a whole wheat berry salad, that’s a whole grain. If it’s milled into a flour and made into breads, cakes, cookies, and the like, skip it or reduce it at the very least. Even par-cooking whole grains (e.g. instant oatmeal) reduces the presumed benefits by reducing soluble fiber. There are those who argue that grain in any form, especially wheat, should be eliminated, but I’m not going to argue that point. The point of convergence of diets like paleo and plant-based diets would be cutting the refined grains.
3. Industrial seed oils. Corn oil, soybean oil, canola oil, “vegetable” oil, cottonseed oil, sunflower seed oil, and the like are all highly processed (with industrial solvents and bleaches) and are all highly susceptible to oxidative damage. Cooking and especially frying with these oils is going to release free radicals that damage the endothelium. These PUFAs are the worst choices with the exception of trans fats. Stick to traditional fats. Olive oil is an excellent choice, as is avocado oil, and if you are not put off by SFAs so are coconut oil, animal fats such as lard and tallow, butter, etc.
Cutting these removes basically all processed/junk/fast food.
Concentrate on cooking your own meals, utilizing whole foods (fruits and vegetables; include quality fish, meat, and eggs if you choose to). Don’t worry too much about macronutrient content, as that will sort itself out if you are eating this way. But I have found that carbohydrate consumption correlates to activity level, so if I know I will be running or doing a lot of physical work, I will carb-load. Exercise is beneficial, but the sweet spot involves not overdoing it and exposing yourself to chronic inflammation: a few intense workouts are better than hours and hours of gym work, and just moving around more is always good - walk more, take the stairs, etc.
Get plenty of sleep. Nurture your social interactions. Eliminate stress in your life. There are many lifestyle interventions that affect health, so don’t ignore them.
How to bake with vegetables
OK, so baking a courgette into a decadent cake won’t make it super-healthy, but you’d be surprised what it can do for the texture. The same goes for this clever, low-carb pizza base
In the heyday of 1970s vegetarianism, quiche was the go-to dish. Everybody was making them. When I taught vegetarian cooking classes then, quiche (not the classic quiche lorraine with lardons, of course) would be one of the first recipes I’d teach. I made them by the sheet pan for catering jobs; they were extremely popular, even though I now know that the crusts I made in those days weren’t very good, and the formula I used for the custard wasn’t nearly as satisfying as the formula I use now.