If you were to picture what the inside of a whole and natural foods pantry looks like, it would be to imagine it filled with a variety of nutrient-rich, health-promoting plant foods: Fruits, grains, berries, leaves, roots, legumes, flowers, nuts and seeds.

Fruits include the parts of plants that contain seeds such as tomatoes, apples, mangos, melons, oranges, peppers, cucumbers, and pumpkins. Grains are the seeds themselves: quinoa, oats, barley, corn, wheat, and the like. Roots are the parts of plants that grow below the ground, producing vegetables such as yam, sweet potato, colorful beets and carrots, turnip, radish, garlic, onion, shallots, ginger, arrowroot, turmeric, fennel, and cassava (the root from which tapioca is made). Flowers are broccoli, cauliflower, dandelions, and so on. Nuts and other seeds: walnuts, almond, cashews, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flaxseed, and more, contain a wide range of healthy fats, protein, and fiber.

RicherEarthVeganEats (Sept Veg Corner)

“A wholefood kitchen is a living, breathing space where we translate intent and knowledge into food that can heal, nourish and delight. But is also so much more than this. A kitchen filled with whole and natural foods is a powerful place – it is where our most fundamental needs for nourishment are met – from the food we eat to sitting around a table with our loved ones and laying down our burdens of the day.” This is an excerpt from the book Wholefood From the Ground Up by Jude Blereau.

LEGUMES Generally speaking, legumes (or pulses) are an affordable low-fat, low calorie source of high quality protein that contributes to good nutrition and health. As you begin to move the pendulum in the other direction and slowly move away from animal protein, you will find that these highly “satiating” foods are worth embracing as part of a healthy and sustainable diet. Most legumes also contain significant amounts of fiber and resistant starch found only in plant foods. Fiber, and resistant starch, helps to regulate bowels and remove the toxins in our bodies. Almost all varieties of legumes provide iron, zinc and B vitamins, among many other nutrients.

So what exactly are legumes, and how do we cook with them? This group of foods comprises of soybeans, peanuts, fresh peas, and fresh beans. Pulses are dry beans, dry peas, chickpeas, and lentils. Beans boast important assets: For one thing, they’re easily stored and almost never go bad. Because they are dried, their shelf life is more or less unlimited. Second, there’s a lot you can do with beans. To cook them, is in some ways the simplest part of this discussion. Beans are always cooked in liquid, and that liquid is usually water. Most beans double or even triple their bulk during cooking; that is, 1 cup of dried beans yields at least 2 cups of cooked beans.

RicherEarth Vegan Eats, Sept Veg Corner

LEAVES The many different types of leafy green vegetables available to provide you with exceptional nourishment are nothing short of astonishing. Not only can you choose from dark green leafy vegetables from the cruciferous group (for example, mustard greens, turnip greens, kale, or collards), but you can also choose green allium vegetables like leeks and green lettuces like romaine. Consider including leafy greens and other leguminous vegetables across all subgroups when putting together your weekly meal plan.

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©Photography by Eartha Lowe