Plant Based Cooking Made Easy

Jill and Jeffrey Dalton launched the Whole Foods Plant-Based Cooking Show on YouTube in 2015. That was by no means the beginning of their plant-based journey. In their recently published cookbook, Plant Based Cooking Made Easy, they give an honest account of their lifelong struggles with the meat and dairy-based Standard American Diet, also known very appropriately as the SAD diet.

Jill and Jeffrey met and married when Jeffrey was 21 and Jill was 22-years old. Together, they decided to improve their diet and began searching for a sustainable, healthy way to eat. There were many twists and turns along the way, from fad diets to fasting as they read numerous books on nutrition.  Sometimes they lost weight and improved their health, but repeatedly found themselves lured back to the addictive SAD diet.

Finally in 2014, just before Jeffrey’s 40th birthday, they decided to embrace a Whole Foods Plant-Based (WFPB) lifestyle inspired by Dr. Joel Furhman’s book Eat to Live. Both quickly experienced dramatic improvements in their health – Jeffrey lost 70 pounds and his prediabetic blood sugar levels returned to normal, while Jill lost 25 pounds and her migraines and unexplained heart palpitations disappeared.

At long last they had discovered the key to sustaining a Whole Food Plant Based diet – creating simple yet delicious WFPB recipes for the meals they loved including pizza, tacos, and chocolate cake. Better still, they are passionate about sharing their recipes with as many people as possible. Beginning with their first YouTube show in January 2015, Jill and Jeffrey have filmed a weekly show for the past 6 years! Their repertoire of over 100 recipes was ideal for a cookbook…and it was published in November 2020.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jill and Jeffrey via Zoom recently and was so impressed by their clear commitment to sharing the benefits of a WFPB diet not just to one’s health but to our planet. Hard at work on their second cookbook, they graciously shared photos and recipes with MyCookingMagazine. Honestly, it was difficult to choose from their vast collection of main dishes, breads, sauces, salads, salad dressings, and of course, desserts. I finally selected a hearty breakfast dish that is perfect for brunch, a tasty main dish pilaf you will love for the upcoming holiday season, and for dessert Hummingbird cake. As Chef Judi’s fans know, Hummingbird cake is one of her trademark masterpieces! Try this plant-based version and see if your friends and family can tell that it is oil-free, sugar-free, and gluten-free. The challenge on! Be sure to share your experiences in the Comments section at the end of this article.

 Once you try these recipes, I am sure you will agree that this cookbook deserves a spot on your bookshelf. In addition to plant-based versions of your favorite recipes, the authors have included helpful tips and lists of what you need to become a successful plant-based home chef.

The best feature is a QR code for each recipe that link to the Whole Foods Plant-Based Cooking Show recipe blog and how-to video. I like to view a recipe on my phone while cooking and with one tap you can follow along on any device. I have not seen this included in another cookbook before and I am an avid cookbook collector. It’s genius!

These sections are also provided – including the brand, make and model of many items- with more detail than included in my summary.

  • Tips for Going and Staying Plant-Based
    Clean out your pantry and fridge. Here is what to toss:
    Dairy, Eggs, Meat and Animal Products, Oil, and Processed      
    Food-including vegan “junk food”!
  • Core Ingredients Checklist
    Some items to stock up on include Nutritional Yeast, Braggs     
    Liquid Aminos, Raw Cashews, Organic Gluten-free Oats, and     
    Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • The Right Tools
    • Essential Items: High Power Blender, Food Processor, Sharp Knives, and a Pressure Cooker or Instant Pot or Crockpot.
    • Optional Items: Dehydrator, Spiralizer, Mandoline Slicer, and Stainless Steel Pots

I don’t know about you but I’m getting hungry. On to the recipes!

Breakfast Skillet

When you’re in the mood for a hearty breakfast, this dish is ideal. Packed with roasted veggies, potatoes, and protein-rich tempeh, it is a filling and satisfying choice for breakfast, brunch, or dinner. Serve with a cool green salad or a bowl of mixed berries for a healthy and delicious start -or end- to your day!

Serves: 4  

Prep Time: 15 Minutes  

Cooking Time: 35 Minutes

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup low sodium vegetable broth
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp parsley flakes
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp thyme
4 russet potatoes
8 oz mushrooms
2 bell peppers of your choice
2 small zucchini
6 oz tempeh
1 cup low sodium vegetable broth
1 tsp onion powder
1 Tbsp Braggs liquid aminos or low sodium soy sauce
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Cut potatoes, peppers, zucchini and mushrooms into bite sized pieces or cubes.
  4. Mix the broth, cumin, smoked paprika, parsley flakes, pepper, and thyme in a large mixing bowl.
  5. Place the potatoes into the bowl and stir until well coated.
  6. Scoop potatoes out onto one of the baking sheets and spread evenly, leaving liquid in the bowl.
  7. Place the mushrooms, zucchini and peppers in the bowl with the remaining liquid and stir.
  8. Pour peppers, zucchini and mushrooms onto baking sheet and spread out evenly.
  9. Bake potatoes and pepper and mushrooms for 30 minutes.
  10. Place the diced tempeh into a large frying pan along with the 1 cup vegetable broth, onion powder, Braggs, pepper and smoked paprika and cook on medium high for 5 minutes.
  11. Once potatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, and peppers are done, add them to the tempeh mixture and cook for 5 minutes.

GBOMBS Mushroom Pilaf

Don’t be fooled by the title of this recipe…this creation is the bomb! GBOMBS is an acronym created by Dr. Joel Furhman, author of Eat to Live, which translates to Greens, Beans, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries, and Seeds. It serves as a helpful reminder to incorporate these core plant-based foods into your daily diet, and this dish has them all. Perfect substitute for the traditional stuffing at gravy at upcoming holiday meals, this “pilaf” features veggies as the star of the show instead of lower nutrient rice. Yum!

Serves: 6 

Prep Time: 15 Minutes  

Cooking Time: 20 Minutes

INGREDIENTS

GBOMBS Pilaf:
2 large onions finely diced
2 cups finely diced mushrooms
4 cups chopped spinach
1 pkg tempeh finely diced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup diced sunflower seeds
1 tsp fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp sage (optional)
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp Braggs liquid aminos

Mushroom Sauce:
2 cups diced mushrooms
1 tsp Braggs amino acids
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup cashews
1 Tbsp cornstarch mixed into 3 Tbsp water

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Add all pilaf ingredients to a large pan and cook until Mushrooms and onions are soft
  2. Add all sauce ingredients except mushrooms to a blender and blend until smooth.
  3. Add mushrooms and sauce to a saucepan and cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Add cornstarch mixture to sauce and stir until thickened.
  5. Serve sauce over pilaf.

Hummingbird Cake

You will not believe this lusciously moist cake is oil-free, sugar-free, and gluten-free! Schedule a taste test soon with your friends and family. Bake Chef Judi’s trademark Hummingbird Cake (recipe in her cookbook, Reflections and Recipes) and Jill and Jeffrey’s plant-based version and let the games begin! Be sure to share your outcomes in the Comments section below.

Serves: 12  

Prep Time: 15 Minutes  

Cooking Time: 35-40 Minutes

INGREDIENTS

Cake
3 1/2 cups rolled oats ground lightly into flour (over grinding will prevent bread from baking through)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 cups mashed bananas (4 bananas)
1 cup crushed pineapple
3 flax eggs (3 Tbsp flax meal + 6 Tbsp water)
2 cups dates
2 cups unsweetened almond milk
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups walnuts or pecans (toast in 350° oven for about 5 minutes)

Frosting
2 cups cashews (soaked in 4 cups water for 2 hours)
4 medjool dates or 8 deglet dates
juice of one small lemon
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp water

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Mix the flax meal and water together in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Mix together the oat flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
  4. Blend the dates, almond milk, and vanilla in the blender until smooth.
  5. Stir the blended mixture into the dry ingredients.
  6. Fold in the flax egg, mashed bananas, and pineapple.
  7. Fold in 1 1/2 cups of the walnuts.
  8. Divide mixture between 3 parchment lined cake pans (9 inch)
  9. Bake for 35-40 minutes.
  10. Let cool
  11. Add all frosting ingredients except for the 2 Tbsp of water to blender and blend until smooth.
  12. Add remaining water if necessary while blending frosting.
  13. Place cake on a cake tray or plate.
  14. Smooth on about 1/2 cup of the frosting onto the top of that cake.
  15. Add second cake to the top of that.
  16. Smooth on about 1/2 cup of frosting onto the top of that cake.
  17. Add third cake and use remaining frosting to frost entire top and sides.
  18. Sprinkle remaining walnuts on top of cake.
  19. Keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Here are a few more recipes to tempt your tastebuds

West African Peanut Sauce

This is actually a stew made with tomatoes, onions, cabbage, and kale with peanut butter and tofu for protein and a variety of spices to punch up the flavor. Delicious served as is or over rice or steamed greens.

Thai Sauce with Zoodles

A healthy alternative to pasta, and gluten-free as well. The longer the noodles sit in the sauce, the tastier they become.

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCh2D2ss44sKdb6l7iGU7eLg
Buy Books (Amazon): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1578268796

Lori Rodgers – Lori’s passion for food and fine dining began at an early age. She started reading Gourmet at 8, and was fortunate to have a father who included her in his travels to cites across the US, often frequenting restaurants she had read about in the magazine. After studying hotel and restaurant management at FSU for two years and thoroughly enjoying the summer program in Switzerland, she graduated with a degree in International Business with a minor in Spanish. Lori owned and operated the family business, Bert Rodgers Schools of Real Estate for 25 years, indulging her cooking hobby by whipping up meals for family and friends on the weekends. She has two teenagers who have adopted a vegan lifestyle, adding a new challenge to Lori’s cooking repertoire. Lori recently sold the business and is embarking on a new chapter and new career, returning to her true calling, cooking and exploring the multifaceted world of food!
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