The Whole Foods Cookbook

120 Delicious and Healthy Plant-Centered Recipes


By John Mackey

By Alona Pulde, MD

By Matthew Lederman, MD

With Derek Sarno

With Chad Sarno

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$20.99 CAD



  1. ebook $15.99 $20.99 CAD
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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around October 30, 2018. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Whole Foods Market has long been synonymous with high-quality and healthy ingredients. Now, John Mackey, CEO and co-founder of Whole Foods Market, has teamed up with nutritional experts and leading chefs to create a cookbook inspired by these values. They know that cooking food yourself is the secret to changing your diet and sustaining a new lifestyle, and are sharing their favorite recipes that celebrate nutrient-rich, health-promoting whole plant foods.

The Whole Foods Cookbook philosophy starts with the basic tenet that the most important dietary change you can make is to eat more fruits and vegetables. To help you navigate the nebulous world of healthy eating, the authors have written a clear and friendly introductory summary of the Whole Foods Diet’s principles, the essential 8 foods to eat, tips on setting up a stress-free kitchen, and more. You’ll also find specific guides on cooking beans and grains, building flavors, and impressive techniques like sautéing without oil and roasting to add layers of flavor. But most tantalizing are their 120 recipes covering breakfast, smoothies, entrees, pastas, pizzas, healthy desserts, and more.

The ultimate goal of The Whole Foods Cookbook is to change your habits around eating and preparing food. In the midst of our busy lives, the last thing most of us need is an overly complicated diet. Get the basics right, learn to cook a few meals you love, and eat plenty of them. Once you become accustomed to the whole foods, plant-based lifestyle, you’ll quickly gain the confidence to create your own delicious variations.


The recommendations made in this book are based on the views of the authors, and do not represent the views of Whole Foods Market.


Kitchen Confidence

Do you want to know the secret to changing your diet and sustaining a new lifestyle over the long term? Cooking.

Preparing your own meals, in your own kitchen, gives you control over what you eat and a connection to your food choices that is hard to achieve any other way. We’ve helped guide thousands of patients, Whole Foods Market team members, friends, and family through the transition to a whole foods, plant-based diet, and we’ve concluded that the willingness and confidence to cook may be the key to success.

If you want to give yourself and your family the best chance of reaping the health benefits of diet change, the revolution needs to start in your kitchen. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with having a special dinner out once in a while, or getting takeout on occasion when you’re just too tired to do anything else. And, happily, it’s getting easier to find healthy, real food on restaurant menus. But if you eat out, order in, or choose premade meals too often, you’ll find yourself making countless small compromises that, over time, will add up to poor health. And too many families are doing just that. Research has shown that Americans today spend half as much time cooking as they did fifty years ago, and less time cooking than any other nation in the world.1 Meanwhile, sales of prepared foods have risen steadily.

If you’re someone who loves to cook, and you’re blessed with the time to prepare delicious, nutritious meals for yourself and your family, you may not need much encouragement to roll up your sleeves and get cooking. But for many people, it’s a daunting prospect. “I’m not much of a cook” is a common reaction. “I don’t have time” is another, as are “I’m too tired” and “My kids don’t like the food I make.”

As busy professionals, we sympathize with those sentiments. We know what it’s like to come home after a long day at work and feel like the last thing we want to do is put on an apron. We know how picky children can be. And we know how challenging it is to learn new ways of preparing food when we’ve spent our whole lives doing it the way our parents taught us. But we also know it doesn’t have to be as hard as it seems. With some basic techniques, a few simple ingredients, and a dash of creativity, you can prepare meals that will satisfy you and your family without taking too much time out of your day. Cooking doesn’t have to be complicated—it just takes a little confidence. And kitchen confidence is developed through rolling up your sleeves and trying new things! The one thing we can tell you without a doubt is that your investment of time and energy in the kitchen will be repaid many times over in the health dividends you’ll enjoy every day.

How to Use This Book

Those who are familiar with the principles of whole-food, plant-based eating may be ready to jump ahead and start cooking. If that’s you, bon appétit! Jump to part 2, here, for recipes. If you’re new to this way of eating, or just need a refresher on the basics, read on for a short overview of the Whole Foods Diet. In part 1 of this book, we will:

Review the key guidelines for the Whole Foods Diet

Introduce the Essential Eight foods to eat as often as possible

Share tips and best practices for successfully making the transition and simplifying your day-to-day cooking experience

In part 2, chefs Chad and Derek Sarno of Wicked Healthy, plus a few of our whole foodie friends and family, will present more than 120 carefully designed recipes. Following their simple, step-by-step guidelines will guarantee a delicious result every time. But because you don’t want to always be dependent on recipes, they’ll also teach you foundational techniques for preparing foods, developing flavor, and constructing your own meals—smoothies, breakfast bowls, soups, salads, sauces, dressings, entrées, and more. You’ll learn basic principles for mixing and matching your favorite ingredients and shortcuts for making quick and easy family feasts.

The last thing we expect you to do is get out a recipe book three times a day and make something entirely new. As you gain confidence, you’ll find that you can develop plans that allow you to quickly assemble meals to suit your schedule and preferences, using and reusing ingredients you have on hand or have prepared in advance. (See here for more on meal planning and examples of how we plan our weekly menus.) You’ll find a few favorite recipes that you can return to again and again, trying variations as you feel inspired. When you have a little more time, you can try a new recipe.

Our intention, in this book, is to equip you with the knowledge, skill, and confidence to create breakfasts, lunches, and dinners that will delight your senses and nourish your body, whether you follow these recipes or come up with your own. We want to make cooking so easy and enjoyable that you’ll be inspired to make it part of your everyday routine. So let’s get cooking!

Part 1

The Whole Foods Diet at Home


The Whole Foods Diet

What is a whole foods, plant-based diet? Put simply, it’s a diet that prioritizes eating whole or unprocessed plant foods; minimizes or eliminates meat, fish, dairy products, and eggs; and eliminates highly processed foods.

The Whole Foods Diet follows two simple guiding principles:

1. Eat whole foods instead of highly processed foods.

2. Eat mostly plant foods (90 to 100% of your daily calories).

Follow these two rules, and fairly quickly you may notice that you have more energy and youthful vitality. Continue eating this way, and you’ll naturally reach and be able to maintain your optimum weight. You may find that existing health complaints resolve themselves and you’re able to reduce your dependence on medications and even reverse chronic conditions. And you’ll give yourself a much better chance of living a long, healthy, disease-free life.

This dietary pattern reflects the best science available on diet and health and is modeled on the eating habits of some of the world’s longest-lived populations.1 People who eat this way consistently report losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight without portion control or feelings of deprivation. Rigorous laboratory experiments, carefully controlled clinical trials, and long-term observational studies following millions of people over several decades all confirm the wisdom of eating more whole plant foods and minimizing or eliminating highly processed foods and animal products. The research supporting the wisdom of this way of eating, even briefly summarized, is enough to fill several books, and certainly far more than we have time to cover here. Suffice it to say that whole foods, plant-based diets have been shown to prevent and reverse heart disease and type 2 diabetes; lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and body weight; significantly reduce your risk of getting multiple types of cancer; extend your life span; and much more.2 (For a summary of the key findings on whole foods, plant-based diets and health, with detailed references, we encourage you to read our companion book, The Whole Foods Diet.)

We are lucky to live in a time when there is an unprecedented wealth of information available about the relationship between diet, lifestyle, and health. However, many people feel confused and overwhelmed by the conflicting messages promoted by the media, the food industry, and the latest fad diets. Sometimes it can seem like no one agrees on what diet helps humans thrive. But don’t be fooled. Yes, there will always be controversies and contradictions, and there is still a lot that science does not yet understand about the interplay between the foods we eat and the systems of our bodies. But there is far more agreement than there is disagreement about the basic themes of a healthy diet.

Dr. David Katz, founding director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, puts it bluntly: “We are not, absolutely not, emphatically NOT clueless about the basic care and feeding of Homo sapiens. The fundamental lifestyle formula, including diet, conducive to the addition of years to our lives, and life to our years, is reliably clear and a product of science, sense, and global consensus.”3 What is that formula? In 2014, after carefully comparing the medical evidence for and against each of the major dietary trends in the West today—including Paleo, Mediterranean, low-fat, low-carb, low-glycemic, vegetarian, and vegan—Katz’s conclusion was unequivocal: “A diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention.”4

We as authors consider ourselves lifetime students of nutritional science. We have each spent decades studying the topic and continue to seek out the latest studies. But it’s our firm conviction that, while new information will continue to inform us, the information we already have is more than enough to ensure that we live long, healthy lives. We just need to act on it! And that means, above all, eating a whole foods, 90 to 100% plant-based diet.

Is This a Vegan Diet?

The authors of this book eat a 100% plant-based (or vegan) diet, because in addition to its health benefits, we believe from an ethical and environmental standpoint that taking animal lives in order to satisfy our appetites is unnecessary. However, our focus in this book is health, not ethics, and therefore we have based our dietary recommendations on our best reading of nutrition science. Our conclusion, from a health standpoint, is that the optimum diet for general health and longevity is one in which 90 to 100% of calories are derived from plants—a whole foods, 90 to 100% plant-based diet. This means that if you choose to eat meat, fish, eggs, or dairy products, you keep them to 10% or less of your total calories. And while there’s no exact certainty on what percentage is ideal, we believe that less is better.

Did you know that the longest-lived populations on earth—people living in what researcher Dan Buettner calls the Blue Zones—eat diets that are, on average, 90% plant-based? Studies show that people who eat predominantly plant foods have significantly better long-term health outcomes than those who eat a diet heavy in animal foods. And plant-based diets have been shown to not only prevent but even reverse chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Furthermore, there is growing evidence for links between high levels of animal foods and chronic disease. Red meats and processed meats in particular have been connected with greater risk of death from all causes, and high consumption of animal protein has been correlated with higher incidences of cancer and mortality. The links between processed meats and cancer are so concerning that the World Health Organization recently classified them as a Group 1 carcinogen, alongside cigarettes and asbestos.

All this adds up to a conclusive case for significantly reducing consumption of animal foods. Some doctors and nutritionists extrapolate that this means we should eliminate animal foods altogether. Perhaps they are right (particularly for those people looking to reverse chronic disease), but the science on this point is not yet definitive. Once again, we personally eat 100% plant-based, and believe it’s a very healthy choice, as well as the most compassionate one, but we try not to let our ethical convictions cloud our objectivity when it comes to what the science shows. We remain open-minded as to what future research may tell us about the benefits and risks of including limited amounts of animal products in a healthy diet.

It’s also important to understand that merely avoiding animal foods does not make a diet healthy. Plenty of people who choose a vegan or vegetarian diet (perhaps for ethical reasons) end up eating very unhealthy, highly processed foods. Whether you choose to be vegan or not, eating more whole plant foods, in all their wonderful and varied forms, is a clear path to health and longevity. And because health is not the only consideration when it comes to what we eat and do not eat, we encourage you to also consider the impact of your food choices on your fellow creatures and on the planet we all share.

Whole Foods vs. Processed Foods

A whole food means an unprocessed food—a food that is still close to the form in which it grew. It has not been broken down into its component parts and refined into a different form. None of its essential nutritious parts have been removed, and no unhealthy substances (sugar, salt, oil, or chemicals such as artificial flavors, preservatives, or colors) have been added to it. In short, it’s real food.

Consider a fresh ear of corn compared to a salty fried corn chip. Or a ripe, juicy bowl of strawberries compared to a bowl of strawberry ice cream. Or a grain of wheat compared to a doughnut. In each of these examples, the original whole food gets stripped of fiber and essential nutrients, and then combined with ingredients like oil, salt, sugar, chemical flavorings, and preservatives to create something bearing little resemblance to the original plant.

Does that mean you need to eat your food looking exactly as it did when it was picked from the ground, the vine, or the tree? No. The truth is that almost every food undergoes some form of processing, even if it’s simply the process of being harvested and having its stalks, leaves, or inedible husks removed. Processing is best understood as a spectrum. If you take oats and cut them up, you get steel-cut oats. If you press them flat, you get rolled oats. While these forms of oats are technically not “whole,” what matters is that none of their important nutrients have been removed in the process and nothing unhealthy has been added to them—no sugar, salt, oil, chemicals, or preservatives. They are so minimally processed that they fit our favorite definition of a whole food, taken from Dr. Michael Greger: “Nothing bad added, nothing good taken away.”5

By this definition, you can see why whole wheat pasta, made from ground-up whole grains, is a better choice than white pasta, made from refined flour with most of its fiber removed. You can see why peanut butter that is made from ground-up peanuts is a better choice than peanut butter with added oil, sugar, and salt. And you can see why a fresh orange is a better choice than a glass of orange juice, with much of its fiber removed and its sugars therefore concentrated. The bottom line is that real foods, eaten close to their whole and natural state, are optimally beneficial for the body.

To summarize, here’s your recipe for health and longevity: Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, plus some nuts and seeds. Cut out highly processed foods, especially refined flours, sugars, and oils. If you choose to eat animal foods, keep them to 10% or less of your calories—and the less, the better.

The Whole Foods Diet is not a short-term plan—it’s a sustainable, healthy lifestyle that we hope you’ll never look back from. If you follow the overall pattern described above, you’ll ensure that you get all the benefits. Get the big picture right, and there’s room to customize the particulars to fit your individual goals, health conditions, and personal preferences.

We hope you’ll fall in love with the delicious, life-enhancing foods you’ll find in these pages. What you’ll find, if you do, is that this food loves you right back—nourishing your body, supporting your immune system, and boosting your vitality.

Understanding Calorie Density: The Secret to Weight Loss

Because weight loss is the number one reason people change their diets, and because excess weight plays a part in so many chronic conditions, we’d like to take a moment to share a key concept that can help you reach your ideal weight and feel nourished and well-fed every day. The secret to weight loss is this: Choose foods that leave you feeling full and satisfied without consuming more calories than you need.

The last thing we want you to do is spend your life counting calories, and one of the wonderful things about a whole foods, plant-based diet is that once you get the hang of it, you won’t have to worry about that. However, understanding how calories work can be helpful as you shift your diet and develop healthy habits. Calories are a measure of the energy contained in a food, and they can come in the form of carbohydrates, protein, or fats. You need a certain number of calories to fuel your daily activity, but if you consistently consume more than you need, your body will store them as fat, causing you to gain weight. If you reduce your calorie intake to less than you need, your body will burn stored fat and you’ll lose weight. The problem, however, is that many low-calorie diets leave you feeling hungry all the time. Your body sends hormonal signals telling your brain it has not eaten enough. No matter how strong your willpower, it’s tough to override those powerful instincts for too long.

To be successful in losing weight (or maintaining a healthy weight), you need to feel satiated by the foods you eat. Satiety is the opposite of hunger, and it’s the body’s mechanism for telling you when to stop eating. When it comes to satisfying and filling you up, not all calories are created equal. For example, four chicken nuggets contain about 200 calories, but won’t make you feel full at all; eat one medium sweet potato, which also contains 200 calories, and you’ll start to feel quite satisfied. Therefore, the sweet potato is a much better choice if you want to avoid eating more calories than your body needs.

The technical term for this is calorie density. A calorie-dense food contains a lot of calories but has a fairly low bulk or weight (like the chicken nuggets, deep-fried in oil). A less calorie-dense food contains fewer calories relative to its much greater bulk or weight (like the sweet potato). The reason this matters is that your body has several ways to measure the amount of food you eat and tell you when to stop, and one of those is directly related to how much the food you consume “stretches” your stomach. When you eat calorie-dense foods, you confuse your stomach’s “stretch receptors” into thinking you’re not eating enough, even though you’re consuming more calories than you need. When you choose less calorie-dense foods, you’ll feel satisfied, because their greater bulk fills you up.

The good news is that almost all whole plant foods are naturally on the lower end of the calorie-density scale. This is because they contain large amounts of fiber and water in addition to carbohydrates, proteins, or fats, which increases the bulk of the food without adding calories. The most calorie-dense plant foods are nuts and seeds, or fatty fruits like olives or avocados.

Processed foods tend to be calorie dense because they have been stripped of fiber and water and have often had fats and sugars added; hence, the number of calories relative to weight increases dramatically. The results are high-calorie foods that take up very little space in your stomach, leaving you feeling hungry even though you’ve consumed a lot of calories. These unnaturally concentrated foods subvert your natural instincts, confusing your body’s regulation systems and tricking you into overeating. Animal foods also contain very little fiber and more calories, especially processed animal foods. When you eat whole plant foods, you can begin to trust the messages your body is giving you, and know when you’ve eaten enough instead of too much.

With these basic principles in mind, you can start to understand why so many people struggle with weight gain, and why diets that rely on portion control and calorie restriction rarely work. By choosing whole foods, mostly plants, you won’t have to obsessively monitor your portion sizes or deny your hunger. In fact, you may need to eat larger meals than you are accustomed to! Don’t make the mistake of just eating salads and a few veggies and thinking that’s the best way to lose weight. You also need to include highly satiating plant foods like starchy vegetables, whole grains, and legumes to ensure that you meet your energy needs (see here for our list of the Essential Eight foods that together will ensure that you are nourished and satisfied every day).

Why Are Oils Off-Limits?


On Sale
Oct 30, 2018
Page Count
304 pages

John Mackey

About the Author

John Mackey, co-founder and co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, has led the natural and organic grocer to a $16 billion Fortune 500 company, now owned by Amazon. He is the co-author of The Whole Foods Diet and Capitalism, a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller.

Alona Pulde, MD, is a board-certified practitioner of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and Family Medicine Physician specializing in nutrition and lifestyle medicine, integrating the best of both fields into her practice. She was featured in the popular documentary Forks Over Knives, developed the Lifestyle Change Program used for patients in the film, and co-authored the New York Times bestseller The Forks Over Knives Plan as well as Keep It Simple, Keep It Whole and The Whole Foods Diet.

Matthew Lederman, MD, is a board-certified Internal Medicine physician with an avid interest in the field of nutrition and lifestyle medicine. He was featured in the popular 2011 documentary Forks Over Knives and co-authored the New York Times bestsellers The Forks Over Knives Plan, Keep It Simple, Keep It Whole, and The Whole Foods Diet.

Learn more about this author