What is a healthy diet and why you should eat one (Part I of ?)

I have written this post a million times in my head, but this topic is huge and hugely important to me so I’ve chickened out of writing it for a couple of years.

The Highlights

Nearly three years ago, my husband and I became vegetarian. We initially made the change primarily for religious reasons, but also with an idea that it would improve our health. Since then, we’ve done much more reading on nutrition and made many more changes in our diets.

I really feel like we’ve stumbled on something that improved our quality of life by such a large degree, I want to shout it from the rooftops.
– We feel fantastic. We sleep better, have higher energy during the day, no post-meal stupors, fewer cravings for unhealthy food, we’re sick less often, and enjoy *ahem* excellent digestive health.
– It’s really freeing to know that if you eat the right things, there’s no need to count calories, go hungry, or agonize over food choices in order to maintain a healthy, attractive weight.
– Our food costs have increased by very little, and we see the extra cost as an investment in our health.
– Our diet will:

  • Nearly eliminate our risk for heart disease
  • Lower our cholesterol without medication
  • Completely eliminate our risk for obesity
  • Completely eliminate our risk for Type II Diabetes
  • Drastically reduce our risk of developing cancer
  • Protect our child and future children from developing the above diseases

That blows my mind. But, the science is there and that science is at complete odds with the heavy marketing and lobbying from the dairy and meat industries.

So many Americans are suffering from preventable and reversible diseases. Scott and I are convinced that you really are what you eat and that our bodies are designed to function much better and for much longer if given the right fuel.

It breaks my heart to see so many children growing up overweight and getting high blood pressure, clogged arteries, and type II diabetes before they even learn algebra. Millions and millions of people are on medications made necessary by poor food choices (and lack of correct scientific information and understanding). People who bend over backwards for their kids in every other aspect of raising them often set a terrible example when it comes to what they put in their own bodies.

What We Eat

Cutting to the chase, the following foods compose upwards of 90% of our diet:
– Vegetables
– Fruit
– Beans / lentils
– Whole grains
– Nuts & seeds

In picture form:

(image source: celestialhealing.net, a website I’ve never actually visited)

We still eat cheese about once a week and a decadent dessert about once a month. When I bake bread I’ll use some honey to do it. We’ll put maple syrup on our waffles sometimes. But the above list really covers nearly everything we eat every day.

This may seem incredibly limiting, but we’ve found it’s the exact opposite. I eat such a greater variety now than I ever did before.

Sample Diet From 5 Years Ago:

It should be noted I did try to eat “healthily” even then, meaning whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean meat, no fast food, few sweets, etc.

Breakfast: Special K with skim milk
Snack: strawberry yogurt
Lunch: banana, PB&J sandwich on whole wheat bread
Snack: pretzels and 2 chocolate chip cookies
Dinner: lasagna, garlic bread, apple crisp for dessert

Let’s look at the actual ingredients in that day. I’ve bolded each one the first time I encounter it except for the incomprehensible additives at the end of ingredient lists:
SPECIAL K: rice (refined grain), wheat gluten (Uck, really that much? I guess I’d call that wheat flour?), deffatted wheat germ (um…wheat flour again), salt (twice as many mg salt as there are calories, not a good sign!), high fructose corn syrup (yum, this is corn), dried whey, malt flavoring, calcium caseinate
STRAWBERRY YOGURT: milk, sugar, nonfat milk, modified corn starch (also corn, which we’ve already had), inulin (I’m not going to call this a food, though there is more of this than strawberry. Ew), strawberry puree, kosher gelatin, tricalcium phosphate
BANANA: banana
WHOLE WHEAT BREAD: whole wheat flour, sugar, oats (um, less than sugar but I guess they count), yeast, wheat gluten, salt, soybean oil, vegetable oil phytosterols, milk, grain vinegar, sodium stearoyl lactylate, calcium propionate (preservative), monoglycerides, ascorbic acid (dough conditioner), soy lecithin
PEANUT BUTTER: roasted peanuts, sugar, molasses (sugar again), fully hydrogenated vegetable oils, mono and diglycerides, salt
JAM: strawberries, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, sugar (does anyone else suspect they split sugar into three to prevent it from taking over strawberries for the top spot?)
PRETZELS: white flour, corn syrup, salt, yeast, malt extract, sodium bicarbonate, ammonium bicarbonate, and artificial flavor
CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES: white flour, sugar, chocolate, cocoa butter (this is chocolate again, but the worst part), dextrose (sugar again), soy lecithin, sugar, soybean oil, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, high fructose corn syrup, ammonium phosphate, salt, whey, natural and artificial flavors, carmel color
LASAGNA NOODLES: white flour, salt
RED PASTA SAUCE: tomato puree, diced tomatoes, onions, salt, basil, garlic, olive oil, dehydrated garlic, spice
LEAN GROUND BEEF: Beef (did you know that in 93% lean ground beef, 42% of calories still come from fat?)
GARLIC BREAD: white flour, butter (milk), yeast, granulated sugar, canola oil and/or soybean oil, nonfat dry milk, garlic, aged parmesan cheese (milk), salt, vinegar, soy flour, spices, wheat gluten, corn syrup solids, sodium alginate
APPLE CRISP: apple, white flour, oats, butter, sugar, cinnamon

I didn’t include serving sizes above, but it’s clear my calories come from the following:
Milk, white flour, sugar, corn, white rice, and oil. The “variety” consists of whole wheat flour for one meal, strawberries in yogurt and jam (hehe), 1 banana, apple in my apple crisp, tomatoes, onions and garlic in my pasta sauce. That’s it! How are you supposed to fuel a vibrant, fit life and beat cancer and clean out your arteries with that kind of food going in your body?

Sample Diet Today

Don’t laugh. We really eat this way, especially in the summer when the farmer’s markets are in full swing.

BREAKFAST: homemade museli with cut up fruit, unsweetened soymilk, and all the fixings
LUNCH: homemade burritos, grapes
SNACK: carrots and broccoli dunked in hummus and fresh tomatoes from our garden
DINNER: ratatouille over brown rice, kale salad, melon for dessert

Again, here are the ingredients with the first mention being in bold:
MUESLI: rolled red wheat, rolled white wheat, rolled oats, rolled barley, rolled rye, rolled sunflower seeds
FRUIT: peaches, nectarines, blueberries, raspberries
FIXINGS: ground flaxseed, walnuts
WHOLE WHEAT TORTILLAS: whole wheat flour, salt
REFRIED BEANS (homemade): pinto beans, bell peppers, onions, jalapeno peppers, tomatoes, garlic, cumin, oregano
GUACAMOLE: avocados, vinegar, jalapeno peppers, garlic, onion, salt.
GRAPES: grapes
VEGGIES: broccoli, carrots, tomatoes
HUMMUS: chickpeas, canola oil, sesame tahini, salt, citric acid, spices, natural flavor
RATATOUILLE: eggplant, zucchini, crookneck squash, red bell pepper, onion, tomatoes, garlic, salt
BROWN RICE: brown rice
KALE SALAD: kale, dried cranberries, pine nuts, white balsamic vinegar, rice vinegar, olive oil, honey, salt
MELON: honeydew

I think it’s obvious that the foods listed here are simpler, but offer a much greater variety. This day consisted of 6 different whole grains, 6 different fruits, 3 different beans, 2 different nuts, 3 different seeds, 11 different vegetables, and much less added oil, sugar, and salt.

I want to be clear that I didn’t try to force variety into this day, but rather that because all the processed, refined foods are off the agenda, it opens a lot more space in your budget and on your plate for a variety of colorful plant foods.

More to come

This post kicks off a series of posts on nutrition, and I’d be happy to answer any questions you have about our diet. Just leave ’em in the comments.

Some things I plan on addressing:

– What we do about dairy. Why we almost always skip it, what we use instead, and how our two year old daughter thrives without milk.

– Why we wear leather shoes. Or put another way, are we *that* kind of vegan?

– How we shop. How much we spend.

Part II: Our Journey to Better Eating


About beanland

Scott is a family practice doctor and Anne is a full-time mother and teacher to three beautiful girls and one boy.
This entry was posted in Healthy Eating, Why we do it. Bookmark the permalink.

42 Responses to What is a healthy diet and why you should eat one (Part I of ?)

  1. Hogar says:


    I applaud your efforts for healthy living. My wife and recently made a change in the right direction and even in the three weeks or so since we started, we already feel better.

    Quick question: can you post your Muesli recipe? It sounds tasty. Thanks


  2. Spencer says:

    “Nearly three years ago, my husband and I became vegetarian. We initially made the change primarily for religious reasons.”

    Sounds interesting, what religion are you?

    I am interested to hear what your children will plan on doing when they are on a mission in a third world country being fed a very non-vegetarian meal? Would you have them eat or refuse?


  3. beanland says:

    @ Hogar:

    I’m happy to share, but I don’t use a recipe.

    First, I cut up whatever fresh fruit we have on hand, usually berries, stone fruit, bananas, and/or apples. If we’re out of fresh fruit, I’ll throw in date crumbles (from Bob’s Red Mill).

    Then I pour in enough unsweetened soymilk to cover it.

    I let that soak while I chop up whatever nuts I’m in the mood for (walnuts, pecans, and/or almond slivers), and grind up some flaxseed in our little coffee mill (used only for flax, incidentally) and maybe toss in some raw, unsalted sunflower seeds as well. I tend to go easy on the nuts and seeds for my husband and myself, and heavy on them for my 2 year old daughter.

    After I add the nuts, I stir in some 6 grain medley from Honeyville Grains: http://store.honeyvillegrain.com/6grainrolledcereal50lb.aspx . (You could do just rolled oats, I’m sure.)

    I let everything soak until we’re ready to eat, ideally about a half hour. My husband doesn’t like his grains soaked that long, so I’ll just soak his fruit and nuts and add the grains right before he’s ready to eat.

    It sounds complicated now that I write it out, but it’s completely flexible and takes me 5-10 minutes to make for everyone. We eat it at least every other morning, especially in the summer.


  4. beanland says:

    @Spencer: Hah! I thought that might get some questions from other members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. 🙂

    We do believe the Word of Wisdom commands us to eat meat sparingly for optimal health when possible and we felt that we weren’t doing that. Where we live, we have access to plenty of vegetables and fruits and grains year round.

    http://scriptures.lds.org/en/dc/89 (particularly verses 12, 13, and 15)

    Hopefully you know us well enough to know we’re still gracious when other people offer us food we wouldn’t normally eat. We’ve had missionaries over for dinner who warily eye the plate of veggies we serve them, but all but one have dug in and thanked us for the meal.

    Though I’m honestly a bit turned off by meat now, as I have always been by cooked mustard greens and pickles, I don’t think eating it once in a while is the end of the world. I don’t think it’s healthy, but neither is ice cream and you’ll still catch me eating some cookies and cream every once in a while. 🙂


  5. Liz says:

    I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of months now (for your research purposes, I came across it after searching for a healthy crunchy snack, and got the date nut pop-ems 🙂

    I’ve been a serious meat and dairy and egg eater all my life, and have always said that if I ever turn vegetarian, I will almost certainly starve -not that fond of veggies. Mind you, I don’t mind some of the raw veggies, and when you start going through a list, you find that you can eat more than you think.

    After reading your blog for a while, I read all the books that your dad (i think) had on his list, and I have now bought some (China Study, Eat to live, and Prevent and Reverse heart disease) for my dad and for my in-laws. They have not read it yet, are still on the way from Amazon, but they are all serious meat and dairy and egg eaters, so I will see how it goes. I think that you have to read the books yourself to really get all the information needed to change your own mind about what you are eating.

    Anyway, I did not mean to write such a long thing, but what I want to say from the pre-amble:
    I would never have thought that the things that I was eating was toxic. I would never in my wildest dreams have imagined that I will turn vegan/vegetarian (don’t really know which one), but from the weight of evidence, there is just no way that I can continue eating the way I am. Also, I have a young daughter (22 months), and I cannot feed her things I know are toxic if I know I can give her food that will keep her healthy and almost certainly protected from serious illnesses.

    Another thing that I wish to mention, on your 100th post list you mentioned your struggle with keeping your religious comments to a minimum. I wish to sincerely thank you for that. I am somewhat of a non-religious person (though a great believer in karma), and if your blog had a more religious slant I would not have continued reading, and would not have come to this great knowledge.

    I actually do have a question:
    In one of the books I read that the calories are too few for young children that are still growing. Do you have specific recipes that you follow for MacKenzie? I am not the world’s most imaginative cook, so I don’t really know where to start adding extra things for my daughter.


    • beanland says:

      Hi Liz,

      Thanks for commenting. I’ll bet you read that in Eat to Live. 🙂 Dr. Fuhrman also wrote a book specifically geared towards diet for children called Disease-Proof Your Child. It’s definitely worth reading, but one thing I took away was to be sure young kids get enough fats (which are high in calories).

      To that end, I sometimes feed my daughter plain avocado as a finger food, I’m liberal with the guacamole when I make latin food, she gets nuts and seeds in her breakfast, and if the day is looking too low-calorie for her, I’ll give her nuts and seeds for a snack or slather nut butter on a slice of bread.

      Also, I limit myself a bit when it comes to my serving size when I eat whole wheat bread, muesli, brown rice, etc. but my daughter always eats as much as she’d like of those higher-calorie healthy foods.

      Clearly, most American kids are getting too few calories, not too many, but I do keep an eye on my girl to make sure she’s growing and seems satiated with each meal.

      So in general, she eats what we eat, but I do try and make sure she gets enough fat and calorie-dense foods each day.


  6. lisa (lost pezhead) says:

    i have to say i always love when i see ratatouille on your blog 🙂

    thanks for the post, it makes me want to start doing better. i seem to go in waves. you’ll have to plan a healthy meeting soon 🙂


  7. manwaringfam says:

    I have to say that you have me about ready to take the jump. Again, you have always inspired me and we love fruits and veggies at our house. we eat tons, but i definitely eat ALL the stuff you wrote about in your 5 years ago diet. I want to competely change, but I just don’t know how to do it! I am scared of not knowing what and how to eat, and also the convenience of processed foods. Please keep the posts up, and I think I will go and buy the China Study book just to get some more knowledge. Thanks for making me want to be healthier Anne!


    • beanland says:

      Thanks for your comment. I should probably a quick post on the books I’ve found most helpful, but definitely Eat for Health by Dr. Fuhrman comes to mind.

      The China Study is much more focused on the research and studies that support a plant-based diet, whereas Eat for Health is very helpful in actually changing the way you eat.


  8. Angie says:

    Thanks Anne! I love it when you post things about the way you eat!


  9. Maya says:

    I have 2 questions related to healthy eating but somewhat unrelated to this post 🙂

    1) When did you introduce spices (cinnamon, garlic, basil, etc.) into Mackenzie’s diet?

    2) Have you ever made any gluten-free bread and if so, do you have a favorite recipe to share? [We will probably be going gluten-free soon.]


    • beanland says:

      Hey Maya!


      1) Immediately. She started eating the foods we did right after she got the hang of plain sweet potato, peas, and oatmeal, pretty much. I think it took two weeks? We held off on stuff like curry for a few months after that, but we definitely gave her our food blended up nearly from the get-go.

      She did get a rash on her hands and mouth when she fed herself stuff with a lot of cinnamon in it, so we dialed that down until she didn’t get a rash anymore. Other than that, I think the spices have really helped her enjoy food and not be too picky. Not to mention it’s easy on us to just feed her from our plates.

      2) Nope. We don’t have any problems with gluten so I’ve never experimented with gluten-free anything. Sorry! Why are you going gluten-free, incidentally?


  10. Maya says:

    Thanks! We’ve done rice cereal, peas, green beans, avocado, sweet potato, carrots, and peaches so far. Miles loves everything but the avocado. I wanted to start experimenting with spice as soon as possible because Mark and I were both reeeeaaally picky kids and I want to keep Miles from going down that path.

    Mark tested + for antibodies related to Celiac’s disease 2 weeks ago. We’ll find out after Tuesday’s test if he has it, but I’ll be very surprised if he doesn’t. So, I’ve been researching gluten-free recipes in order to be prepared.


    • beanland says:

      Ack, sorry to hear that. I hope the test is negative, but at the same time it probably would be nice to have some closure, huh?

      Best of luck. I will keep an eye out for GF recipes for you and have Scott do the same.


  11. Kimberlie says:


    Thanks for another very imformative post! I would say that you are fortunate to have a husband that was willing to make the change and your daughter is so young that she wouldn’t know the difference. When I serve meals without meat, I get “Where’s the meat?”. However, I have started making small changes that they don’t know I have made. 🙂 Less meat in recipes that call for it, substitute beans for 1/2 the meat in others. Increasing veggie content. We are definately limiting processed foods and foods that have ingredients we can’t pronounce. Also, we have been eating your whole wheat bread. I made some for the neighbors and their 8 year old told me that it was “better than bread from the store!”
    Your website is really inspirational and I always love the pictures. Know that you are making a difference in peoples lives. 🙂


    • beanland says:

      Wow, thank you for commenting! Thanks for pointing out that it’s much much easier to change your diet when your whole family is on board. There’s no doubt it’s harder to change in some situations than in others.

      I imagine healthy eating is much like other tough choices you make for your home when you’re raising kids. If you decide to cut back on tv time, the kids’ll grumble and moan because they’re used to something different and their friends have different rules. I know I paint a happy picture because my daughter has always loved healthy food, but I know it can be hard to impose change on kids, even if it’s for the better.

      As far as the spouse goes, my Dear Abby answer is to get on the same page if at all possible. Ask him to give it an honest try for you and for your kids, for a set amount of time. Talk to him about why you want to change and how you want your kids to have good examples of health to look to. Do your research and present the evidence in a succinct, convincing way. Then cook healthy food so delicious he can’t refuse. 😉

      Good luck! I think it’s awesome you’ve made the changes you have.


  12. brandie says:

    I really like your blog, it reminds me of a blog I used to read and love called Lentils and Rice, however the author closed the blog to invited guests only (I think she got alot of mean remarks). I am currently in the grip of a mean carb-craving-frenzy and looking to get off of this vicious bloodsugar rollercoaster ride( I had a baby 2 months ago and I’m still having mean cravings!). I look forward to gaining inspiration and recipe ideas from you. I was raised LDS and though I’m no longer a member, it’s refreshing to actually find an active member following the WOW completely- every mormon I’ve ever known will abhor tobacco, alcohol, and caffiene, yet thinks nothing of mawing down mass amounts of meat, though it is supposed to be limited to times of famine or sickness(is that right?)! Kudos to you. I appreciate this service you’re providing for everybody who stumbles upon this site as I did. And now I will know what to do with all of that cannery wheat my mom keeps giving to me 🙂


  13. Bethany says:

    My in-laws Steve and Jaylene sent me your blog, and I was so happy to read it. I have read Disease-Proof Your Child and enjoyed it, but I’m having a hard time with a couple of things. We live in the desert and have no local fresh produce, so it gets pretty expensive to buy fruits other than apples and bananas — that gets boring! My husband is a good sport about limiting meat, but he thinks he might die without cheese, and he won’t even taste soymilk. My kids are great with my homemade whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, etc, and my four year old loves veggies and fruit. My baby is a different story. He just turned one and he only has four teeth. He doesn’t care for his food ground up and would rather pick up chunks himself, but he chews on them for a minute and then spits them out. My last question is about me. I recently got braces on, and am not able to chew at all because my bite has moved and my teeth don’t come together. I have been cutting my food really small and swallowing whole, but I’m DYING for a salad! I can tell my body needs greens in a bad way, but I can’t imagine blender salad…. any other ideas???


    • beanland says:

      Hey Bethany! Sorry, you started reading my blog just when I stopped writing for a while, but I was gratified to read your comments.

      As we look at moving somewhere else in the next year, I thought about access to fresh produce and how spoiled I’ve been living in CA and now OH. You’d definitely have to do more canned and frozen stuff if you lived in the desert, but I’m continually in awe of how accessible that stuff is year-round now. We really live at the best time to eat healthy foods, in some ways.

      I’m no expert at all, but here are my thoughts about the issues you raised: The cheese thing is a tough one, but you may find as you change which recipes you prepare that cheese plays less of a role. We still love cheese, but eat much less than we did before. You can skip out on soymilk and not miss out on anything. I think the key is to realize we don’t need to drink milk as adults. It’s ingrained in our culture but isn’t a healthy practice or necessary nutritionally at all.

      Picky 1 year old? Sounds like texture is the big problem, but I think continued exposure is the only way to get him past this stage. If he’s hungry, he’ll eat. No need to resort to less healthy options! Maybe try things that don’t need to be ground up and have the whole family eating the same thing, so he sees your example (lentils, bread dunked in soup, spinach & fruit smoothies). My girl was very observant and would often prefer things straight from our plates over something I made up separately for her to be smoother or less spicy.

      I’m sure you’ve figured out the braces thing by now, because I’m so late to respond but I absolutely would toss spinach into any fruit smoothie. Dr. Fuhrman’s books have lots of recipes for veggie smoothies and most are pretty good! The biggest surprise for me was doing banana, unsweetened cocoa powder, unsweetened soymilk, and a load of fresh spinach. It’s bright green but you can’t taste the spinach at all. I toss fresh baby spinach in a few minutes before my veggie soups are done, and it cooks up so that you don’t have to chew it. It slides down with the broth and you can hardly notice it. I know because I used to hate cooked greens! 🙂


  14. Laura says:


    You don’t know me, but I used to live in Columbus and I know many of your friends so I often link to your blog from there’s. Just two days ago I confessed to my husband that I wanted to eat healthier, but had no clue how to start. He said just eat food that come from the ground. After reading this I feel more of a need to eat healthier, but still don’t have a clue where to start. When I went to the grocery store yesterday (before reading this) I spent forever looking for healthy foods. I mostly bought fruits and vegetables because every time I picked up a box of something I thought would be healthy it had tons of sugar listed on the back. I was initially thinking that my goal to eat healthy would be to count calories and try not to eat so much sugar (I was thinking a diabetic diet would help me.) I have to say after trying I was completely put off and came home not knowing how to be healthy. I look forward to reading the rest of this three part series to see if this is something I could implement in my life. What would you do if you had two very picky children who I know will have a hard time eating “strange” (to them) foods and a husband who hates beans? I have always thought meat was gross, but ate it because I don’t know any other way to eat. I am getting excited and nervous to maybe start on a new adventure of eating this way. Thanks for taking the time to give your wisdom. Now on to the other two parts of this information.


    • beanland says:

      Hi Laura,

      I’ve read your blog before too, so I know who you are. 🙂

      Thanks for dropping by. I’m glad you’ve decided to make a change towards healthier eating and I hope it’s been going well for you. I think you did exactly the right thing at the grocery store: buy mostly fruits and veggies and before you buy anything else, look at the ingredients list! I think the key with picky kids is just to lead by example. Find healthy sides they like and serve new healthy meals with a healthy side so they will feel comfortable and have an alternative to the main meal if they want. In my experience, lots of kids who won’t eat what you serve for dinner are actually filling up on snacks between meals. Sometimes it takes tough love to say “you’re hungry because you didn’t eat what we had for lunch. You can have an apple for a snack, but you’ll have to wait for dinner if you’re still hungry.” Hungry kids tend to be less picky. Hehe.

      Your husband may learn to like beans. When they aren’t just a meat substitute, husbands tend to warm up to them a bit better. So maybe avoid meals that typically have meat in them (like don’t do bean tacos instead of beef tacos, but instead start with black bean soup!)

      Good luck and please ask questions and share advice when you can. 🙂


  15. ART says:

    Anne I really like your blog….I just wish I could find more ofa variety of veggies that were not processed (canned) in this part of the world, Ks seems like a 3rd world state at times…..

    For those that wonder about meat’s healthiness….you all need to read the:
    Plain Truth from the Cattle Rancher Who Won’t Eat Meat

    and for more fun read the law suit brought against Harold Lyman (the MAD COWBOY) and OPRAH by the BEEF GROWERS ASSOC HERE:


    i still eat meat but not store bought beef….I hunt and eat what I harvest….I can’t say it is without any of the steriods and other chemicals in store bought meat but I know it is a lot lower…..I have really started limiting myself to fish and wild bird meat with a little venison…..beef is almost totally non existent for me and I do not miss it…..I don’t think……I now find that if I am forced to eat fast food I get sick to my stomach and will a lot of times up chuck what I eat a few minutes later……….

    I just thought some might find the Mad Cowboy book and articles interesting………


  16. Mary Porter says:

    Hi Anne and Scott!! It’s been way too long. I hope you’re both doing well, and Scott I hope you’re still singing 🙂

    Just wanted to say we’re trying to jump in this direction with our eating as well. I haven’t quite taken the whole plunge, but I’m reading The China Study, and we make our own granola (similar to your muesli) and bread, and try to eat unprocessed foods and little meat. We love cheese and still eat milk, and I am still a sweet lover, but overall, we’re getting there. Thanks for the encouragement.

    I hope all is well with you. I hope you don’t mind, but I’ll pass along your blog to my good friend Jen who is a Vegan full fledged. I think she would love to know about you guys.

    Much love,
    Mary Stewart Porter


    • beanland says:

      Good to hear from you Mary! Scott is singing with a great barbershop chorus and in church. Don’t worry, I would never let him stop singing. 🙂

      We’re glad you’re doing well and that you’re making healthy changes in your diet. Changing has been super rewarding for us so we love to hear of people doing the same.


      p.s. Invite us to your blog!


  17. noelle says:

    have used lots of your philosophy and info in the transformation i’m trying to make with my family’s diet. wondered what you had heard about this….100% white whole wheat flour. there was no other option for whole wheat flour at trader joes except this and i got it. is there one your prefer of the whole wheat flours?

    thanks for all the info you share.


    • beanland says:

      Hi Noelle,

      My understanding is that “white” wheat is just a different variety of wheat from “red” wheat. It’s more mild in flavor and has a somewhat lower protein content, but it can be ground up whole and used just the same as red wheat. Many people prefer it for baking because it does taste less wheaty. 🙂

      I actually buy both varieties of wheat and usually mix the flours to achieve something somewhere in the middle.

      I hope that helps!


      • noelle says:

        sorry to keep bothering you about this….and thanks for your response. if you were to do your monthly dessert, would you make a classic choc chip cookie recipe with this white whole wheat flour the same as if using white flour? thanks in advance for your time.


  18. Sanjay says:

    When I was an international student in a university in Texas, my friends and well-wishers would everyday remind me that I wasn’t getting the required vitamins, protein, and other essential nutrients because I was a vegetarian. My diet consisted of mostly fruits, vegetables, breads, legumes (beans etc.), milk and cheese. Many of my friends started eating eggs, meat etc. either due to peer pressure, to conform, or from fear of not getting the required nutrition. I stuck to my guns and my meal plan for 6 years! Ultimately, the cafeteria manager gave in after the 3rd year (of trying to get me to eat the burgers and Texas bbq or chicken fried steak etc) and brought in some curry powder and started making curried vegetables for me which I merrily ate with whole wheat bread.

    A campus nutritionist visited the residence halls every year to show new residents how to eat healthy away from home. My friends forced me to get my diet plan checked by her to make sure I was eating healthy. I narrated my meals to her – fruits, veggies, beans, cottage cheese, whole wheat / grain breads, milk and milk products. She said I was probably eating the most healthiest food in the residence halls and that I should not change one thing about my meals. She wished she could get others to eat like me. Some of my friends noted her comments and my persistence to remain a vegetarian, and I am proud to say went back to being vegetarian or nearly vegetarian.

    So, these commercial enterprises and vested interests spread lots of falsehoods about what is good food.

    I have liked reading your articles and will continue to read and learn from experiences posted on this site.

    I love cooking and was looking for a whole wheat bread recipe when I stumbled on your website. I have been making whole wheat bread for the last few weeks but have not been very successful – the breads are dense and flat – though the taste is quite good. I think I need to add gluten, which I have to search where I can find in Mumbai, India, where I live currently.

    Thanks for spreading the good word and keep it up.


    • beanland says:


      Thanks for your comment and encouragement. Good for you for sticking to your healthier diet. I’m continually amazed by comments I get from people who are overweight with high cholesterol that my diet is dangerous because I don’t get enough protein.

      A few more reasons to consider why your bread might be dense and flat: Not long enough rising time, and too much flour. Whole wheat dough will be stickier than white flour dough. In my experience, if you add enough flour to make it perfectly smooth, you’ve added too much! Best of luck in your quest for better bread. It can be a frustrating process, but at least the results have been tasty so far. 🙂


    • noelle says:

      it’s me again…sorry. is there a way to avoid adding gluten to the bread recipe? i’m trying to avoid it as i understand it is not good for autoimmune diseases (which i have).


  19. beanland says:

    Hey Noelle,

    Of course whole wheat flour has quite a bit of gluten in it already, so even if you eliminate the added gluten, the bread still won’t be gluten-free. If you’re just looking to reduce gluten for whatever reason, I would recommend leaving out the additional gluten and maybe subbing rolled oats for 1 cup of the whole wheat flour. I’ve done that successfully I believe using 3 c. whole wheat flour and about 1 1/4 c. rolled oats, keeping the amount of water the same. With those changes, the bread won’t be as light and fluffy but it will still be tasty.

    As far as white whole wheat flour goes, you could use it in cookies I’m sure but in our house we make cookies so infrequently that we just make them straight up and unhealthy with no substitutions. Our theory is that we’re going to indulge, we want the flavor to be superb! But that’s just us. 🙂


  20. Carrol says:

    Seth and I went on a 28 day cleanse just for our health and a good detox the month of January. We had no education on vegan or a vegetarian diet what so ever. Honestly, the thought of eating a vegetarian diet never even crossed my mind, in my entire life! I had heard of the diet, but never thought twice about it. My sister in law found the detox online, and so we all went in together and paid for the recipes and info and jumped in with both feet. Throughout the detox, I realized that it was a vegan/vegetarian detox. We LOVED it. We have totally switched over to eating more fruits and veggies and less, WAY less meat. I’ve read so much about it online. I would love to hear more about your daily recipes.


  21. Erin says:

    Happened across your blog when I was searching for a good whole wheat bread recipe for my bread machine. Our family has much the same eating philosophy. What we’re currently struggling with is whether it’s worth the extra cost to buy organic. How have you handled that? We’ve taken our cues from the Dirty Dozen List if you’re familiar with it, but often end up buying “regular” produce because of the cost. Our small budget just can’t handle it! Any thoughts?


    • beanland says:

      Hi Erin,

      That’s a great question. If price isn’t a factor, I look at the quality of the produce and where it was grown (the closer to home the better) and choose organic when possible. But price IS a factor for us as well and most of what we buy during a given week is conventionally grown.

      However, nearly every time I go to the grocery store, I find at least one organic item that’s priced the same or lower than its conventional counterpart. Green onions and cilantro are both in this boat and the bunches are bigger, greener, and last longer when they’re organic. Romaine lettuce is usually the same price $1.99/lb and the organic has a much better flavor. Organic carrots go on sale regularly so if I plan a bit and buy them on sale, it’s the same price as conventional carrots normally. At the farmer’s market, the pesticide free and organic vendors are usually comparable in price so I favor them when I can.

      I believe that in terms of health, the biggest impact comes from switching to beans/veggies/fruit/whole grains and minimizing meat/dairy/refined stuff. After that, eating more organic is icing on the cake. Trading in pizza hut for spinach is an enormous improvement… and if your budget can’t handle buying organic spinach, I wouldn’t sweat it.

      We try to cook our own beans and make our own breads/buns/cereal to trim our grocery budget, and then we splurge on lots of healthy fruits, nuts, and veggies.

      Hope that helps! I’d love to hear more about how you feed your family healthy on a budget. 🙂


  22. Anne Brown says:

    Hi Anne,
    My name is Anne Brown and I’m Jenny Allen’s sister. I am a big health guru as well and she referred me to your blog. I am SO excited about using it as a reference in my eternal quest for a healthier lifestyle. Thank you for sharing all that you have! I have also experienced it as being scary at times – when others don’t agree, or you stick out like a sore thumb – but what an inspiration you are when you do share!!!
    I am pregnant with my first child – a girl – so finding your blog came at the perfect time!
    I am excited to read more!


    • beanland says:

      Hey Anne,

      Good to “meet” ya! 🙂 Jenny is fabulous and I’m flattered she passed my blog along to you. I’m sorry you found it right when I stopped posting but I do hope to put more recipes and nutrition-oriented content up soon.

      Congratulations on your pregnancy!



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