I’ve seen a lot of food pyramids in my time, the ones we grew up with at school that our governments made, the ones that other chefs have made and to be pretty fricken honest none of them ever really felt true to me.
That traditional food pyramid that they taught us in schools is a bit of a joke, and science is actually proving that is not great for our health. But my intention here is to not focus on ‘bagging’ that pyramid out, but rather to make a new pyramid, that felt true to me. A good pyramid that is more holistic and goes beyond just the food, but where the food is coming from how we get in and how it’s been nourished.
Because to me a plant based lifestyle is more than just eating fruits and vegetables, it’s really about going from the source, the farm and thinking of all the beautiful people along the way that gets that food to my table.
I want to walk you through my plant based pyramid now…
The New Food Pyramid Base: Sunshine, Water & Soil
Wellness and food to me is all about connection. Our food comes from the earth, it just doesn’t magically pop up in the supermarket. But I know a lot of people are growing up these days having never seen a farm, or a carrot in the ground.
So the idea of having sunshine, water and soil at the bottom of the pyramid is to show ‘hey! This is where food comes from!”. And whatever is in that water or soil, we end up eating. So it makes a hell of a lot of sense to actually know where our food is coming from.
So yes I’m all for bio-organic and organic farming, buying food from small local producers that you know don’t use pesticides and herbicide sprays.
There is also a special connection with food, it’s like a bridge to the earth, sun and water energies for us. And so many people are feeling depressed and sad because of all kinds of lack of connection. With every bite of wholefood you should feel the earth energies and be in gratitude that “hey we get to eat!!”.
In line with what I was saying above, eating in season is another way of connecting with the earth and it’s natural energy cycles.
It’s always best to eat locally grown food that is as ripe as possible.
When we buy things out of season often it’s imported food that has been picked green and flown in. So it’s never going to be as tasty, nutrient rich and it’s certainly not great for our planet in terms of carbon footprint either.
So eat with the seasons and eat local, it’ll save you a bucket load of money too. Total win win situation.
You might be a bit confused by this one at first, but it refers to us moving to get the food. I mean this in all forms, from getting our hands dirty in our own gardens, to heading to farmers markets and even just the effort of making our own food.
It makes me sad that we can sit and home and order a fast food takeaway. No effort, no movement, zero connection.
So make an effort to grow a few things at home, get your hands dirty, get out to your local farmer’s market and shake the hand that feeds you. This kind of movement creates a connection that nourishes your soul.
Yes! This is where all the good stuff is in your veg and leafy greens. When I say amp up the plant this is generally what I’m talking about. A lot of people say they find it hard to incorporate greens, well once you start cooking with me that’s going to change pretty quickly!
I’ve helped hardcore protein junkies turn scrambled eggs in an epic salad breakfast situation with mountains of greens and herbs incorporates into an omelette with a side salad that left them saying “wow i’ve never felt so satisfied and so energised for a workout!”.
Pizzas, pastas and curries all full of vegetables and super delicous.
I’ve also helped a lot of people fall in love with salads. Want to know my trick? It’s ALL about the dressings people! Seriously, once someone learns how to make dressings with me, salad becomes their favourite meal.
Oh sweet fruits, how I love thee. In breakfast chia puddings, raw jams, in epic smoothies, covered in warm vanilla custard. I could go on…
When nature provides us with such succulent sweetness naturally who needs refined cane sugar. A lot of people have been fooled by the wellness industry that all sugar is bad. Well that just isn’t true. There is a right kind of sugar to eat and a kind that does not serve you so well.
Fruits in their wholefood state contain sugar but also an amazing bunch of minerals and nutrient-isms to help process that sugar in the body, leaving you feel energised and nourished.
Processed sugars however contain no minerals or nutrition. Refined sugar gives you an unnatural sugar spike and then robs the body in minerals and nutrients to help metabolise it. Big difference.
As someone who loves making healthy raw desserts fruits bring a lot of joy into my life.
Mmmm what can i say about nuts and seeds. Healthy fats is a good place to begin! What I was saying above about sugars applies to fats too. The fats that nuts contain lubricate our system, keep everything smooth and supple and boost our metabolism.
But I really love nuts and seeds because of the textures you can create with them. Thick creamy rich, dairy free sauces made with soaked cashews are the best. Or a sunflower seed mylk thickshake!
I do recommend you activate your nuts first to make them more digestible.
I love legumes. Most of the longest living cultures incorporated legumes in their diet, which speaks volumes to me.
They are a staple in my kitchen because they are just so versatile. They make great burgers, pates, stews, curries, good for breakfasts, you have them savoury, or you can make them sweet, the list goes on.
And they’re fricken cheap! Around $3/kg for dried black kidney beans. Soaking one cup dried beans yields two cups cooked, enough to make a Mexican Feast out of.
So yeah, always buy dried beans, soak them and put them in the pressure cooker, super simple, so cheap, and way better than being stored in a can. Plus the whole process of being able to soak and bless them before you cook I think is really magical.
I love whole grains. Everything from homemade essene bread to rices in my randang curry. Recently wholegrains have a got a bad rap because of gluten. But I chose to take that with a grain of salt.
Buy grains as close to nature as you can (ie. the less domesticated – like spelt or kamut). And make sure you wash them well incase they were sprayed with anything (even if you buy organic). Especially wash quinoa, if you just cook it straight away it can contain a residue that can cause digestive issues.
And it’s always best to soak rice overnight before cooking to make it as digestible as possible.
I feel fine after eating grains. So do what works for you. Trial and error.
Yes I’m giving the often forgotten sea vegetable their own category. Why? Well these little green ‘isms’ from the sea are so mineral rich that add so much nutrition to any meal.
You may just be thinking of nori rolls for sushi right?
But there’s a whole bunch of different kinds of seaweeds. Wakame is great for cooking your legumes with to absorb any gas released from the beans.
Seaweeds are great in salads too. Start experimenting and seeing what which ones work for you.
Chocolate is a plant and chocolate is ok! That is all.
But I’m talking about REAL chocolate here guys, not the candy bar in the supermarket that’s just milk solids and sugar. No way!
Cocao or ‘real chocolate’ contains so many minerals and nutrients isms. Not to mention that it does give a feeling of LOVE! Just make sure you enjoy it in moderation as the pyramid suggests and you’ll be serving your organs whilst enjoying a treat too.
So I’ve mixed things up a little bit here, but enjoy exploring and taking it all in. The idea is that you can refer to this when you’re making meals at home. Think of this as a visual map, like a compass or guide to follow about what foods groups you include and in what proportion.
So that’s my take on a Food Pyramid For Wholefood
Chef Cynthia Louise
Chef Cynthia Louise is an Internationally acclaimed MasterChef, speaker, author, restaurant consultant, teacher and television presenter in wholefood, dairy-free cooking. She also has the worlds first online cooking classes focused on dairy-free plant-based whole foods with recipes that people are raving about and changing people's health, one delicious bite at a time. Chef Cynthia loves nothing more than educating people about the simplicity and vitality of a plant-based, whole foods lifestyle. Each dish is like art on a plate and her flavour combinations nourish the soul and get everyone talking.