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Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from the book The Healthiest People on Earth by John Howard Weeks (BenBella Books, 2018). It is published with permission.
The best way to embrace and celebrate a plant-based whole foods diet is to put good food on the table. So, let’s do that. I call these recipes “omnipotent” because, in most cases, they each offer a complete nutrition profile, with ingredients that represent the entire range of essential food groups: proteins, healthy carbohydrates, fruits, and vegetables. Each one of these four components, by itself, is a potent source of nutritional goodness. Together, in one dish, they are omnipotent!
Many of these recipes come from my own family, written by hand on bits of paper that in some cases are more than a hundred years old. There are recipes from my mother, my grandmother, and even my great-great-grandmother, Ellen G. White. Learn how to make her favorite breakfast dish, her favorite noodle dish, and her favorite dessert. These exclusive family recipes appear here in print for the first time anywhere.
Ellen G. White’s Favorite Breakfast: Cooked Wheat Berries with Fruit and Nuts
My great-great-grandmother loved hot whole-grain cereal served in a bowl with fresh cream. Wheat, oats, rice, millet, cornmeal—all varieties of grain were to her liking. She also insisted on several kinds of fresh fruit with the morning meal. And nuts. She was crazy about nuts. She bought almonds by the hundred-pound bag!
Here’s her original recipe for a breakfast dish for four to six people that combines wheat berries, fresh fruits, and almonds. Wheat berries are entire wheat kernels with the bran, germ, and endosperm intact. They are readily available at health food stores and online.
2 cups whole wheat berries
6 cups water
2 bananas, peeled and sliced
1 cup dates, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup slivered almonds
Soy or almond milk (optional)
1. Combine wheat berries and water in a pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, for 50–60 minutes, until tender.
2. Drain and divide the cooked wheat berries among 4–6 serving bowls. Top each with banana slices, dates, raisins, and almonds.
3. Add a splash of soy milk, if desired. Food groups: protein (almonds), carbohydrate (wheat berries), fruit (bananas, dates, raisins), vegetable (soy milk)
Tip: Ellen G. White liked to pour fresh dairy cream over her cereal, but it’s easy to turn this dish vegan by substituting soy or almond milk.
Ellen G. White’s Favorite Noodle Dish: Baked Macaroni and Corn Casserole
Ellen G. White ate only two main meals a day—breakfast and an afternoon meal that was called dinner. One of her “dinner” favorites was a baked macaroni and corn dish that was vegetarian, but definitely not vegan. It was loaded with dairy milk, butter, and cheese. Turning it vegan is an easy trick, though. You’ll see.
1/2 cup dairy-free butter spread
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
Pinch of salt
6 cups cooked macaroni noodles
1 (15-ounce) can whole-kernel corn, mostly drained but reserving a little of the juice
1 (15-ounce) can creamed corn
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, sliced or chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.
2. In a saucepan, melt the dairy-free butter spread over low heat. Add the almond milk and whisk for about 2 minutes until the mixture reaches a light simmer.
3. Add the nutritional yeast, garlic powder, turmeric, and salt and whisk until thickened. Don’t allow to boil (reduce the heat, if necessary). When the sauce has thickened, remove from the heat.
4. In a mixing bowl, combine the cooked noodles, the whole-kernel corn with a little of its juice, the creamed corn, and the sauce. Mix well.
5. Pour the noodle and corn mixture into the prepared baking dish and bake uncovered for 30–40 minutes until lightly browned.
6. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the fresh basil, and serve hot.
Food groups: protein (almond milk, nutritional yeast), carbohydrate (pasta), vegetable (corn, basil)
Ellen G. White’s Favorite Dessert: Bread Pudding with Raisins
My great-great-grandmother was very fond of bread pudding with raisins. It’s an old-fashioned classic and the traditional recipe calls for lots of dairy, including milk and butter, and eggs, but it’s quite easy to make a dairy-free version that tastes every bit as good.
2 cups soy milk
1/4 cup dairy-free butter spread
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 slices soft bread, cut into cubes
1/2 cup raisins
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a 2-quart saucepan, heat the soy milk and dairy-free butter spread over medium heat until the butter spread is melted.
3. In a large bowl, combine the applesauce, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder. Add the bread cubes and raisins, and stir to mix. Add the soy milk mixture and stir to combine.
4. Pour into an ungreased 9-inch round baking pan.
5. Bake uncovered for 40–45 minutes, or until a knife inserted 1 inch from the edge comes out clean. Serve warm.
Food groups: protein (soy milk), carbohydrate (bread), fruit (applesauce, raisins)
John Howard Weeks is a career journalist and longtime columnist for Southern California’s largest newspaper group. He is author, co-author, or editor of six previous books (Mojave Desert, Inland Empire, San Bernardino Bicentennial, Choice Words, Dream Weavers, and Window Beyond the World). He has degrees in English literature from the University of California at Riverside and Birmingham University in England. Except for one year in Europe, he has lived for more than 50 years in or near Loma Linda, California, the health-minded community established in 1905 by his great-great-grandmother, Ellen G. White, founder and prophet of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Photo of John Howard Weeks by Mari Sarabia (Earhart Photography), courtesy of BenBella Books. Title photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash.
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