This is day #8 on my 30-day experiment of The One Ingredient Diet and I wanted to give you an update on my progress and share some of my favorite recipes that I have been experimenting with over the past week. First, a quick recap of how this experiment is going:
Processed Food Withdrawals
Now on day #8, I feel pretty amazing on this diet. I experienced some withdrawal symptoms for the first 4-5 days, not as severe as giving up coffee, but still disruptive. I was more tired than normal, moody, and seriously craving a piece of bread or a brownie.
Even more severe than the physical withdrawals have been the mental/emotional habits. I never considered myself to be much of a comfort eater, but snap peas just don’t satisfy your cravings. After a meal, I would often have a piece of dark chocolate or a small ‘healthy’ dessert. No more of that.
It has been unnerving to finish eating a huge meal with plenty of healthy calories only to feel like something is missing. It’s not hunger, but more of a craving for something processed. I still feel this way, but it is getting better. I expect it to take another week or so before I break the habit and rewire my brain to be satisfied with healthy foods. This rewiring process is precisely why I committed to this plan for a full 30 days.
I feel like I have lived this last week in the kitchen. Much like when I switched to a vegetarian and then vegan diet, the question “what am I gonna eat?!” is constantly going through your mind. Sure, you can plan out 2-3 meals in advance, but when you have to eat this way for every meal, day after day, it can be discombobulating at first.
Fortunately, I am starting to get the hang of it and it’s not taking quite as long to prepare meals. Eating this way is already becoming normal to me and I can feel the positive effects.
I started off making my own soy and almond milks, which only adds another layer of difficulty. Luckily, a wonderful reader, emailed me that Trader Joe’s has soy milk with just soybeans and water. It was fun to try making my own, but being able to buy it has saved a lot of time.
I am naturally very scrawny (6’1″ and about 145 lbs.) and I have been my whole life. It seems as if my body does everything it can to rid itself of all unnecessary weight.
Nevertheless, I went on a big push to build as much muscle as I could during the month of April. I started eating a lot of processed high-protein foods, stopped running so much, and lifted weights 2x per week. It was a struggle that took an insane amount of effort, but I was able to gain a whopping 4 pounds.
On this whole food diet, I have eaten just as many calories, but my body immediately stripped away that extra weight. By day 4, I was back to where I started at the beginning of April. This doesn’t bother me. I realized that trying to fight my natural weight is a losing battle. There is no reason to force myself to bulk up when my body will do everything it can to stay thin. If you’ve read my blog for long enough, you’ll know that I’m not one for coercing nature. Time to take my own advice and let my body do what it knows to be best.
Positive Health Benefits
It might be a little too early to tell how this diet has positively/negatively affected by life. After the first few days of withdrawals, I have noticed that I have a little more energy (mostly spent cooking. Ha!), and mental clarity/creativity. And despite the weird brownie cravings after each meal, I do feel happier and more content with the food I eat. However, these feelings are not too dramatic so far.
I was previously eating a fairly healthy diet and had no health problems. So, I’m not sure there is too much to be gained in terms of measurable health benefits for me. Since I’m still going through the adjustment period, I’ll save a full health update for the final 30-day post-mortem on this experiment. We shall see!
5.5 Delicious Whole Food Recipes
I don’t care whether you’re fully committed to this kind of diet, experimenting with healthy cooking, a vegetarian / vegan, or none of the above. These whole food recipes are amazing. They have quickly become my favorites and I think you’ll love them too.
My Breakfast “Big Bowl”
This monster breakfast has at least 30 grams of protein, lots of fiber, and it’ll keep you full for many hours. I adapted it from Rip Esselstyn’s “Big Bowl” to make it ‘one ingredient’ and added a few modifications. I thought it would be fun to do a video showing how I make this one…
At this point, it should be clear to you that I have a future as a celebrity chef on the Food Network
I didn’t include measurements in the video, as I usually don’t measure this. But a good starting point would be:
- 1/2 cup raw rolled oats
- 1/2 cup wheat berry flakes, toasted. You can also buy Uncle Sam cereal, but this is not a one ingredient food. I bought these on Amazon.com.
- Handful of raisins
- Handful of goji berries
- 1 banana
- 1/4 cup of walnuts
- 1 tablespoon of chia seeds
- 1 cup soy milk
I have been experimenting with this recipe ever since I found it on All Recipes over a year ago. This also makes amazing leftovers 1-2 days later.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 onion, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 (15 ounce) cans garbanzo beans (drained & rinsed)
- 2 (15 ounce) cans of diced tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon of each: cinnamon, cayenne pepper, cumin, coriander, turmeric, crushed whole cloves, grated ginger
- 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Brown basmati rice, cooked
- Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, and fry onions until slightly browned.
- Add garlic and half of the spices to the onions. Cook for 1 minute.
- Add both cans of drained garbanzo beans. Cook for 5 minutes.
- Add both cans of tomatoes. Stir in the other half of the spices (to taste).
- Let simmer for at least 30-40 minutes – the longer the better.
- Add the cilantro 1 minute before you’re ready to serve, save a little extra to garnish.
- Plate on top of freshly cooked brown basmati rice and dig in!
Black Bean Lettuce Wraps
I kind of invented this super-simple 5-minute lunch on the fly one day with a can of beans and some spices. It’s a perfect blend of spicy (cayenne pepper) and cool (coriander), and the cornmeal gives it the perfect texture.
- 1 can of black beans (16 oz)
- 1 small roma tomato, chopped
- 1 teaspoon of coriander
- 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons cornmeal
- Large romaine lettuce leaves
- Drain, rinse, and mash the black beans
- Add the beans to saucepan and stir in the tomato and spices
- Let cook for 5 minutes and add the cornmeal.
- Add the beans to the lettuce leaves, fold them like tacos, and enjoy!
The Ultimate Rice Bowl
This recipe is stolen from Steve Pavlina, who shared it last month. It has quickly become my absolute favorite meal and I eat it at least 2-3 times per week.
- 1-2 cups cooked brown rice, depending on how hungry you are
- 1/3 cup diced cucumber
- 1 small tomato, diced
- 4-5 sun dried tomatoes, each cut into 6-8 pieces
- 1/4 – 1/2 avocado, diced
- 2-4 tbsp minced green onion
- 1-2 tsp toasted sesame oil
- tamari to taste (left out – not exactly one ingredient)
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- Put the rice in a bowl.
- Add sesame oil, tamari, and sesame seeds. Use a fork to mix.
- Add cucumber, tomato, sun dried tomatoes, avocado, and green onion. Mix again.
Avocado-Lime Black Bean Salad
This recipe comes from my favorite vegan cooking blog, Oh She Glows. It’s a simple bean salad with lots of citrus and avocado. I made it for the first time last week and it was great. I modified the original recipe by adding the mango.
- Two 15-ounce can black beans
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
- 2 small shallots, diced
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- Pinch of sea salt, to taste
- Black pepper, to taste
- 1 large avocado, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 mango, cubed
- Add the beans (drained and rinsed) to a large bowl and toss with lime juice, cilantro leaves, diced shallot, and ground cumin.
- Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
- Refrigerate for 30+ minutes (I like this best cold, but you could also serve at room temperature)
- Toss in the sliced avocado when ready to serve.
BONUS: My Favorite 30-Second Salad Dressing
For a super quick and easy salad dressing, combine equal parts flax oil, apple cider vinegar, and agave nectar. Whisk together. Then, toss in 2 parts mashed avocado and whisk again. In addition to being delicious, this dressing is super healthy.
Now who said whole, one-ingredient foods can’t be delicious? 😉
Update: for more delicious and unprocessed recipes, please visit my new cooking blog, One Ingredient Chef »