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Healthy Eating Means


Playing With Your Food by Dan Marek, Healthy Eating Specialist + Chef at Whole Foods Market


that if you were eating a whole foods diet, you would feel better and live longer—it just made sense,” John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, said during a recent speech addressing new stores in Canada.


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In 2009 we added “Promoting the health of our stakeholders through healthy eating education” to our core values, with the intention of inspiring our guests to make healthy choices and boost their vitality.


With the addition of this core value, we launched the Health Starts Here™ program, focusing on four simple pillars—Whole Foods (unprocessed foods), Healthy Fats, Plant-Strong™ and Nutrient Dense (explanations below).


As a healthy eating specialist at our flagship store in Austin, TX, my job is to help educate our guests and support them in finding their fullest health potential through cooking demonstrations and classes, community involvement, and individual sessions.


Initially, people are often skeptical about this style of cooking. Traditional chefs are trained to add more salt, butter, and oil to dishes to make them taste better. With Health Starts Here™, we don’t use oil, butter, or liquid dairy and we use very little sodium. One of the first questions I get from chefs trying to cook this way is “How do you cook without oil?” It’s actually simpler than you think.


Many of the techniques that we use as chefs in the Health Starts Here™ program were developed thousands of years ago. What do you think they cooked with before expeller-pressed oils were available? Water is the most common answer, but vegetable stocks,


You can find a host of Health Starts Here™ recipes and cooking techniques at www.wholefoodsmarket.com/healthstartshere/ or by emailing Dan at Dan.Marek@wholefoods.com.


t Whole Foods Market, we believe that healthy eating is a foundational principal for wellbeing and optimum health. “When we started the business, we sort of intuitively knew


wine and coconut water can be used too. For example, you can actually caramelize onions by putting a pan over high heat, waiting for the natural sugars to release (creating a browning


effect in the pan), then deglazing (adding liquid to release the browning) with two tablespoons of water. Repeat that process four times and you end up with a traditional tasting caramelized onion. It’s easy to get big flavor from dishes using this method.


Replacing dietary cholesterol with foods that have the same textures and satiation can be challenging. One of my favorite dairy substitutions uses cashews instead of dairy creams in traditional dishes like potato salad and tacos (see Cashew Cream recipe). One of my secrets to eating healthy is recreating dishes that are already family favorites. By using simple replacements, you will keep the same flavor profiles, therefore keeping your family’s favorite dishes on the table.


A big part of switching to a healthier diet is experimenting with your food to see what works and what doesn’t. One of my favorite sayings is, “When we were kids, we were told not to play with our food. As adults, it’s required.” So with that, go to your kitchen, break out the tools, and start playing with a couple of recipes to see what new healthy option you can put on the table.


CASHEW CREAM: 2 cups of raw, unsalted cashews, soaked overnight, then drained


1 tablespoon of champagne vinegar 2 tablespoons of lemon juice


Method: Blend in a blender until smooth, adding water for texture.


The Four Pillars of Health Starts Here™


WHOLE FOOD • Choose foods that are whole, fresh, natural, organic, local, seasonal and unprocessed. • Eliminate the consumption of refined, highly processed foods and foods devoid of nutrients, such as artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, sweeteners and hydrogenated fats.


PLANT-STRONG™ / RECONFIGURING THE PLATE: • No matter what type of diet you follow, including those that incorporate dairy, meat and/or seafood—eat a colorful variety of plants


to ensure you’re getting the best nutrients for your body, which leads to feeling satiated.


HEALTHY FATS • Get your healthy fats from plant sources, such as nuts, seeds and avocados while minimizing extracted oils and processed fats.


NUTRIENT-DENSE • Choose foods rich in nutrients when compared to their total caloric content, also known as foods with a high nutrient density.


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