What’s wrong with carbs?

Absolutely nothing when we’re talking about whole food plant based carbs.Potato_starch

The 3 basic types of carbohydrates are sugar, cellulose, and starch.

  • Sugar includes sucrose (granulated sugar), fructose (fruit), lactose (milk), and glucose (component of cellulose and starch).
  • Cellulose is found in plant cell walls and is better known as dietary fiber.  For a summary of the benefits of fiber, check out Fill Up With Fiber to Downsize and Cinco de Mayo.
  • Starch is known as complex carbohydrate, since starches are long branching chains of glucose molecules.  Starch gets broken down into simple sugars that provide sustained energy while keeping you full (McDougall 2012).

Examples of starches include grains (like brown rice, oats, and wild rice), legumes (like beans, peas, and lentils), and veggies (like sweet potatoes, winter squashes, carrots, and potatoes).  Because starches are carbohydrates, each gram of these foods contains only 4 calories, compared with 9 calories for each gram of fat.  As long as you eat the starches without butter, gravy, or meat (all of which are laden with fat), you are getting a lot of nutritious bang for your calorie buck.

Digestion of carbohydrates releases glucose into the bloodstream, which triggers release of insulin from the pancreas.  The insulin enables glucose to be transported into cells and used as energy.  This same process also happens for proteins – insulin is also needed for amino acids to be transported into cells to be used to build new proteins.  Actually, fish, beef, eggs, and cheese trigger as much or more insulin secretion as many high carb foods (Barnard 2014).

A prominent whole food plant based physician, John McDougall, has coined the term “starchivore” to describe those following his prescribed diet comprised of 70% starch, 20% vegetables, and 10% fruit (McDougall 2012).  If interested in more details about this plan, check out The Starch Solution.

Particularly if you exercise regularly and feel that you may not be fueling adequately or recovering quickly, try dramatically increasing the starchy veggies, legumes, and whole grains in your diet.  If you are already whole food plant based, incorporating more starches will be an easy change that may surprise you at what a difference it makes.

If you have not yet fully eliminated meat and dairy, filling those voids with starches will help quell cravings and keep you full longer.



Barnard, Neal.  Vegetarian Times “Doc on Call” January/February 2014.

McDougall JA and McDougall M. The Starch Solution. 2012

Photo Credit

Potato Starch:  http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/91/Potato_starch.jpg


Easy Sweet Potato Casserole

1 large sweet potato per serving

1/4 c fresh pineapple per serving

Bake or microwave the sweet potato.  Once cool enough to handle, remove the skin and mash the sweet potato.  Dice the fresh pineapple and add to the sweet potato.  Enjoy as is or heat in the oven until ready to serve.


Black Eyed Pea Salad

I realized mid-week that we weren’t eating enough legumes, and that I had the ingredients for one of my favorite bean salads except for the black eyed peas and bell peppers.  I used pinto beans instead and substituted celery for the peppers, and it turned out great.

One of the hardest things for me with this blog is writing down ingredients and measurements as I go along, because my cooking style is to make it up as I go along with as few ingredients and little time as possible.  My hope is that my readers take liberty with these recipes to adjust them to what they have on hand and to experiment with them to find out what works for you or your family.


Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Apples

1 lb brussel sprouts, ends removed and quartered

2 Granny Smith apples, cored and diced

fresh lemon juice or lemon pepper seasoning

salt and pepper (only if not using lemon pepper seasoning)

Optional: maple syrup

Combine the brussel sprouts and apples in a cast iron pan and sprinkle with lemon pepper seasoning if using.  Roast at 400′ for 20 min or until tender and lightly browned.  No water or oil is  needed, and after the cast iron pan is removed from the oven and cools for 5 min or so, the sprouts and apples will release from the pan.  If serving a dubious audience, drizzle the sprouts with maple syrup before or after roasting.  If using fresh lemon juice, sprinkle it over the sprouts and apples once they have been removed from the oven.


  1. Нello, I enјoy гeɑdinǥ through уokur article. I wanted to write a little comment
    to support you.

    • Catherine says:

      Thank you! I hope you continue to read posts and comment. I’d love to build ta community within these pages to modify recipes, exchange ideas, and spread the word about plant based diets!