Whole Foods I Never Bought Before Eating Clean

I had a reader recently tell me that she was intimidated by some of the ingredients I use in my recipes. I thought a post like this was in order.


I can understand how that reader felt. I, as well, had those same fears when I first started using whole food ingredients. I just picked 1 new thing a week and that helped me not feel so overwhelmed. You can read all about my start under the “about” section of the blog. Here is a list of foods I never used, and some I never heard of, in my first 35 years of life.

1. Coconut Oil – I avoided anything coconut like the plaque. First, I hated the taste, and second, I knew it contained a lot of saturated fat. At the time, I thought fats were bad. I have since learned otherwise.

2. Rolled Oats – My impression of eating oatmeal was getting the Quaker microwavable packets. I honestly thought they were healthy at the time. Now, rolled oats are a staple since I use them to make my homemade granola and my overnight oats.

3. Raw Honey – Since I was so used to processed sugar, I never really liked the taste of honey. I had actually never even heard of raw honey. Raw honey helps with seasonal allergies, so we always keep it on hand now.  Just make sure you get a locally made one to insure you are getting all the benefits.

4. Chia Seeds – When I heard about chia seeds, I immediately thought of the chia pets of the 80’s. Now I love them and often throw them in my smoothies and oatmeal.

5. Pure Maple Syrup – I must admit, in the past, my idea of maple syrup was getting a bottle of Aunt Jamima.(I know!) Just trying to be honest. Now I only buy pure maple syrup. When I first made the switch, I didn’t really like it. But as my body became less dependent on processed sugar, I started to notice that it was actually very sweet.  Now I use it often in baking.

6. Quinoa – I am not much of a rice fan, but my husband is. So we always had white or brown rice in the house. I had heard of quinoa, but never really bought it. We started to eat it once we learned it was a complete protein. Now we use it often, in place of rice.

7. Black Rice –  I had no idea that black rice even existed until I took a close look at the bulk bins at Whole Foods!  Now it is one of my favorite kinds of rice.  We almost never even use brown rice anymore.

8.  Medjool Dates – I have to be honest, when I first started to see recipes that called for medjool dates, I quickly skipped by them.  For some reason, I thought dates were the same as prunes.  I didn’t care too much for prunes.  Come to find out, they taste very different and quite delicious actually!  Try stuffing one with some almond butter and you will see what I mean. 🙂

Please do not feel intimidated by any of my recipes.  We are all on different paths and some are just starting out.  I think it’s good to remember we all felt like that in the beginning. 🙂


46 thoughts to “Whole Foods I Never Bought Before Eating Clean”

  1. Awesome post! I've been trying to eat healthy for a while now, but it is difficult when your significant other is not willing to make a change either. While my husband eats certain veggies and fruits, he cringes at the idea of raw/while foods. I'm trying to motivate him by showing how one's body can change for the better when we make conscious food choices. I started a 10-day juice fast today and may have to stay away from your blog for a while. Seeing all the goodies you make will be hard!
    1. Thank you! Good luck with your juice fast! I am going to start a 24 hour one tomorrow. If it goes well, I am going to extend it.
  2. How about whole wheat flour? I have switched t either 100% whole wheat flour in all my recipes (or spelt sometimes) and now I see groceries carrying bags of whole wheat flour saying 'natural' and some saying organic, and some saying neither. Which is better for you? What are their differences? I have always read t stay away from the words 'enriched, bleached, or that do not include 'whole' in front of it. Labels are so misleading!
    1. I use white whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour. I had been using it before we made the change too. If I were you, I would look for %100 whole wheat, white whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour. Try to get organic if you can. Spelt flour is good too.
  3. We ate a lot of those before we officially started clean eating, but just more sparingly. I laughed about the part on chia seeds. When I first brought home a bag, the first thing my husband said was "chia seeds? like the chia pets?!?"
  4. So true! I hadn't even heard of a leek before I changed my eating. Still have to experiment with Chia seeds. I've been meaning to try one of your recipes using them.
  5. Many of your recipes call for coconut...but I know you can't be using the shredded sugary coconut I see in the grocery store. What are you using and where do I get it? Thanks!
    1. I get unsweetened shredded coconut. You can find it on Amazon or at the health food stores. Same with the coconut oil and coconut butter I use in my recipes. None of them contain any sugar.
  6. I am brand new to your website and to whole foods. I have spent the last 48 hours pouring over this website and others. I appreciate you sharing how you started your journey, as it made me feel not so overwhelmed and that I can actually do this for myself, my husband, and our daughters. I recently bought coconut oil at Costco and used it for the first time when making blueberry muffins. I looked at your list of staples to have in the home but unfortunately we live in a small, rural town. The closest Wholefoods store is 5 hours away. Do you have other stores you recommend or places to online order that are not incredibly expensive? Thanks.
    1. I link up to Amazon in my recipes so that you can easily purchase them if you live in a rural area. Also, if you have a Kroger nearby, they have some great options when it comes to organic foods.
  7. This post was really enlightening! I have tried everything except medjool dates and black rice. To be honest I am still intimidated by dates and had no idea black rice existed until you mentioned it in this post. Thank you for that! I love your site. It is honest, well written and speaks well to the general public.
  8. Thanks for posting this. I am a healthy eater and avid runner but still get overwhelmed by all the options and information. I am looking at a bag of Chia Seeds that sounded good but I am afraid to start using. Ha!
    1. I love chia seeds! I have several recipes that call for them on my blog. They are also great in smoothies and on oatmeal. :)
  9. I love your recipes and try to eat whole foods myself. I also have insulin resistance, which means that I need to eat a low-sugar diet to prevent blood sugar swings. I have read that dates have a high glycemic index, so I have been avoiding them, but I notice that dates are in most of your recipes. Do you have any ideas for substitutions for the dates or other modifications? I would love to make snacks/treats for my family that I could eat too. I appreciate you advice! Thanks!
    1. You can buy it at a lot of grocery stores these days. Since so many people are going grain free, it is becoming more available. If you can't find it, then you can always sub another flour.
  10. I just wanted to say thank you so much for sharing all of these wonderful recipes! All of these recipes sound so good! I've only gotten to try a handful, but you are doing a great job! Thanks so much for sharing!
  11. Hi quick question! I've heard from others who follow the same ideas of eating and health, that maple syrup (even pure and the highest quality) is technically not "unprocessed" and that it doesn't contain a lot of benefits compared to the vitamins is say blackstrap molasses. Thoughts?
    1. I think when maple syrup is compared to blackstrap molasses, it is inferior. However, blackstrap molasses doesn't do well in a lot of baking recipes. I think any sweetener should be used in moderation, not matter what it is.
  12. Can I make nut butter myself.? How long do you run the food processor and how do you tell when it's done? Is it like making peanut butter (although I havn't tried that either? Seems like it is awful expensive in the stores. Thanks Val
    1. Nut butter is super easy to make! Make sure the nuts are raw, not roasted. You can use roasted, but you will need to add oil to them. Just grind the nuts up in the food processor or blender. I have done it in both and it’s much faster when done in a high powered blender. Peanuts take less than 5 minutes. Almonds take a little bit longer. You will be able to tell when it’s done. It should look spreadable when it’s done.
  13. Can you explain further about coconut oil? I feel the same way, coming from a family of doctors coconut anything was highly discouraged and now I see it everywhere. What are the benefits and which kind do you use, which do you avoid? Thanks!!!!!
    1. Here is an article on the uses and benefits. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/11/18/coconut-oil-uses.aspx Try to look for an unrefined coconut oil. I use this brand. http://tinyurl.com/coconut-mwfl
  14. Thanks so much for sharing these awesome recipes! Your site is very inspiring. I do have a question--I'm interested in significantly cutting out processed food for my family and cutting down on our consumption of meat, but we're not vegetarian. I'm still in search of healthy, whole foods recipes that include chicken and fish. I know you're family is vegan, but do you know of any good sources for non-vegetarian whole foods recipes?
    1. Thank you! You know, you can always add meat to many of my recipes if you like. :) Are you looking for other blogs? If so, here are a few good ones. http://www.eatgood4life.com/ http://alldayidreamaboutfood.com/ http://www.theclevercarrot.com/ http://thelemonbowl.com/
  15. I would just like to stay a words words of thanks. First, almost a year ago, I weighed the most I ever have in my life. That, combined with high cholesterol running in my family, and being out of shape (I was taking more breaths than normal), scarred the heck out of me. I realized that I needed to start changing. I began to exercise moderately everyday and as much as I wanted to stop for fast food and other unhealthy food, I didn't. I started cooking a lot more meatless dishes (though I still eat meat, just not as much), eating more fruits and veggies, and getting my sweets and vitamins and minerals naturally. I can say with confidence that my diet has made concrete changes in my mind about eating. I no longer crave so many sweets, so much meat, so many dairy dishes, and so many saturated fats. Today, I want to eat whole foods, to eat naturally, and I want more vegetarian meals. I can now appreciate food with layers of flavor and be happy that I don't have to fill up my plate with food at every meal. Throughout this time of changes, I came across your website, via Pintrest. I have not had good luck with other sites with vegetarians meals. (I am a great cook at the norm American diet but not a whole food, no butter, no refined carbs/sweets diet, so I've had to learn a lot.) Thus far, every one of your recipes have been nothing less than superb. I've had success making them all and they all taste so great. I do have trouble at times not indulging on these foods, but at least when I do, I'm able to forgive myself, move on, and know that what I just overate on was more healthy than the pounds of high cholesterol foods that I used to eat. I hope not to return to my old ways. Thank you for helping me so very much along my path. I look forward to trying more of your recipes. I'm glad that you were able to turn a corner in your life too - very inspirational!! If you have the chance, some tips on Asian; especially, Thai foods and cooking would be greatly appreciated.
    1. Thank you so much for writing this nice comment Ryan! It has truly made my day. Congrats to you on getting yourself healthier. I know that is not an easy battle at first, but I am sure you feel amazing now compared to what you used to feel like on the junk foods. I love Asian food and have several recipes. Here are some links for you. For the sauces, you can easily use them with vegetables and healthy proteins. They are very versatile. The fried rice with cashews is one of our favorites and we eat it at least a couple times a month. https://mywholefoodlife.com/2014/04/01/thai-peanut-sauce/ https://mywholefoodlife.com/2013/07/29/easy-teriyaki-sauce/ https://mywholefoodlife.com/2013/04/22/fried-rice-with-cashews/ https://mywholefoodlife.com/2014/01/19/toasted-sesame-asian-dressing/ https://mywholefoodlife.com/2014/01/25/homemade-sriracha-sauce/ https://mywholefoodlife.com/2013/01/27/cabbage-peanut-stir-fry/
      1. Thank you for those. I also forgot to say that I have since: lowered my blood pressure and pulse greatly and I improved my cardiovascular health. Thanks again. I look forward to trying these recipes
  16. Many people can have these fears when adjusting to a healthier lifestyle. There is something that makes one vulnerable when leaving old habits behind. I love the question......What is holding on to your unhealthy habits costing you? Happiness, fulfilling relationships, energy, self love, enjoyment, peace, or something else? Replacing foods one found comfort in with something unknown can create an insecure feeling. I love that no one is ever alone. So many support and encourage along the way. Love the Whole Food Life posts, comments, audience and recipes. Thanks!
  17. I see a lot of things that talk about "whole foods," but I could really use a definition for that since it seems to be a little scattered. When you say "whole foods," what exactly do you mean? Foods that have not been processed, like fresh vegetables? or foods that are raw? or foods that have never been heated? All the above? Help! I am very much in need of a healthier lifestyle. I'm desperate to get off the sugar addiction roller coaster, and I just feel lousy. But it seems when I read some of these blogs, they sound very intimidating.
    1. Hi Rebecca! It may mean different things to different people. For me, I like to stick to almost nothing processed. That includes processed sugars and processed flours. I eat fruits, veggies, plant proteins, healthy grains, nuts and seeds. I use those various ingredients to create recipes with. If I buy anything from a box/bag, I make sure it has a small amount of whole food ingredients. Like no more than 5. I hope that makes sense? If you are new to this, I highly recommend reading In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. Another great read is The Unhealthy Truth by Robyn O'Brien. I hope that helps a bit!

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