Whether you’re following a plant based diet (If you unsure what a plant based diet is, we have you covered) or just opting to try and eat more whole foods over the processed stuff, then this list of plant based whole foods is for you! It can sometimes be quite daunting heading to the supermarket and being overwhelmed by all of the tempting convenience options, but (without sounding patronising) if you head to the shops with a written down list, it can be much easier. In regards to ‘top 20’, these are my personal top 20 picks of my favourite plant based whole foods (and in no particular order).
Pink Lady Apples
Always on hand to curb a sweet tooth, apples are one of my go-to snacks (and I’m currently munching on one as I write this post). You can pick them up pretty much everywhere, have them in your bag at all times and they’re incredibly versatile – you can have them on their own, with some peanut butter or add them chopped into a salad (with walnuts obviously). The pink lady variety are my personal favourite as I have a major sweet tooth but all apples are good – they are packed with vitamin C, fibre and potassium.
Still known as one of the best ‘superfoods’, blueberries like other berries in the family are a fridge staple, especially on the list of plant based whole foods. If blueberries aren’t your favourite then raspberries, strawberries and blackberries are equally as good. I also find that with berries in general, they are a lot more reasonable if you pick up a frozen bag. Berries are also rich in vitamin C and fibre and contain many antioxidants.
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These fruits (I know – I want to think of them as a veg too) are packed with vitamins, antioxidants and potassium and when they are so versatile it’s hard to miss them out of your diet. My favourite tomato varieties are the little packs of cherry tomatoes with all different types and colours. The colourfulness really makes me happy!
Oats contain a good amount of carbs and protein, making them very satisfying and a breakfast staple for me. You can’t beat a warming bowl of porridge oats in the winter and equally a nice fruity bowl of overnight oats in the summer. It’s important to get protein into a plant based diet so these are a good option for sure. You can read my other article about how to ensure you’re getting enough protein on a plant based diet.
Being English, Brussels sprouts are one of the most British ingredients on any Christmas Dinner plate. Eaten only in winter time in the UK, I was pleasantly surprised to see Brussels here in the middle of June! I secretly hated them when I was younger and could maybe stomach one on my plate at Christmas, but as I’ve got older they’ve quite literally become my favourite green vegetable – who would have thought! Now I can’t get enough on my plate. Best served (in my opinion), roasted and added into a salad.
You can’t beat a corn on the cob fresh of the BBQ, and they’re a super simple side veg. Corn is best served fresh as this is when you get the most nutrients (compared to tinned which also often has added chemicals in).
Coming into season at the moment (I’m still sad that mangoes are on their way out!), experts believe that peaches are the fruit that can help reduce anxiety!
Nuts in general are incredibly nutritious and a no-brainer snack option. They contain healthy fats and can be incredibly satisfying (especially in Nut Butter format if made using 100% nuts are no added nasties!) Nuts are also relatively low in carbs if you’re aiming to keep the carbs down, with almonds being at the lower end of the list. Ensure you don’t have too many nuts though as the calories can creep up – try and stick to a handful. These plant based whole foods should be a staple in everyone’s diet.
When can you not fancy avocado? And what can you not put avocado on? Technically a fruit, it contains potassium and a healthy dose of mono-saturated fatty acids.
Whatever form you have coconut in, be it coconut oil, coconut butter or shredded coconut, coconuts are amazing. This fatty fruit contains fibre, vitamins and amino acids (to name a few) and is excellent for the brain. My favourite use for coconut oil is for cooking because it is highly resistant to high heats, making it so ideal for use. Not only do I love eating coconut though, it is also great oil for putting on your hair and body.
Maybe more associated with summer, watermelon is a high volume snack that is low in calories. As you might guess from the name, it’s made up most of water at 92%. Despite this, it’s a nutrient dense food that provides high levels of vitamins and minerals.
On the satiety scale, white potatoes have proven to be the best food for making you feel satisfied! Potatoes come in many forms (white, red, purple and sweet) and my favourite is a sweet potato – either as wedges or baked. All varieties offer antioxidants and vitamins and are a good source of carbohydrate.
Rice is such a cupboard staple and inexpensive way to bulk out a meal and fill you up. Similarly to potatoes, rice comes in many forms from basmati, to jasmine, to red rice to name a few. Mix it up and try different varieties with different meals.
Another great way to bulk out a meal is by incorporating chickpeas. They aren’t just good in hummus; they’re great in salads and in many other dishes too. They contain a good amount of protein and fibre and the good news is, they’re super cheap and a good cupboard staple. Look out for chickpea flour too in your health food aisle as this is a great replacement for processed flours.
Now I couldn’t write a blog post without including peanut butter… although I previously mentioned nuts as a whole in my top 20, peanut butter does have to have a separate mention. Ensure your peanut butter is 100% peanuts (or other nuts too) for maximum goodness. You could also make your own too!
As mentioned in my other article regarding protein on a plant based diet you’ll understand that you need to ensure you’re getting protein into your diet. Quinoa is a great source of protein, with one (cooked) cup containing around 8g. Labelled as a ‘super food’ it contains magnesium, folate and copper amongst other vitamins. Making it a must in this list of plant based whole foods.
Similarly to chickpeas, they are a great cupboard staple to have at hand. They are incredibly versatile and can bulk out many dishes and salads. They also contain a decent amount of protein and fibre!
As mentioned in my 20 lowest carb fruit article, pineapple contains bromelain, a digestive enzyme that reduces bloat by helping to break down your foods. Pineapple is also known to help with muscle fatigue because the fruit provides compounds that help fight pain and inflammation, so is a good one to add to the shopping list if you’re working those muscles in the gym.
Seaweed in my favourite form comes as a seaweed salad in my local Poke Bowl restaurant! It’s great for getting your omega-3 in and also contains a plethora of vitamins.
Last but not least, and by no means my least favourite, its lemons. Not usually for eating, I love to add lemons into my water and I love to squeeze them over salad. Lemons contain high amounts of vitamin C and are one of my fridge staples.
Hopefully the above list gives you an insight as to some of my favourite plant based whole foods. You may notice that there are a lot of fruits on there, and that is because I love them! I’d probably eat them for every meal if I could. I try to mix my shopping list up every week to ensure I look forward to meals and get a variety of vitamins and minerals in from different foods! Happy shopping ☺.