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Mollie Katzen's Top 12 Plant Foods

By Mollie Katzen

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."
-Michael Pollan

Many of us have a notion that we need to choose between food that tastes good and food that is good for us. So either we get to enjoy eating, but we're fat and listless, or we're trim and buff, but miserable and deprived. I think that if I have to define my personal mission in one sentence or less, I would put it this way: You don't have to choose between good food and good health. You can have it all! OK, that was two sentences. But I believe in this message so much, a little overstating is worthwhile!

If you learn a few good cooking techniques and acquaint yourself with the vibrant world of fresh fruits and vegetables, exquisite, healthy eating will simply become a given in your life over time, I guarantee it. This list remains quite consistent for me, although it occasionally changes a little, as I read about new studies. Here is my current version. Please note that there are many other wonderful "superfoods" that are in the top 25 or 30. But this list is a good place to start.

(not in any particular order)

  • Broccoli (many nutrients, including sulforaphane--anticancer)
  • Cantaloupe (2 nutrients thought to prevent cancer and heart disease: vitamin C and carotenoids)
  • Plant FoodsSweet potatoes (beta-carotene--super antioxidant—plus good fiber)
  • Beans (fiber, iron, protein, calcium)
  • Garlic and onions (organosulfides and organoseleniums--anticancer)
  • Blueberries (iron, vitamins A and C, fiber, major antioxidants!)
  • Yogurt (live cultures are good for your digestive tract; 1 cup = 1/4 daily calcium)
  • Nuts, especially walnuts (healthy monounsaturated oil)
  • Tomatoes (lycopene is one of the most powerful antioxidants)
  • Olive oil (more very healthy monounsaturated oil)
  • Dark leafy greens--turnip, collard, kale, mustard, etc. (iron, calcium, antioxidants)
  • Whole grains (fiber keeps you feeling full, good for the digestive tract, helps trap some of the fat in your diet and carry it out of the body)


About the Author
With over 6 million books in print, Mollie Katzen is listed by the New York Times as one of the best-selling cookbook authors of all time. A 2007 inductee into the prestigious James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame, and largely credited with moving healthful vegetarian food from the "fringe" to the center of the American dinner plate, Ms. Katzen has been named by Health Magazine as one of "The Five Women Who Changed the Way We Eat." In addition she is a charter member of the Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Roundtable and an inaugural honoree of the Natural Health Hall of Fame.

An award-winning illustrator and designer as well as best-selling cookbook author and popular public speaker, Mollie Katzen is best known as the creator of the groundbreaking classics Moosewood Cookbook and The Enchanted Broccoli ForestHer other books include the award-winning children's cookbook trilogy, Pretend Soup, Honest Pretzels, and Salad People and a collaboration with Walter Willett, MD of Harvard, Eat, Drink, & Weigh Less. 

Since 2003, Ms. Katzen has been a consultant to Harvard University Dining Services, and co-creator of their new Food Literacy Project. She is also a culinary advisor to the University of California at Berkeley, a nationally syndicated columnist through the Chicago Tribune, and a contributing editor for SHAPE Magazine. Ms. Katzen’s company, Mollie Katzen Designs, provides creative menu designs for conferences and personal celebrations, and customized original Mollie Katzen artwork for collectors. In the fall of 2007, the Moosewood Cookbook will be celebrating its 30th anniversary!


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Kids love to watch and help their parents cook and bake. Cooking together is not only a great way to spend time with your kids, but can serve as an ideal opportunity to teach kids valuable skills and lessons about health and nutrition.



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