Simply Vegan

Healthy Vegan Living

By Rule of Thumb: 5 Ingredients or Less?

I don’t know if anyone else experiences this, but sometimes I get extremely adamant about a goal and once I achieve and maintain it, I slowly forget it even exists. For example, knitting and reading. I have so many work in progress projects, it’s ridiculous. One half knitted sweater lays on top of a pile of yarn as a pair of knitting needles pop out of a blanket three quarters finished. Moreover, I’m in the middle of reading The Motorcycle Diaries,Caramelo, and Robert Kennedy: His Life. Mind you, it’s been a year now!! Even this afternoon, a facebook friend suggested I watch the Future of Food, which reminded me I was in the middle of watching it a month ago and Crude two weeks ago! Hmm, do we see a pattern? I hope I’m not as capricious as I feel.

Well, the same thing has happened to my rule of 5 ingredients or less. This is something I read about in Marion Nestle’s, What to Eat. In her book, she mentions limiting your intake of processed foods by assessing the number of ingredients a food item has. If I remember correctly, she quoted something close to 5 ingredients or less. Of course when I read this, my thoughts were: “I can do this! I’ll revamp everything I eat and prepare everything from scratch.” Crap – I even started picking my neighbor’s figs and started roaming my neighborhood looking for pomegranates and avocados (I used to live in San Diego, CA). I was on the prowl for veggies and fruits and a healthier way of life. I’m surprised I didn’t end up in someone’s garden secretly growing my own organic refrigerator from behind a tree.

But somehow my zest for simplifying my plate’s contents got lost three years later. In between my daily commute from Philadelphia to NYC and bombarded with stress and never ending schoolwork, my love for minimalism shifted to easy and expensive vegan prepackaged meals. It wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago when I started feeling physically ill that I remembered Nestle’s rule of thumb. Not to say that altering one’s diet should replace seeking a trained physician’s advice. But in my case, I know my digestive problems and food sensitivities aren’t serious.

And so I’ve begun again. Here’s a recipe I originally saw on a vegan website a while ago, but I’ve modified it a bit:


Start the Day with Me:

1 banana (sliced)
7 mango chunks from Trader Joe’s (sliced)
1/4 cup of blueberries from Whole Foods (I don’t like the ones at Trader Joe’s for some reason)
2 tbs of chopped walnuts
1/4 cup unsweetened soy milk from Trader Joe’s

Preparation: this recipe is really self explanatory except for the fruit. I use frozen fruit. So if you opt to do the same, just defrost them by running them under warm water for a bit. Sometimes I alternate between mango and peaches, blueberries and strawberries, and walnuts and flax seeds. I try to color code my alternates for the sake of phytonutrients and when I’m extra daring, I include a SIXTH ingredient . . . . . 1 tbs of chopped dates.


It’s interesting how sometimes the most simple foods can come out as visually appealing or exude just as much flavor as a gourmet guru’s A+ plate. Not that there’s anything wrong with gourmet cuisine. I’m just saying sometimes simple is just as plentiful.


March 14, 2010 - Posted by | Nutrition, Vegan | , ,

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