Michael Pollan likely didn't know just how much of an impact his now-famous adage, "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." would have on nutrition as we know it as he began his 2007 New York Times exposé on the problems within our modern food and health systems. Since then, many of us have been trying to incorporate more whole foods and fewer processed, packaged products into our diets; to practice portion control without driving ourselves crazy; and possibly the most important—to get ourselves (and our families) to eat more plants.
Pollan's sisters—Dana, Lori and actor Tracy—and their mother, Corky, seek to solve the "mostly plants" part of the equation with their stunning new cookbook of the same name. Mostly Plants is filled with 101 flexitarian recipes for vegans, vegetarians and carnivores alike—most of which are adaptable to gluten-free and dairy-free diets as well.
Related: 7 Tips for Clean Eating
Focus on Adding Healthy Foods to Your Diet
"We know so many people who are curious about the way we eat and felt we had an important message to share—that you can eat 'mostly plants' yet still enjoy the foods you want," Lori Pollan told EatingWell.com. "A lot of people want to eat this way but are daunted by the process of how to begin, and we wanted to bring lots of options and variety with this book."
The Pollan clan explains at the beginning of this book that these recipes aren't focused on what needs to be removed from your diet but rather what you can add to it—namely whole grains, legumes and fresh fruits and vegetables. From a 35-minute Shrimp Scampi with Zucchini Noodles (one of Tracy Pollan's go-to recipes) to a mouthwatering Three Greens Spanakopita Casserole and their Amped-Up Vegetable Nachos we've reprinted here, there is truly something for everyone at this dinner table.
"We were inspired to make really interesting recipes that don't take a lot of time to cook but still let you put a great meal on the table," Dana Pollan said. And many of these recipes do come together in about 30 minutes! Plus, there are plenty of one-pot, sheet-pan and skillet recipes for an easy cleanup after dinner.
3 Easy Pollan Family Tips for Loving Your Veggies More
While you'll want to start flipping through the beautiful pages of flexitarian appetizers, mains and sweets right away, the beginning of the book is a wealth of cooking knowledge for beginner and veteran home cooks alike. From different ways to balance flavor in your dishes—say if you got a little heavy-handed with the Sriracha—to a list of sage advice and "thyme-tested" shortcuts, the book is full of handy cooking tips and tricks. Here are a few ideas they shared with us:
1. Let the farmers' market guide you: Tracy says she lets the farmers' market or whatever produce is in-season at the moment inspire her cooking to create the most flavorful dishes.
2. Roast your vegetables: Dana says her secret to getting anyone to love veggies is roasting them, which caramelizes them on the outside and gives them the perfect texture on the inside. One of the Pollan family's tips for perfectly roasted veggies is making sure the pan isn't overcrowded, which would cause the veggies to steam and become soggy instead of browning them.
3. Add fresh herbs for a pop of flavor: Fresh herbs add great flavor to any vegetable dish. To quickly and efficiently chop herbs (and for a pretty presentation), the Pollans like to use the chiffonade method—stack the leaves, roll them tightly and cut across the rolled leaves with a sharp knife.
When it comes to their hopes for this cookbook, however, their goals span much further than encouraging people to eat more veggies for their own health—it's also for the health of the planet. "We love to see people eating more plants, but with so much uncertainty about our environment, anything we can do for our planet makes a difference and it becomes more than just about our own personal health," Tracy said.
Not only does reducing our meat consumption reduce our risk for chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer, but Tracy notes that if everyone in the United States went vegetarian for just one day, we would save 100 billion gallons of water—plus reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve our food resources. The Pollan family hopes that by taking small steps—like participating in Meatless Monday—instead of being overwhelmed by trying to go fully vegan or vegetarian, we can all be one step closer to a healthier body and planet.
Bottom Line: It's All About Small Changes
"I think this book will really change people's view of vegetables," Corky Pollan said. "Vegetables have become so interesting and this way of eating frees people up to still enjoy meat if they want it. I'm so happy to introduce something that boosts our health without having to completely change the way we like to eat."
Pictured recipe: Amped-Up Vegetable Nachos
Photographs by Nicole Franzen
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.