One of the questions I get asked most often is just the basic one of how does a person do a whole foods, plant-based way of eating. Most of us were brought up with meat being the centerpiece on our plates.

But a plant-based way of eating turns that around and places the focus on the plants that we are eating.

Once we begin to eat more plant-based foods, the easier it becomes to make that the focus of our meals. How do we do that? It’s hard to get nine or more servings of fruits and vegetables on our plates, isn’t it? To which my answer is, “Not really.”

Here’s the secret to whole foods, plant-based eating. You go to the supermarket or the farmer’s market and you buy a bunch of produce. You take that produce home and you make something with it. And when you run out of food, you repeat that process.

That’s pretty simple, isn’t it?

Venture out of the produce aisles to maybe get some rice or other grains. Just make sure that what you’re buying is nothing but the grain. In other words, if you’re buying rice, then rice is the only ingredient you really want.

Go over to where the beans are and buy some beans. Dried beans are best because there’s no sodium that’s been added to them. Dried beans are also cheaper, so they’re almost always your best bet.

Making stuff can be fun. I often times just throw ingredients together without following a recipe. It’s called “buying what’s fresh when I go to the market.” And there’s almost always something that I can make.

If nothing else, a salad will work. I also use a book called “The Vegetarian Flavor Bible” by Karen Page. This book tells what foods are best paired with other foods in order to create a flavorful dish.

Salads can be made from a variety of fruits and vegetables. It can be fun sometimes to add a few ingredients that you’ve never used before to a salad.

If looking for something more standard, however, there are plenty of good cookbook authors who publish whole foods, plant-based recipes. Check out Lindsay Nixon (also known as The Happy Herbivore), LeAnne Campbell and Del Stroufe as three excellent cookbook authors for whole foods, plant-based eating.

Most of all, enjoy. This kind of food is very delicious and very flavorful.

J Lanning Smith is a local freelance writer focused on the whole foods, plant-based lifestyle.