Review: Learning to eat whole plant foods is a shift for most of us.
Vince Tucker, a Health and Wellness Coach and plant-based enthusiast, breaks down his first week eating from the new Whole Harvest box.
I became a conscious eater in 2001, switching to a meatless diet while still consuming eggs and dairy. I took the final step to a completely plant-based lifestyle in January of 2018.
While animal compassion was the primary motivator for this lifestyle change, I want the world to understand the underappreciated health benefits of plant-based eating.
There are certainly many delicious vegan alternatives to our favorite meat and dairy foods, but most of these are highly processed, often low in fiber, and have excessive added salt, sugar, and oil.
Learning to eat predominantly whole plant foods is a huge shift for most of us.
Is there a way to eat plant-based while avoiding processed foods and still have a pleasurable eating experience?
With some research, education, and support, the answer is a resounding yes!
There are tools in place that can help you in this transition. One of these tools is Whole Harvest.
Weekly Whole Harvest Box
The weekly Whole Harvest meal box delivery includes a variety of soups & salads, grain bowls, amongst other meal options that can be eaten warm or cold.
These meals are accompanied with a container of Organic Girl greens and a small bottle of oil-free vinaigrette (I also chose to add on an additional bottle of sweet soy to this order).
If that is not enough, Whole Harvest adds breakfast items such as smoothies (just add your favorite plant milk) and some of the most delicious granola I have ever eaten.
And finally, you will savor the many varieties of Harvest Bites, which are whole grain snacks sweetened with dates.
One of the best things about the new Harvest Box is that there are multiple ways to customize your meals.
When receiving my first box, I laid everything out on my kitchen island and literally planned what I was going to eat for each meal. I determined which meals I would add greens to and which ones I would use the dressing on.
Perhaps I was overthinking. I just love the variety of options that allow you to personalize this predetermined offering.
I have journaled my entire experience eating this Whole Harvest box, reflecting on the flavors and textures, the combinations that I put together, and the level of fullness and general satisfaction after finishing each meal.
It would be an understatement to say that I was not at all disappointed.
Day 1 Evening Meal: Crisp Kale & Dragon Berry Smoothie
I had never previously eaten buckwheat groats. I am a quinoa guy, but it keeps life interesting to try new things. I found out that I like the groats in this meal. I hope to have them in future Whole Harvest meals.
I mixed in a handful of Organic Girl greens to this meal and lightly drizzled it with dressing.
This dinner may be the perfect way to train your tastebuds to enjoy kale, this most amazingly healthy superfood.
The Whole Harvest kitchen staff take painstaking measures to tear the kale into little pieces, which keeps me from getting a big bite of this bitter green.
There are sweet red peppers and sweet soy sauce in every bite, providing a nice contrast to the kale. The mushy groats and chickpeas provide texture variance to the crunchy green.
[Dragon Berry Smoothie]
I chose to eat the Dragon Berry Smoothie for dessert after the Crisp Kale bowl. As this combo was so filling, I will save the smoothie for breakfast next time.
I had never previously eaten dragon fruit. This was fun. It was only barely sweet, which allowed the flavor of the greens to come through. We need to train our taste buds to appreciate the natural sweetness of fruit.
Processed sugar is an addictive substance that we would never find in nature. Our senses are naturally designed to have a healthy appetite for sugars in their natural form as part of a whole plant.
Day 2 Morning Meal: Mango Madness Granola
I chose to eat this for breakfast instead of as a snack. I put one cup in a bowl (about half of a bag) and added one cup of unsweetened soy milk. I took a bite without the mango, and it reminded me of my once-beloved Heartland cereal, a discontinued product that I used to eat with my dad every morning.
Of course, the mango is a nice touch, and the pepita seeds fill out the flavor profile. I had one ripe banana in my fruit bowl that needed to be eaten. I cut it up on my granola, and it completed my breakfast quite nicely. While I like my usual breakfast routine, the variety is welcome.
I would buy a bag of Mango Madness Granola if it was sold in stores. Good thing it will be a feature on Whole Harvest's rotating menu!
Day 2 Evening Meal: Butternut Polenta & Spaghetti with Vibrant Mediterranean Salad & Banana Crunch Parfait
[Butternut Polenta & Spaghetti]
I heated the butternut polenta patties separately because the bed of spaghetti was small and did not require as much time to heat.
I found this meal to taste the best when the patties are mashed together in the spaghetti. I thought that this was a very fine meal.
In order to ensure I had my dose of daily greens I created a side salad with the included Organic Girl greens and dressing.
If you want a cheesy flavor while keeping loyal to the whole-plant culinary style, consider sprinkling on a little bit of nutritional yeast, which will add essential vitamin B-12 to your plant-based meal.
[Vibrant Mediterranean Salad]
The Vibrant Mediterranean included in this Harvest Box is soooooooo good.
I heated this meal for about a minute and a half and tossed on a handful of greens and a splash of dressing. The roasted red peppers paired well with the parsley-mint cucumber and the garlic quinoa made a delicious base.
For dessert, I ate the Banana Crunch Parfait cold. This would also be a great breakfast item but I loved eating it as a healthy dessert.
[Banana Crunch Parfait]
How did Chef Richard get these sweet and crunchy dried bananas to taste so good with no oil!?
The perfect bite is when you get steel cut oats, dates, banana, and pepita on your spoon at the same time. And this parfait has a generous portion of dried bananas.
This cold sweet treat is more satisfying than ice cream.
Day 3 Evening Meal: Unfried Pineapple Rice
[Unfired Pineapple Rice]
One of my favorite meals so far is the Unfried Pineapple Rice.
I ate some without the greens, and loved it. Then I dropped in a few greens to get my daily boost of folate, iron, and magnesium.
The pineapples are tangy and also very sweet. The yellow peppers were a great compliment instead of the red peppers that are in many Whole Harvest meals.
(Chef Richard knows what he is doing!)
The brown rice is cooked to perfection. I can never get my own brown rice to cook like this.
This flavorful rice was not too sticky, chewy, or crunchy. It was so moist, allowing the sweet soy that I added to permeate the grains, enhancing the garlicky flavor.
I appreciate this sweet soy sauce for not having that overpowering saltiness found in most traditional soy sauces.
The crunchy celery provides a nice textural contrast. The peas, while not overly flavorful, provide yet another texture and good source of plant-based protein.
With sweet, tangy, and garlicky goodness, Chef Richard combines flavors and textures to perfection.
I want to hire him to be my personal chef…wait, I can just order his food and have it delivered to my home!
Day 4 Evening Meal: Winter Solstice
I began by tasting the cannellini beans separately. The hint of garlic was just perfect. Chef Richard only lightly seasoned the sweet potatoes, allowing the natural flavor to come through.
I can’t stress enough the importance of allowing the natural flavors of whole plant foods to reach our palates.
We are overstimulated with added salt, sugar, and fat in our meals, promoting food addiction and detaching us from appreciating the natural flavors of whole plant foods.
I added the provided vinaigrette dressing and a handful of mixed greens, which was perfect for this meal.
The Winter Solstice has an abundance of protein-rich quinoa and generous amounts of shredded carrots to make the meal complete and filling.
Every bite has at least one big hunk of a sweet potato or beet.
I just can’t get over how delicious these meals are, most of which require no heating or preparation, and are so good for our bodies, minds, and souls!
The Winter Solstice left me feeling physically satiated and divinely gratified for fortifying my body with a healthy variety of nature’s best offerings.
Day 4 Evening Snack: Harvest Bites Oatmeal Cookie
[Harvest Bites Oatmeal Cookie}
The Harvest Bites are one of my favorite additions to the new menu.
The Oatmeal Cookie Harvest Bites taste like…well…oatmeal cookies. They are small, half-round collections of oats, dates, and cinnamon.
They are fine at room temperature, but I prefer them cold.
When I keep them in the fridge, they taste just like cookie dough!
I sometimes ate these for dessert, and at other times, I ate them for a snack. Two of these for either a dessert or a snack is the perfect amount. One bag holds eight Harvest Bites.
Day 5 Evening Meal: Roasted Carrot Red Curry with Sesame Cucumber Salad
[Roasted Carrot Red Curry with Sesame Cucumber Salad]
I could smell the spicy aroma as soon as I opened the lid, giving me great anticipation.
The flavor was as good as what I eat at my favorite local Indian restaurant down the street – actually better because Indian food is usually too spicy for me.
The cucumber side salad was a nice balance. I took a couple handfuls of greens, topped it with the cucumber side salad bowl, and drizzled it with vinaigrette.
I delightfully finished the meal with two Oatmeal Cookie Harvest Bites.
Final Thoughts & Rating
Overall, I was quite impressed with my first Whole Harvest box.
I tend to prefer the offerings that are to be eaten cold, which is nearly every meal. I love Chef Richard’s culinary creativity in choosing unseemly ingredient combinations that end up being amazing together.
His meals delight my palate with the entire flavor profile while letting the earthy goodness of nature’s wholesome flavors come through.
There are multiple ways to put meals together, and some meals allow room for your own enhancements.
On a scale from 1 - 10, I give my first Whole Harvest box a solid 10!