It's often an intellectual decision to follow a whole-food plant-based, no-added-oil diet. We become convinced by logic and the weight of scientific evidence that this is the best path to optimal health. And then our practical side kicks in, and we wonder, "What will I eat? How will I cook?" This is an even more pressing issue as the holidays role around.

Cathy Fisher at offers some help. Cathy is a culinary instructor at the McDougall Program and TrueNorth Health. In describing her style of cooking and eating, Cathy says, "My focus is not only on consuming a vegan diet (avoiding animal foods and ingredients), but one that actually *promotes* excellent health. Toward this, my recipes are based on whole foods (still in their naturally grown state) except for a handful of minimally processed foods used for convenience (such as canned beans, frozen produce, non-dairy milks). I often note substitutions to lower fat, and all recipes are gluten-free. Recipes are easy to prepare and call for ingredients that are easy to find."

For holiday cooks, Cathy offers recipes such as Pumpkin Pie Squares, Holiday Quinoa Dressing, and Raw Cranberry-Persimmon Relish.

While I'm excited whenever I find chefs like Cathy who share my passion for health and good food, I always advise my patients to keep their individual health goals in mind as they evaluate new recipes. Those on the Starch-Smarter or Starch-Smartest System who are reversing serious illness or struggling to lose weight are encouraged to avoid certain foods, enabling their bodies to heal faster. For example, patients who are young, active, healthy, and trim could enjoy a sprinkling of nuts in their diet whereas those struggling to regain health must be more restrictive with fats found in nuts and seeds.

Whatever our current condition, deciding to eat for optimal health is a great choice. My thanks to Cathy for showing us more ways to celebrate the season with whole-plant foods!

Image Credit - Sweet Potato-Pecan Pie