We sat down with John Mackey, the CEO and founder of Whole Foods, to talk about the inspiration and philosophy behind the book.

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If you're a Whole Foods superfan, you're going to love this news: John Mackey, the founder and CEO of the supermarket megabrand, just released a cookbook so you can turn all that fresh produce you buy at Whole Foods into healthy, colorful meals. The Whole Foods Cookbook features 120 recipes that are 100% plant-based (another way to say vegan), 100% whole foods (no processed foods), 100% healthy, and 100% delicious, says Mackey.

Whole Foods Cookbook Cover
Credit: Ha Lam

Mackey co-wrote the book with Alona Pulde, MD and Matthew Lederman, MD, two doctors employed by Whole Foods Market, and Derek and Chad Sarno, sibling chefs behind Wicked Healthy. The chefs created the recipes, while Mackey set the parameters. 

"While I consider myself a very good cook, I do not consider myself a chef," Mackey says. "My contribution to the recipes (besides trying several of them) was to say 'Look guys, we need a cookbook that's going to be very approachable to people that don't really know how to cook.'" 

Honestly, that might be the book's best characteristic: Proving that you don't have to be a culinary wizard to cook up some delicious vegan meals. Nor, do you have to be plant-based to enjoy the recipes—there are a handful of suggestions for adding a little meat to your meal, plus you can improvise on your own by adding chicken to your casserole or a sprinkle of parm to your pasta. Mackey believes the book is a good gateway for people looking to add more veggies to their lives—trust me, after flipping through it, you'll be more than inspired to eat a few more servings of broccoli.

And besides the recipes (think wellness bowls, pizzas, one-pot meals, casseroles, and pastas), the book walks you through healthier versions of basic skills like sautéing without oil (seriously) and cooking beans and legumes. "We've got plenty of tricks on how to create great flavor using sauces, spices, and flavored garlic," says Mackey, "because if you're not going to be relying heavily on oils and salt, you've got to have methods to make your food delicious." There's a recipe for making your own spicy seed blend (to flavor pastas and rice dishes) using sunflower, sesame, and hemp seeds, plus nutritional yeast, onion granules, and jalapeño powder. 

Saag and Tofu Paneer
Saag and Tofu Paneer
| Credit: Derek Sarno

One of Mackey's favorite recipes is the Pesto Linguine with Lots of Greens. "The greens so take in the flavor of the pesto that even if you don't like greens you're going to like it," he says. "It's a great way to up the nutritional value while not having the greens overpower the flavor." Another of his favorites is the Saag & Tofu Paneer. "We're taking a traditional Indian cuisine, but replacing the paneer with tofu, which is never found in Indian cooking," Mackey says. "You have all these different types of cuisines that used to be separated, but now they're marrying each other, and we're getting these unique flavors that have never existed before."

The cookbook follows another book called The Whole Foods Diet, which is more of a deep dive into Mackey's personal eating philosophy (and not necessarily the Whole Foods' brand philosophy) on eating whole foods and 90% plants.

"The two books are a package deal," he says. "A lot of chronic diseases are primarily diet and lifestyle diseases—the science is getting clear, so I wanted to write a simple book that could communicate this, and then back it up with a cookbook."

If you want to taste a few of the recipes before purchasing the cookbook yourself, head to your local Whole Foods Market's. Half a dozen of the cookbook's recipes (including the linguine and the saag) will be rotating through the hot bar during November and December. See you there!

Buy The Whole Foods Cookbook on Amazon for $18.