An A to Z Guide to Lectin-Free Cooking
Welcome to my kindergarten class! This lesson is for newbies to the lectin-free lifestyle or those who simply like to look at pictures of delicious ingredients (so, everyone) This is no ordinary alphabet. C is for cat? Come on, cats don’t even like us! This alphabet is about all things lectin-free, where C definitely stands for chocolate and every other letter represents something equally as beneficial and nourishing for our bodies.
This article contains affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy for more information.
The Lectin-Free Alphabet
For each letter of the alphabet, I’ve chosen a popular food item or items that I’ve incorporated into my lectin-less lifestyle on a regular basis. I’ve also provided links to my favorite foods and products I personally use and recommend in baking and cooking. So, everyone sit cross-legged on your virtual mat and get ready for some learnin.’
- Avocados are recommended every single day on the Plant Paradox diet.
- They’re actually a botanical fruit, and they have the highest fiber content of any.
- Avocados are one of the only fruits high in monounsaturated fat (the kind that lowers bad cholesterol). They’re extremely good for your brain, heart, skin, and pretty much every organ in your body!
Favorite avocado product: avocado oil
- Basil makes awesome pesto, and that’s a fact, not an opinion–just ask the Genoans.
- There are different varieties, with aromas ranging from cloves, to lemon, to cinnamon.
- Basil is part of the mint family, and some adventurous palates enjoy it in things like chocolate and ice cream.
- It’s also a natural insect repellent (all the more reason to plant some in your backyard).
Favorite basil product: pesto paste
- Or cacao or cocoa–there’s a difference.
- CACAO is the name of the bean and anything derived from the bean (nibs, butter, powder)
- COCOA is the name of the powder made from ground cacao beans roasted at high temperatures.
- Either way, chocolate is lectin-free and the cure for everything. (anecdotal evidence)
Favorite chocolate: Midnight Reverie squares
- Besides dandelions, other popular ones are calendula, hibiscus, figs (yup, flowers), zucchini blossoms, lavenders, pansies, roses, sage flowers, and violets.
- Try tossing them into salads or grinding them into a smoothie.
- Before you shop for dandelions in your front yard, make sure they’re actual dandelions and not look-alikes. Dandelion flowers grow on single, long, hairless stems (not branched).
Favorite dandelion product: root detox tea
- Local pastured eggs will look like your farmer woke up and went for an easter egg hunt.
- Eating one is like taking a multi-vitamin–a single egg has vitamins A, B2, B5, B6, B12, D, E, K, folate, phosphorus, choline, selenium, calcium, and zinc.
- Although they’re are high in cholesterol, eggs do NOT raise bad cholesterol.
- Plant Paradox recommended eggs (pastured/omega-3) will also lower triglycerides.
- Duck eggs make fluffier, higher-rising baked goods than chicken eggs (try them sometime!)
Favorite product for vegan baking: vegan egg replacer
- Feta cheese can be a trickster because the “rules” surrounding Feta in most parts of the world are not the same as they are in Greece.
- True Feta cheese is made with sheeps milk (and sometimes goat); *never* cows milk.
- The Greeks feel cows milk yields a crumbly, sour-tasting block. The rest of the world doesn’t seem to care one way or the other.
- Read your labels if your “Feta” is not imported from Greece.
Make your own: Feta cheese starter culture
- As the first recipe on the cleanse, the Green Smoothie is most people’s first taste of the Plant Paradox. I’ve made some personal tweaks that I think improve it.
- I replace the filtered water with cold sparkling mineral water and the mint sprig with an inch of fresh ginger.
- Sometimes, I’ll add half a green banana for some extra resistant starch or use a mix of baby super greens (kale, chard, spinach) instead of romaine.
- The more ice cubes, the better. It’s not possible for this smoothie to be *too* cold.
Favorite supplement to add to the green smoothie: concentrated polyphenols
- Hemp is not the same thing as marijuana; however, both plants are part of the cannabis family.
- Hemp is used for everything from skin care products to clothing to dietary supplements. There are over 25,000 known uses for it.
- Hemp hearts are one of the best sources of lectin-free vegan protein, also containing both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, vitamins A, B1, B2, D and E, calcium, and iron.
- They’re excellent sprinkled on salads and soups or blended into smoothies for a shot of plant-based protein.
Favorite hemp heart product: Manitoba Harvest
- Inulin itself is not a flower, but industrial producers s extract it from the roots of this flowering woody perennial–chicory.
- To make pure inulin, the fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) are chemically extracted from the chicory roots and purified in liquid or granular form.
- FOS are long chains of fructose units held together by molecular bonds. Human gut enzymes cannot digest them.
- Inulin specifically describes FOS that are more than 10 units long.
Favorite inulin product: Pure Organic
- This native Mexican apple potato looking thing is a lectin-free source of inulin and resistant starch.
- It’s high in potassium (yes, a vegetable source!) and one serving has 44% of your daily value of vitamin C.
- Jicama contains folates, riboflavin, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, thiamin, magnesium, copper, iron, and manganese.
- It tastes like a savory apple and pairs splendidly with guacamole if you peel and cut them into dipping sticks.
Favorite jicama product: jicama chips
- Doing away with harmful lectins isn’t just for adults–kids can learn to love lectin-free foods too.
- Stock up on their favorite compliant things. Even if you’re giving them olives at literally every meal, it’s better than Cheetos.
- Keep offering–you never know when they’ll surprise you and decide to try something they refused to touch in the past.
- If your kids are simply “along for the ride,” introduce them to phase 3 options. Peel and deseed ripe, locally grown tomatoes or pressure cook some squash.
- If all else fails, make a huge dramatic show of shoving greens in your mouth and going YUM. They might fall for it…someday.
Favorite kids item: stainless steel sippy cup
- According to Dr. Gundry, we can never, ever eat enough leafy greens to satisfy our gut bugs.
- There are so many options, though, you can give it your best shot: arugula, Boston, cabbage, collards, dandelion greens, endive, escarole, fennel, green leaf, herbs, hydroponic, iceberg, kale, lettuce, mustard greens, Napa cabbage, red leaf, radicchio, spinach, Swiss chard, watercress…
Favorite leafy green snack: kale chips
- Monk fruit and luo han guo are the same thing, but listed as two separate sweeteners on the Plant Paradox Yes list.
- The unit extracted from the fruit to make sweetener is called a glycoside, a form of stored energy for the plant.
- These little storage units are up to 400 times sweeter than white table sugar. You need mere drops of liquid monk fruit extract to sweeten an entire recipe (same for stevia).
- To make a table or brown sugar substitute, the monk fruit extract is mixed with a less-sweet filler, like granular erythritol.
Favorite monk fruit product: golden 1:1 sugar substitute
- Plant Paradox allows for certain nuts in limited quantities (up to 1/2 cup per day).
- Pecans have the highest fat content of any kind of nut.
- Macadamias contain the lowest omega-6 to omega-3 ratio (6:1), which is good for a western diet rich in omega-6 (we need both in our diet).
- Coconut contains medium-chain fatty acids, which strengthen the immune system by disrupting the protective outer coating on viruses (lipid bilayer).
- Almonds are lectin-free only *without* the skins.
Favorite nut product: pecan butter
- In southern Europe, most people eat an entire liter of extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) per week.
- Farmers produce olive oil by crushing the olives and pressing out the juice. They use no chemicals, solvents, industrial refining, or high temperatures.
- Many refer to olive oil as “the healthiest fat on Earth” because of its high amounts of antioxidants that are proven to reduce inflammation.
- Studies show that 3.5 tablespoons of olive oil reduces inflammation as effectively as a tenth of an adult dose of ibuprofen.
- It also improves the blood vessel linings, prevents blood clots, lowers blood pressure, and clears plaques from the brain associated with Alzheimers disease.
Favorite extra-virgin olive oil: California Olive Ranch
- The process for selecting and raising pigs and curing the meat for prosciutto goes back thousands of years in 11 regions in and around Parma, Italy.
- Farmers and butchers use the hind legs of the highest quality heritage pig breeds for prosciutto. They cure it using only sea salt, air, and time.
- It’s aged a minimum of 400 days and does not need to be cooked before eating (though some of us like it crispy).
- Farmers have geographically protected the label “di Parma” to indicate ham from one of the official prosciutto producers in or around Parma, subject to strict quality and curing process regulations.
Favorite prosciutto di Parma: Beretta
- These are quick, portable, AND lectin-free, eaten sparingly.
- The approved flavors are Double Chocolate Chunk (pictured), Banana Nut, Cinnamon Roll, Strawberry Cheesecake, and Lemon Cream Pie.
Favorite Quest bar: Cinnamon Roll
- Resistant starch is its own category on the Plant Paradox Yes list, consisting of root vegetables and unripe fruits that are full of highly fermentable prebiotic fiber.
- Green plantains are very starchy and full of vitamins B6, magnesium, and potassium.
- Jicama, or “Mexican potatoes,” are high in potassium and vitamin C.
- Tortillas can be made using only cassava flour.
- Orange sweet potatoes are an unsurpassed source of beta-carotene. They act as a precursor to the body’s absorption of vitamin A (significantly increases when consumed with fat).
Favorite resistant starch: cassava flour
- The fastest lectin-free meal base ever, shirataki noodles take 5 minutes to drain, rinse, and heat.
- They don’t have the texture of traditional wheat flour noodles. They are essentially flavorless and will take on the flavor of whatever you’re mixing them with.
- Also called konjac noodles, they’re made from the flour of the konjac root, which is a traditional medicinal plant native to the Asian continent.
- The noodles are nearly calorie-free due to their resistant starch content (prebiotic fiber), and they’re highly efficient at feeding gut bacteria (the good kind).
Favorite shirataki noodles: Skinny Pasta variety pack
- Tigernut flour is one of 12 grain-free flours approved for a lectin-free diet.
- Tiger nuts are a resistant starch, full of prebiotic fiber that feed the gut’s good bacteria.
- Despite the name, it’s a nut free flour–tiger nuts are actually small root vegetables with a slightly sweet taste, enabling one to cut back on sweetener in baked goods.
- The roots are also used to make a plant-based milk called horchata. Horchata is considered a “superfood” on par with olive oil, because of it’s 100% healthy fat, non-animal protein, dietary fiber, magnesium, and potassium content.
Favorite tigernut flour: Anthony’s
- Nutritionists and doctors call these the “heart healthy” fats. It’s crucial to get a balance of all the unsaturated fats for optimal cellular function.
- Omega-3 is in “oily” fish–sardines, salmon, and mackerel–flax seeds, walnuts, and pastured eggs.
- An ideal source of omega-6 is in combination with omega-3 and at a close ratio, such as the ratio in macadamias, walnuts, brazil nuts, pecans, and pine nuts.
- Monounsaturated fats–found in olive oil and avocados–are crucial for lowering bad cholesterol and “lubricating” the body.
Favorite source of omega-3: Norwegian cod liver oil
- All vinegars are approved on a lectin-free diet, and you should never buy another salad dressing. Not when there are SO many amazing vinegars to try.
- Balsamic and red wine vinegars are anti-glycemic, meaning they prevent blood sugar spikes. They also contains the polyphenols of grapes, without the sugar.
- Apple cider vinegar has helped many relieve symptoms of reflux and GERD.
- The polyphenols in lectin-free fruit-infused vinegars enable you to consume the antioxidants in fruit without the glycemic load.
Favorite vinegar: black mission fig-infused balsamic
- Water is the most important thing to have when you’re eating the second most important food group on the Gundry food pyramid: nothing.
- All teas–even fruit teas–are approved (as long as there’s no added sugar).
- Save money on boxed broth and make your own. Toss veggie scraps in an Instant Pot with water and seasonings, and use the broth program for your very own soup broth.
- Drinking flavor-infused mineral water or sparkling water is like drinking a refreshing soda (without the aspartame).
- Coffee is life.
Favorite water: sparkling mineral water
- Xylitol is a sugar alcohol. This means it has molecular properties of both sugar and alcohol.
- It’s non-fermentable and indigestible, and it does not contribute to tooth decay like sugars do.
- Too much sugar alcohol can cause abdominal discomfort and GI distress (a “laxation threshold”).
- Because of this threshold and because it has a sweet taste, “retreat” or at least use sparingly.
Favorite xylitol product: Now Foods sweetener
- Yuca root (cassava) is a sub-tropical crop popular in south and central America. The root often takes lots of preparation, but it’s versatile and starchy.
- South Americans have their own version of French fries. They peel, cut, boil, and then deep fry or bake yuca root in an oven for a crispy, delicious treat.
- Cassava flour is ground yuca root. It makes a great lectin-free alternative to wheat flour in things like tortillas, pancakes, crepes, and traditional Brazilian cheesy bread.
- Tapioca starch is the extracted starch of the yuca root. It makes a great thickener in stews, puddings, and baked goods (careful, the glycemic load is still high).
Favorite yuca (cassava) product: cassava chips
- Zinc is a trace mineral that acts as an antioxidant in the body, fighting damage from free radicals.
- Many people with GI diseases are deficient in zinc (perhaps due to absorption issues).
- Mushrooms, goat or sheeps milk yogurt and kefir, spinach, cacao, cocoa powder, and chocolate are all high in zinc.
Favorite product high in zinc: organic cacao powder
Now I Know My Lectin-Free