Essential Eating in Action

Written by:

Suzanne Weaver-Goss


Updated: 01/23/2024

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Usually when I prepare for a vacation, I head to our local natural food store and stock up on good-for-you groceries that I know might be hard to find in an unfamiliar town. Okay…I also usually stop at a local brewery for a few six-packs of organic beer and the wine store for a couple of bottles of Sauvignon Blanc or Champagne.

A Sober, Sprouted Vacation

This year, while getting ready for our annual week at the beach in Rhode Island, instead of packing  the usual fare, I decided that it would be a good time to up the ante. Soon, I found myself loading the car with coolers of sprouted flour and quinoa flakes instead of beer and wine.

Maia, Felix, and my husband, John, enjoying one of our vacation’s rare sunny days.

After blogging about sprouted flour and Essential Eating two weeks ago, I was re-inspired to cook and bake and try another diet that promises health–and a flatter stomach to boot! Up until then, I’d used plenty of sprouted grains for baking, and eaten loads of Ezekiel breads and pastas to good results, but I’d not yet seriously tried the Essential Eating diet.

Essential Eating’s Basic Balancer Diet

The Essential Eating plan recommended by Janice Quinn involves several different diets, depending on your present health condition. The diet is broken into phases, which you move through as you experience improvements in your health and/or weight. Basically, the diet begins with the foods that are easiest to digest, gradually adding back harder to digest foods.

Based on my health assessment from Quinn’s Essential Eating Cookbook, I fell in the range of the Basic Balancer diet, which means I could eat:

•    60% vegetables, 20% fruits, and 20% everything else
•    no alcohol, coffee, or vinegar (no vinegar means no mayo, catsup, many salad dressings, or mustard)
•    no nuts or seeds
•    no sweeteners except maple syrup/sugar or stevia
•    100% sprouted grains and quinoa, their flours and pastas, quinoa flakes
•    limited fruits ( only dates, apricots, avocados, bananas, figs, and coconuts)
•    almost all vegetables, including potatoes and corn (no cabbage family veggies allowed)
•    no beans unless sprouted ( so no tofu or tempeh)
•    only butter and olive oil for fats
•    certain dairy products only (eggs,  yogurt, and kefir, kefir cheese, sour cream)
•    fish or chicken as the only meats (no shellfish)

What I Cooked

Our vacation was rainy, so there was a lot of time to cook. I made many batches of sprouted pancakes, French toast with yogurt instead of milk, and quinoa date bars for Felix (my grandson). We also tried quinoa stuffed peppers (delicious!), and even made some kefir cheese (which I have to admit was somewhat bland). My favorite treats were a few batches of carob brownies with a sour cream icing. My next blog post will talk more about carob and provide a recipe for these brownies.

Essential Eating Fatigue

Like all diets I’ve tried, (such as raw food, macrobiotic, or vegan), doing any phase of the Essential Eating plan requires a fair amount of time in the kitchen, and a lot of mental energy to remember what to eat and what not to eat! I enjoy the process of these new health kicks, but often find my motivation waning after a week or so and want to just eat whatever! Generally, I’m really strict for a time and then slowly come to a place of moderation, incorporating some important aspects of the new diet and abandoning those aspects that feel too restrictive.

For this go-around with Essential Eating, I stuck to Phase One for a week and then fell from grace and had a little wine and some homemade pasta at a great organic farm-to-table restaurant in Newport. Perhaps starting a new diet on a vacation was setting myself up for failure, but I was just too excited to wait!  I am re-entering Phase One again now that I am home—just as soon as I wean myself from coffee….again! I am allowed black and green tea only during Phase One.

Sprouted Flour Makes Me Happy

I must say that the sprouted flour part of the Essential Eating diet is entirely manageable, controls my belly fat, and gives me peace of mind on those weeks when I don’t eat as many veggies as I’d hoped. I’ll keep everyone posted on how Round Two of Phase One plays out!

Have any of you tried a new diet—whether for weight loss or general health—and been able to maintain the initial zeal and motivation for the long haul? Please share your stories!

Be well,

Suzanne, Certified Holistic Health Coach

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Leave a Reply

  1. Terry Avatar

    Thank you, Suzanne!!!

  2. Suzanne Avatar

    I have recently been enjoying a new cookbook that my husband bought me when he met Terry in NYC. It is called Clean Start and it is wonderful and the food delicious. I have been enjoying the fall recipes; there are great photos which always help inspire me. I highly recommend this cookbook to our readers!

  3. Suzanne Avatar


    I have never sprouted my own flour but you can certainly do that. I purchase the already sprouted flour at the health food store in my area. I live in Pennsylvania and it does seem easier to get it here. Janie Quinn who writes the Essential Eating cookbooks and spouts the flour lives in PA and writes about the benefits in her cookbooks. She does not however explain how to do it.
    If you are interested in sprouting your own flour, let me know I can post directions. I personally prefer to purchase it.

    Terry Walters author of a wonderful cookbook called Clean Start answered your question beautifully above on the benefits. Thank you Terry!

    Sally Fallon is another cookbook author who discusses sprouted grains and the health benefits in her book, Nourishing Traditions.

  4. Suzanne Avatar


    Only you can decide if green tea is good for you. I have just found that caffeine is not good for me. I occasionally try it and always come back to giving it up. I sleep better and generally have more sustained energy without caffeine. Having said that, green tea does seem to be less taxing on my body than coffee. Occasionally, I will indulge on a long drive so that I stay awake in the car!

  5. Terry Avatar

    Sprouting actually allows the grain to germinate which makes it easier to assimilate, more nutrient packed (actually more essential vitamins like B, C and digestive enzymes), easier to digest and even neutralizes phytic acid which interferes with the body's absorption of minerals. Sprouted flours are made from whole grains that are first sprouted, then dried at low temperatures and then milled into flour yielding a significantly more nutritious result that's much easier on our digestion. Sally Fallon writes on this at length in her book, Nourishing Traditions, if you're interested in more information.

    Thanks for your great work,


  6. Kate Avatar

    Hello! This is a wonderful blog and website. Could you say a bit more (or maybe even add a post) about sprouted flour? What is it? How do you do it? Why, exactly, is it good for you? Many thanks! Kate

  7. Terry Avatar

    Hi Maia & Suzanne,

    I met your dad/husband, John, at the Union Square Greenmarket a couple of weeks back and he shared with me your site. I'm loving it and so glad to see the insight you're providing to support healthy families! There are so many agendas other than our own permeating our food, our products and our environment in general. You're doing a great job empowering people to make healthy choices. In that vein, we're completely on the same page!!! Like you, I love "trying on" new approaches to diet as they always teach me at least one new thing about my unique constitution. But, when push comes to shove, I much prefer eating for balance based one's own unique constitution. Sounds like we're on the same page in that and many other regards! I will share a link to your "about" page on my Facebook page, CLEAN FOOD, and am sure there are others out there craving this information. In the meantime, keep up the great work and I hope you're enjoying your CLEAN FOOD and CLEAN START cookbooks!

    Eat clean live well!


  8. Jenna Avatar

    I'm a regular tea drinker, specifically loose green tea , does it mean it's a not a good to include it in your diet?

  9. Louie D Avatar
    Louie D

    During my flights to manila, I noticed that I gained weight. On closer inspection, I pigged out. Next time, I will observe my diet as vacations do not mean a respite from the diet as well.