Want To Eat Like the Longest-Living People on the Planet? Try These Plant-Based Recipes With 5 Ingredients or Less

Photo: Stocksy/Andrew Cebulka
The wait is finally over, and the one item your holiday wishlist has been missing has finally hit the (book) shelves. Dan Buettner, the New York Times bestselling author of titles like The Blue Zones Kitchen and The Blue Zones and a National Geographic Fellow, has released his latest (and potentially greatest) book yet, The Blue Zones American Kitchen: 100 Recipes to Live to 100. And we couldn’t be more excited to share the news.

Buettner, who has closely studied the hotspots that are home to the longest-living people in the world, focuses on reconstructing a largely-forgotten American diet that closely resembles the dietary patterns found in the Blue Zones in this new release. “For the book, I've exhumed more than 60 oral histories, scientific reports, and academic papers to reconstruct four traditional American diets from the early 20th century,” Buettner says. “The scope of the work is ethnically and racially diverse—it precisely captures the diets of Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, African Americans, as well as Native Americans.”

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The book is comprised of more than 100 plant-based recipes that, according to Buettner, “showcase the ingenuity of our Indigenous people and our immigrants who brought their time-honored cooking techniques from the Old World and blended New World ingredients to produce ingenious food that just may help you live to 100.” He also notes that the data-driven representation of what Americans were really eating a century ago closely represented what was found in his original Blue Zones research.

To get an inside glimpse into the book, Buettner kindly has shared a few of his favorite five-ingredient (or less) recipes so you can get cooking right away. And they’re filled with longevity-boosting ingredients to nourish your body with the same type of nutrient-rich foods found in the Blue Zones, where people live well into their 100s.

5 longevity-boosting recipes from The Blue Zones American Kitchen

blue zones American kitchen beans
Photo: David McLain

Mohawk Baked Beans

Recipe by Dave Smoke McCluskey
Yields 6-8 servings

2 pounds dried cranberry beans
1 large onion, diced
1/4 cup darkest maple syrup
2 Tsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp yellow mustard
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Place the beans in a large pot and cover them with cold water. Soak them overnight. Drain.

2. Put the beans in a Dutch oven or oven-safe pot and cover them with water. Bring them to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the beans are al dente.

3. Once the beans are al dente, add the onion, maple syrup, tomato paste, and mustard. Put them in the oven and set the oven to 225°F. Let the beans cook 8 hours or overnight, checking occasionally and adding water if needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

blue zones American kitchen mash
Photo: David McLain

Warriors of the Rainbow Cranberry Mush

Recipe by Dave Smoke McCluskey
Yields 6 servings

4 cups water
4 cups almond milk
1 pound fresh cranberries or 1/2 pound dried cranberries
3 cups hominy grits
1 cup maple syrup, or to taste
Optional toppings: pumpkin seeds, pecans, dried cherries, or maple sugar

1. In a large pot, combine the water, almond milk, and cranberries and bring to a boil over high heat.

2. Reduce the heat to medium-low, stir in the grits, and let simmer for 45 to 60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the grits have absorbed the liquid and are very tender.

3. Stir in the maple syrup and serve hot with desired toppings, if using.

blue zones American kitchen coconut rice
Photo: David McLain

Coconut Rice

Recipe by Nicole Marquis
Yields 6 servings

2 Tbsp dried coconut shreds
3 cups long-grain rice
2 cans unsweetened coconut milk
2 1/2 cups water
2 Tsp cane sugar

1. In a small sauté pan over medium-low heat, sauté the dried coconut until golden brown throughout. Set aside.

2. In a rice cooker, combine the rice, coconut milk, water, and sugar. Cover and turn on the rice cooker. (Alternatively, cook the rice in a covered pot.)

3. Once the rice is cooked, fold in the toasted coconut.

blue zones American kitchen corn
Photo: David McLain

Cambodian Coconut Corn

Recipe by Chad Phuong
Yields 3 servings

2 cups fresh corn kernels
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 Tsp salt
1/4 cup chives, chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the corn kernels in a baking dish in an even layer and roast them in the oven for 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the coconut milk to a boil.

3. Add the sugar and salt and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 5 minutes.

4. Add the chives and simmer for 1 minute more.

5. Pour the coconut milk mixture over the corn kernels and return the dish to the oven to bake for about 5 minutes, until lightly brown on top.

blue zones American kitchen succotash
Photo: David McLain

1620s Plymouth Succotash

Recipe by Paula Marcoux
Yields 5 servings

2 pounds cooked, hulled corn (or reconstituted dry whole hominy, frozen hominy, or pozole)
8 ounces dried cranberry beans (or Jacob’s cattle beans or other similar beans), soaked and cooked until just tender

Optional add-ins:
2 turnips, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 acorn squash or other winter squash, seeded and sliced
Few handfuls of chopped cabbage, collards, or turnip greens
2 leeks or onions, sliced
Few handfuls of chopped lettuce, spinach, endive, chicory, or arugula (or a combination)
Tender strawberry or violet leaves
1 cup ground walnuts, chestnuts, or hazelnuts
Freshly ground black pepper
Few chives or scallions, chopped
Calendula petals
Fresh mint or parsley

1. In a large soup pot, stir together the corn, beans, and salt.

2. Add the optional turnips, carrots, squash, cabbage or other winter greens, and leeks or onions, and simmer until they are almost tender, about 10 minutes. (Add oil, if needed.)

3. When the above are nearing tenderness, add the leafy greens (lettuce, spinach, endive, chicory, or arugula), strawberry or violet leaves, ground nuts, and pepper, and simmer for a few minutes more.

4. Stir in the chives or scallions, calendula petals, and mint or parsley.

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