Get ready for Plants-a-palooza 2014!
One of my personal goals is to increase the DIVERSITY of the plant material that I eat. Now, I am not necessarily talking about increasing the actual amount of plant material, although that may be a byproduct, but instead, working towards consuming more different kinds of plants on a regular basis.
Why does diversity matter? Well, on a basic level, the more different kinds of plants that you eat, the greater variety of micronutrients you will provide your body. Beyond that, if you vary up your plant material, you help minimize any ill-effects that anti-nutrients in plants may be causing you. (For more great reasons to diversify your plant intake, read what Terry Wahls, M.D. has to say here at 32:36.)
Beyond that, there is evidence that eating plants can alter your gut microbiome and amp up your levels of firmicutes which were evidently much higher in hunter-gatherer populations than they are in modern-day. (For more on why that matters, see Sarah Ballantyne’s (The Paleo Mom) terrific explanation starting at minute 57:09 here.)
On a more foodie level, trying different plants can also help introduce your palate to things you might not have tried. It can help ease you out of a food rut. And, with the advent of spring, it can encourage you to seek out seasonal, fresh produce after a long (and this year, very hard) winter.
So here’s how it’s going to work:
- We’ll start next Monday, April 21st. That gives you ample time to plan menus, shop, or hit the farmers’ market over the weekend.
- I’ll post a Plants-a-palooza post reminding you of the “party” on Monday, and then Tuesday, I’ll post our first “shout out” post, where everyone can share the plants they’ve eaten.
- We’ll keep a running total, so a shout out would look like this: “Today I ate lacinato kale, butter leaf lettuce, plantains, sweet potato, cilantro, turmeric, cinnamon, apple, orange, chamomile and zucchini. Today’s plant count is 11 and my running total is 11.”
- If, on the next day, I ate kale again, then I would exclude that from my running total. Remember, we’re going for as many different plants as we can get in a weeklong period. So, don’t count them twice. But, if you eat different varieties of the same plant, then absolutely count them separately. So iceberg lettuce, Romaine and butter leaf would count as three different plants.
- What counts? Well, there are no rules per se … this is a party! But, I am not encouraging you to eat processed forms of plants. So, corn chips? I’m not interested. Those veggie chips with eight different veggies in them? Also not something I am interested in hearing about. I want to hear about your whole, unprocessed, plant delights.
- I don’t think anyone needs encouragement to eat more grains these days, so why don’t we exclude them? I know they’re plants and all, but they fall outside of my goals so let’s focus on other plants this week.
- Just keep a small pad or a note on your smartphone to keep up with everything. Sometimes it’s easy to forget what you’ve eaten in a day.
- Don’t forget about nuts, seeds, teas, herbs and other spices that you might enjoy!
- We’ll go for a full week, which will make our last “shout out” and final tally Tuesday, April 29th.
If this sounds like fun to you but you are fearful at the idea of cooking new veggies, don’t forget about the valuable resource our friends at Chowstalker provide. You can find a tremendous number of veggie recipes there. Also, if you want a reason to justify buying a new cookbook, Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything Vegetarian was my salvation when I started subbing to a CSA. It’s arranged by veggie, so say you fetch some kohlrabi at the market and haven’t a clue what to do with it. You just open up to kohlrabi in the book and you’ve got all the info you need. (I don’t love Bittman’s advice on cooking fats, but that’s easy enough to amend when I cook. I just sub in my solid fats for his seed-based ones.)
One last word: This is supposed to be a FUN exploration of the plant world! Don’t stress. Don’t feel like you don’t “measure up.” Don’t judge yourself. Just observe, take advantage of the springtime bounty, and explore the plant kingdom!
OK, who’s in?
(Many thanks to my friend Karen Chason for the delightful logo she made for Plants-a-palooza!)
If you’ve found us through Nourishing Joy’s Thank Goodness It’s Monday #67, welcome! If you haven’t checked out that fab list of posts, go visit it here.