ImagePlants-a-palooza has come and gone and now it’s time to reflect on lessons learned. Please chime in with your comments here, on Facebook or via Twitter. (And, yes, I have an affiliate link in here. If you buy, I benefit. You don’t pay more, though.)

Lesson #1 – I don’t use herbs enough.

Talk about low-hanging fruit, I literally have parsley, chives and rosemary in my backyard all year long. Plus, in the summer, I grow basil, thyme and oregano. I use them in recipes all the time. But what I don’t do is toss a handful in to basic things I am cooking.

Case-in-point: Last week, I made a nightshade-free version of Danielle Walker’s fabulous Orange Sesame Chicken from Against All Grain. I reheated it for lunch the next day and, aiming to add some new plant to my leftover lunch, I went out and lopped off some parsley. It added a fun punch to my leftovers, and the whole effort took maybe two minutes.

So my biggest resolution coming off of Plants-a-palooza is to inject more herbs into my every day cooking.

Lesson #2 – My salads could be more.

Except for when we have our regular salad night, my lunch salads are pretty standard: lettuce (although I switch varieties a lot), avocado, olive oil + apple cider vinegar, grated zucchini and Applegate Farms Roast Beef. It’s not bad, but this is another area where I realized how simple it is to just toss in something extra. I always have carrots around the house, but this week I made it a point to buy different greens to toss in as well such as arugula and dandelion. The resulting salads were more interesting and I got a lot of nutritional bang for my buck.

Lesson #3 – Being mindful of what I eat matters.

I never wanted this to be a week where we judged ourselves harshly for not eating enough plants. Instead, I wanted to celebrate the diversity of plants we are fortunate enough to include in our diets. So I almost hesitated to share “lessons” at all.

But the thing is, I learned so much. And, in retrospect, I realized that most of the lessons didn’t come from the actual focus on plants, but, rather, on the fact that I was more mindfully pulling together my meals.

Funny enough, lunches left the most room for improvement. Well, guess what’s the one meal that I make for myself and myself only? Turns out, when I have the whole family’s health at stake, I put a lot more effort into planning what we’ll be eating than when it’s “just me.”

“Just me.” As if I don’t matter? It was kind of a kick-in-the-pants to see how low on the totem pole I put my own plant diversity. I kept a watchful eye on what the kids’ ate last week, too, and they consume at least 50% more diversity than I.

So while I never want to obsess, and I won’t start analyzing my meals, approaching my own food with a bit more self-care in mind seems to be in order.

What lessons did you take away from our weeklong celebration of plant diversity?

3 Responses to “What I Learned from Plants-a-palooza 2014”

  1. on 01 May 2014 at 8:50 amsandkpete

    It was very fun thinking about how I could add plants to my food. I eat so little fruit that I could throw in a fruit and it helped my numbers but it also made me realize what a rut I get into. As you know I tend to eat the same things daily til they are gone so kind of fun to add and change them… to keep thinking and not get lazy again. Thanks this was a fun drill

  2. on 02 May 2014 at 10:20 pmKatherine

    I learned that Michelle Tam’s recipes (nom nom paleo) are rich in plant diversity. My collection of Penzey’s spices helped me change flavors of the food I take with me when I’m on the road for work as well as add diversity. I learned that I do a pretty good job of planning for my family’s meals for the week but, like you, don’t do as well when it’s “just me.” I also learned that even though I do travel for work, I can push myself to get out of the rut of what I usually buy when I stop at a grocery store to buy veggies. Finally, I learned that oven roasted veggies are beyond delicious.

  3. on 02 May 2014 at 10:37 pmKristine Rudolph

    Wish I could LIKE this comment. 😉

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