I recently read an interview recommending we eat 30 different plants a week, for optimum health including gut health and I laughed at loud. There is absolutely no way that can be done unless you’re virtually vegetarian and have access to lots of different types of fruit and veggies (which we don’t ‘cos we live in a tiny village in the back of beyond)
But I pulled myself together and read on to discover that according to the person being interviewed which was Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, the 30 different plants a week can include nuts and seeds, oats, beans, and pulses. No problem at all I thought, given we now eat a shit load of beans and pulses!
I wasn’t actually sure how many different plants we were eating so I wanted to take a typical week and see. Below are this week’s meals and I’ve tried to be more specific than usual and include exactly what goes into the meals and try and count the different plants!
- Breakfast – Overnight oats with banana, nectarine and cranberries
- Lunch – Leftover chilli and salad (The chilli contains onion, garlic, kidney beans, tomatoes, lentils, courgette, red pepper, green pepper and carrots) I know! It’s not an authentic chilli at all! The salad was lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes.
- Dinner –Spaghetti bolognese containing onion, garlic, red pepper, carrots and courgette and tomatoes.
- Dessert/snack – Yoghurt and fruit (kiwi and peaches)
- Plant count: 17
- Breakfast – Overnight oats with cranberries and hazelnuts (ate in the woods)
- Lunch – Cheese and tomatoes on toast
- Dinner – Leftover spaghetti bolognese with added black beans & salad (salad was the same as yesterday)
- Dessert /snack– Yoghurt and fruit (an orange)
- Plant count – 3
- Breakfast – Overnight oats with kiwi and almonds
- Lunch –Mixed salad (rice, chickpeas, red beans, tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, sweetcorn, mixed seeds) with bread and olive oil
- Dinner – Same as lunch time
- Dessert/snack – I made flapjack with dried cherries and raisins and there were some pistachios and cashew nuts
- Plant count – 5? I’m not sure if half a cashew each in the flapjack counts….
- Breakfast – Overnight oats and banana and cranberries
- Lunch – Last of the mixed salad
- Dinner – Herby roast chicken with salad (lettuce tomatoes and cucumber)
- Dessert/snack – Yoghurt and fruit (apple) and flapjack
- Plant count 1
- Breakfast – Overnight oats with banana (again, eaten in the woods)
- Lunch – Bread and tomatoes
- Dinner – Leftover chicken and salad
- Dessert/snack – Yoghurt and fruit and flapjack (I bought peaches today)
- Plant count – 1
- Breakfast – Overnight oats with banana, almonds and honey
- Lunch – Salad (lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas)
- Dinner – Stir-fried veggies with white beans (I know a bit weird) the stir fry was onion, carrots, red pepper, green beans, courgette
- Dessert/snack – Fruit and flapjack (orange, apple)
- Plant count – 2 (thanks to the beans!)
- Breakfast – Overnight oats with kiwi (for Mac) toast for me
- Lunch – Bread and tomatoes
- Dinner – Sliced pork with (poor man’s potatoes) potatoes, onions, and green peppers sautéed in garlic and olive oil.
- Dessert/snack – Yoghurt (shop-bought) and apple
- Plant count – 0?
Did we eat 30 different plants?
I think we come in at roughly 28 different plants? I don’t think that’s too bad and it’s actually quite tricky to keep count of all the different plants we eat. I think it helps that I’m not too bothered about following recipes to the letter and like to add as many different veggies to my chilli and bolognese sauces and often add spinach to stuff if I have it. It’s not too difficult now to bulk things up with extra beans or lentils but in our case, it does mean that while there are different plants, we still eat the same meals more or less. I think if I had access to a bigger range then there would be even more variety.
Also, I see that we had bananas with our oats four times this week. I can easily swap that for plums, cherries, or whatever else is available a couple of times. If you live somewhere more civilised than I then you might even get strawberries or raspberries, how exciting!
I can also sneak in a leek, or do something with broccoli and peas maybe. Lunches are still a bit of a struggle, and there’s room for different veggies there. But I have to say that while I panicked when I first saw the big, scary number it is not that hard at all and I actually feel pretty good about what we’ve eaten this week.
What else…? Oh yes. We spent two glorious mornings in the woods this week walking, eating breakfast, collecting wood and chilling out. I also made yoghurt on Thursday and it was a total fail. It started to separate and I tried to save it but had to throw it all away, oh well better luck next time.
The weekly shop came in at €125.74 so still more than I want and I even resisted the nut lady this week at the market. I did buy coffee and peanut butter and extra milk which I don’t buy every week, but still….
Today, both Mac and I had dental work done involving needles and drills so for the next few days we will be eating soft things like gazpacho and dhal and humus, oh well.
What do you think? Do you eat 30 different plants a week? Could you do it? Any tips on how I can do it better?