Rachel and I have been conducting an experiment in health. We have greatly increased our consumption of vegetables and mostly eliminated grains, with the exception of the occasional beer.
This was a recent lunch:
Fresh local tuna, sauteed broccoli, garlic, onions and greens, plus lightly cooked fermented beets with carrots. All this food was grown or caught locally. The broccoli was grown organically by our pastor in his front-yard garden. Even the beer is locally brewed and has a slice of local lime in it.
Over the last couple of weeks I started working with my favorite gardening author on a book project, and something he wrote struck me as a good idea.
“Wait – WHAT? What favorite gardening author are you talking about, David???”
Ah, I have gotten ahead of myself. I am working with Steve Solomon on a new Florida gardening book that tailors his innovative and productive methods to the unique climate of the Sunshine state. This is a dream project for me as Steve has greatly influenced my thinking on growing vegetables and has continued to do so with each new book he publishes. Getting the chance to speak with him and collaborate is more than satisfying.
But – back to the point. Steve Solomon wrote the book The Intelligent Gardener which transformed my thinking on backyard gardening and nutrition. He writes in the as-of-yet unreleased book we are co-writing that he is a “vegetabletarian,” basing much of his nutrition on a base of vegetables, though it is not a vegetarian diet.
This vegetable rather than grain-based diet is tweaked for maximum nutrition by Dr. Terry Wahls*, author of The Wahls Protocol, which I have been reading off-and-on over the last couple of weeks.
I have been mostly Paleo for some years, but I admit: I haven’t tried to eat for maximum nutrition. I have eaten wild greens and berries, plus homegrown fruits and vegetables for years… but I’ve also eaten things just to fill me up. Bacon and eggs with cheese, for example. Sure, that gets me lots of nutrition in the eggs, but it doesn’t provide any good fiber or the many excellent enzymes and nutrients provided by a good serving of vegetables. It will keep you thin thanks to it being no-carb, but it won’t feed all your nutritional needs.
Dr. Wahls reversed the course of her rapidly progressing Multiple Sclerosis by greatly increasing the nutrition she received from vegetables, along with good fats and meat. She gave up vegetarianism but increased her vegetable consumption at the same time.
A dirty secret of vegetarianism is how many vegetarians aren’t really basing their diet on lots of vegetables. Instead, many rely on bread and other high-carb foods that are inflammatory and not nutrient dense, while missing important fats and proteins required for good health and muscle building.
The book recommends eating nine cups of vegetables and brightly colored fruits per day.
It’s further divided into sub-categories:
3 cups of cruciferous or sulfur-rich vegetables such as cabbage, kale, radishes, onions and garlic
3 cups of brightly colored fruits and/or vegetables such as blueberries, beets, carrots, cherries, etc.
3 cups of leafy greens such as spinach, dandelion and wild greens
Starchy vegetables like potatoes and fruits not colored all the way through, such as bananas and most apples (Steven does have some red-fleshed ones that are the exception), don’t count towards the day’s totals but may still be consumed. Grass-fed meats and wild-caught fish are also part of the diet, along with organ meats and bone broth.
Beer is not allowed but I don’t care. I will still drink one now and again.
The idea of the diet is to provide your cells with abundant nutrition and let them heal your body. Though I am generally healthy, I do have some neck pain now and again, plus allergies. The idea of eating a lot more nutrition via vegetable consumption and some organ meat appeals to me. I can grow vegetables and wild forage for greens, so it’s not a tough sell – plus most of the meat here is grass-fed or wild-caught.
I’ve been eating this way for a couple of weeks now and feel good. Over time, I think I’ll feel even better. I do need to plant some larger gardens, though – we are eating a ton of vegetables right now.
*Do not read this post as my endorsement of Dr. Wahls’ personal life. I believe marriage is a sacred God-ordained covenant between a man and a woman – period. That said, she has some very intriguing ideas and I believe her research is helping a lot of people.