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.
Thank you for the helpful information. I will certainly try to add some more vegetables to our diet. We are in a rut of having oatmeal every morning but I do add blueberries and walnuts and pecans to it. This leads me to the question of nuts and seeds. It seems to me that these should fit into a healthy diet. Thanks again and the best to you and your family and thanks for the blessings you give us by the helpful info.
Oatmeal eats my energy so I quit eating it and switched to eggs and greens for breakfast, sometimes with bacon or even fish. Nuts and seeds are generally quite good. They’re mostly not easy to get where I am now, though.
oh… blueberries,walnuts, and pecans to it. better I think.
quick thought… beautiful picture of the food … this makes me think of how wonderful to have a book with the recipes… and a book on pregnancy advice would be keen too… not that you don’t already have enough to do … right?
Ha! Yeah, my wife could write that book. She’s good at being pregnant. Heck, she’s pregnant right now.
You might like to watch The Fruit Doctor interview with Rachel on Yoga for Scoliosis for the neck pain. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrclijtNqpA
Everyone is an expert on diet, but you may find some of Michele’s other videos on diet and health interesting too.
Thank you, Craig.
Being stuck with an apt. and a container garden, at least I can put my containers in the courtyard, and nobody’s messed with them, thus far. In them, I’ve managed, bok choy, beets, green beans, carrots, onions, eggplant, yams (yes D. alata), and tomatoes growing slowly. Will work in sweet potatoes next go round, as a sw. pot w/2 eggs is my usual breakfast. Won’t be able to grow enough in containers to be self-sufficient, but it helps. Pretty nutritious food; could be better, but, I’m happy with it.
Hey – I would love to see pictures of those plants growing in containers. Any chance you could share some I can post? Sweet potatoes and eggs sounds like a great way to start the day, also.
At the beginning of April last year, I decided it was time to change. I was 265lbs, and on a 6’2″ frame I was obese, lethargic, and came down with a nasty flu. I Blamed my bad health and aches and pains on my obesity, only to find out that is only part of the problem. There have been quite a few studies done on inflammation and the effect it has on the body, insulin being a major player. Cutting out sugar is not enough, as the liver and pancreas see no difference between sugars and starches, in other words whether you eat a potato, wheat or straight sugar, your liver will release the same enzymes, and you pancreas will release insulin. I changed to a high fat, very low carb diet. In fact, for 30 days the only carbs I took in were from cruciferous veg. I slowly added apples, pears and berries back in (berries first, then the rest). Anyways (sorry I’m long winded and preachy) I am around 192lbs, I feel much better and no aches and no pains. I now have incorporated some starches, like sweet potato, boiled never baked. I still limit carbs, and wish everyone could have the success I have found, once again many thanks Dave, I enjoy everything you put out.
You are doing great, Danny – thank you for the story.
And you’re very right on the starches. I skip almost all of them. Heck, I only eat starchy roots maybe once a week now.
It’s good to talk about the importance of food nutrition. My parents and grandparents were taught, the aches and pains were attributed to age. I have found that eating the diet you endorse, a lot of my pain disappeared. And the twitching! My feet could finally stay still. Sleep became enjoyable again. No wonder pill. Just good food.
Very good point. It’s not always age and these things aren’t always irreversible. Modern medicine can be good at treating the symptoms but I believe beneath the surface there are often just poor food choices, whether knowingly or not.
I love Steve Solomon’s books. I think I have most of them. I no longer live in Florida but the Northeast, which complicates matters, but it isn’t impossible. Nice to see this; I will come back. Thanks! J
Steve is the best. There are some great soils in the Northeast if you’re lucky enough to be in the right place.