Updated: Dec 13, 2020
I went to my local farmers market this morning, the Saturday before Thanksgiving, and couldn’t resist the urge to buy more vegetables even though my refrigerator still has veggies from last week that I need to cut and chop! I love going to the market, which is conveniently located just outside my house. The market is open every Saturday most of the year. Since the pandemic started, they have been much busier than in the past! When arrive early, there is so much produce to admire; I cannot resist buying more.
My husband and I are empty nesters and since Covid arrived, he has been working full-time at home and I am going into the office daily. So, the task of our weekly grocery store shopping has somehow switched to him. Being a dietitian, I love strolling through the grocery store slowly and looking at new items and purchasing new products to try. I used to arrive home from a grocery store trip, and he would ask, “You must have gone somewhere else, you could not have been in the grocery store all that time!” While I do miss this experience, not enough to do an extra trip if we don’t need anything.
Going to the farmers market, though, is a different story. Since I no longer rush out the door to swim meets or some other event for my kids, my Saturday mornings are a little less stressful. l love to walk over and look at all the wonderful plant foods available. Most Americans do not consume enough plants overall and we know that they are so good for our health. Plants provide phytonutrients (Phyto – from the sun; nutrients – compounds that help plants grow and protect them from bugs eating them) that help our body fight diseases. There are thousands of nutrients including lycopene, flavonoids and anthocyanins, but eating a variety of plants and colors will help you get them.
Plants also have fiber that support and help the good bacteria grow in our large intestine which is now referred to as our gut microbiome. Tons of interesting research is coming out daily about the importance of the microbiome. Our microbiome is 3-5 pounds and houses trillions of bacteria. Consuming Microbiota Accessible Plants (MACs), the term now used for plant foods that help good bacteria thrive, are important for keeping our microbiome healthy. MACs include fruits, vegetables, beans/pulses and whole grains. MACs can be something to think about when planning your meals for the week! The best thing we can do to help support those good bacteria down there is to increase our plant intake. Ask yourself, “How can I add a fruit or vegetable to each eating occasion throughout my day?” Start paying attention to what you are putting in your mouth at breakfast, lunch and dinner. If your body is not used to a lot of plant foods, start small and gradually build up tolerance. If you would like to learn more about MAC’s, consider reading The Good Gut by Justin & Erica Sonnenburg.
That brings me to Thanksgiving. We come together to share a meal with family and friends, enjoying the plentiful fruits and veggies through the fall harvest. Try to savor these foods without too much added sugar (consider skipping the marshmallows) and enjoy the natural flavors. In years past, I have been the family member who brought the most vegetables to the family feast. My favorites are sweet potatoes, arugula salad and homemade cranberry sauce. I will not do a large extended family gathering this year, but I do hope to make smaller versions of my Thanksgiving favorites. My sister is the pie queen so I will definitely miss her treats!
Yes, Thanksgiving will be different this year but try to keep plant foods in mind even after the holiday. Here are some recipes you may like to try.