Monday, March 7, 2016

Happy Gut Bacteria Challenge

The newest buzz in nutrition is to improve the balance of good and bad bacteria that hang out in your intestines.  Lots of people have written books about this, and even more are trying to make a buck or two selling products promoting this idea.

I decided to do a month long challenge  starting with foods that we already eat and are easily available at chain grocery stores in Boise.  I'll have to hit some specialty stores in order to accomplish all the goals.

The basic principles are:
1) Lots of variety of good microbes (the more sources the better)
2) High fiber, 38g per day.  Especially legumes
3) Small amounts of meat.  Grown without antibiotics.
4) Fermented foods (sauerkraut, kimchi, miso)
5) Eat foods that the good guys like to eat: resistant starch, legumes, onions, garlic, veggies

Additional challenges I see:
Time: To find a balance between cost and time, I will develop menus that involve 1 shopping/prep day, 2 evenings of 20 minute meals, and everything else pre-prepared and ready to eat or re-heat & eat.

Cost: I'll include my actual costs with each recipe.  I am initially using many convenience prepped foods but will note if there's an extra cost saving option.  For example, I bought "Carrot Chips" which are just pre-sliced carrots for $2 for 12 oz.  I could have paid the same amount for 2 pounds of carrots, but would have had time involved slicing them.

While I am an advocate of organic farming practices, I will focus the budget on "the dirty dozen" and give priority to locally grown over certified organic as in talking with local producers, I know many of them use organic practices but don't qualify for the certification process.
Buy Organic: fruits you eat whole (berries, grapes, peaches, apples), leafy greens, tomato, peppers
Don't bother: fruit you peal (banana,pineapple, avocado), cabbage family (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage...because even bugs don't like to eat them), anything grown underground, asparagus.

Also there are always exceptions.  Like today when I went to by the organic cherry tomatoes I bought last week at Winco, but they didn't have any this week. And the Organic rainbow baby carrots are the sweetest thing I have ever eaten so I will keep buying them even for more $.

Additional Challenges:
I hate yogurt and oatmeal.  Hubby hates fermented foods and would like to eat a weeks worth of meat in each meal.

Among the group going to do the challenge with us, there's a mix of options for lunches between having to pack a "sack lunch" and being able to reheat a meal.  And there is at least one person who insists he won't eat "leftovers", but eats frozen convenience food all the time (get over it!).

So here we go.  The 4 week Happy Gut Nutrition challenge.  I'll post menus and recipes in subsequent posts so sign up to get updates via blog readers or email.

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