In his book How Not to Die, Dr Michael Greger MD recommends whole plant foods that give a good variety of nutrients for a daily balance for optimum health, but some plants are healthier than others. For example, you can apparently live extended periods eating practically nothing but white potatoes. That would by definition be a whole-food, plant based diet, but not a very healthy one.
Since not all plant foods are created equal, and some foods have special nutrients not found in abundance elsewhere, Dr Greger built a checklist of foods that he tries to fit into his daily routine.
Beans - A wide range of foods come under this category. These legumes include split peas, chickpeas and lentils. We should all try to get three servings a day: a quarter a cup of hummus or bean dip; half a cup of cooked beans, split peas, lentils, tofu, or tempeh; or a full cup of fresh peas or sprouted lentils.
Berries - A serving of berries is half a cup fresh or frozen, or quarter a cup of dried. This includes any small edible fruit, including grapes, raisins, blackberries, cherries, mulberries, raspberries and strawberries.
Other Fruits - For other fruits, a serving is a medium sized fruit, a cup of cut up fruit, or a quarter cup of dried fruit.
Cruciferous Vegetables - Common cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cabbage, spinach and kale. Recommend at least one serving a day (typically half a cup).
Greens - At least two additional servings of greens a day, cruciferous or otherwise are recommended.
Other Vegetables - Serving sizes for other greens and vegetables are a cup of raw leafy vegetables, half cup for other raw or cooked non-leafy vegetables, and quarter a cup for dried mushrooms. Green beans, snap peas and tomatoes are included.
Flaxseed (linseed) - Every one should try to incorporate one tablespoon of ground flaxseed into their daily diet, in addition to a serving of nuts or other seeds.
Nuts and seeds - A quarter a cup of nuts is considered a serving, or two tablespoons of nut or seed butters, including peanut butter. (Chestnuts and coconuts don't nutritionally count as nuts).
Herbs - Quarter teaspoon a day of tumeric, along with any other (salt-free) herbs you may enjoy.
Whole Grains - Three servings a day is recommended. Use cooked whole grains or 'pseudograins' like amaranth, buckwheat and quinoa. A serving can be half a cup of oatmeal, cooked pasta or corn kernels. Three cups of popcorn, a slice of bread or muffin.
Beverages - Recommended five glasses a day in addition to the water you get naturally from the foods in your diet.
Exercise - One daily 'serving' of exercise, which can be split up over the day. Ninety minutes of moderate-intensity activity each day, such as brisk walking or, forty minutes of vigorous activity such as jogging or active sports, each day.
Dr Greger made a checklist and had it up on the fridge. His family made a game out of ticking off the boxes.
This may all sound like a lot to tick off, but it's easy to incorporate a number at one time. One simple peanut butter banana sandwich and you just ticked off four. Sit down to a big salad. Two cups of spinach, a handful of rocket, a handful of walnuts, half a cup of chickpeas, half a cup of capsicum, and a small tomato. You just knocked out seven in one dish.
The checklist can help you with grocery shopping by helping you figure out how much fresh produce you need. It can also help you picture what a meal might look like.
But Dr Greger says there is no need to be obsessive about the Daily Dozen. On hectic days when the ideal daily diet is off the scale, you may only hit a quarter of your goals. If you do poorly one day, just try to eat better the next. The checklist is just to encourage you to get some of the healthiest foods every day.
— Nutritionfacts.org, September 11 2017
Click to download a printable version of Dr Gregor’s checklist.
Recipe of the Month
Whole Grain Waffles
½ c Amaranth
½ c Quinoa
½ c Brown Rice
1 c Rolled Oats
1 t Salt
1 t Baking powder (optional)
1 Banana mashed
1 t Vanilla
1 T natVia Stevia powder
2 c Almond milk
½ c Water
Mix grains and grind to a fine flour (if using ready-milled flour, ½ c grain = ¾ c flour). Add salt and raising powder, mix well. Add all the rest of the ingredients and whisk into a smooth pancake-like batter. Add more water if needed. Spoon into a preheated waffle iron and cook for 7-8 minutes. Best eaten freshly made. Can be refrigerated or frozen, just place in a hot oven for 5 minutes to freshen up. Top with 4x2 Berry Spread.
Recipe of the Month
4x2 Berry Spread
2 c Berries
2 T Chia Seeds
2 T natVia Stevia powder
2 drops Vanilla
Slowly heat berries over a medium heat. Once simmering and berries breaking down take off the heat and mash with a potato masher. Add remaining ingredients, stir well and leave to cool for at least 3 hours.