That's right - you read right, meat and three veg meals are bad for you. With over 60% of Aussies opting for a meat and three veg meal every night, one would think that people watch Masterchef just for entertainment rather than inspiration? The number one reason most of us eat meat and three veg? The perception that it is the quickest and easiest meal to make.
Take some time right now and count how many different ingredients you eat every week - is it 20, 30 or more? Be honest, breakdown your breakfast, your lunch and your dinner. I've had clients who only just made it past 20! What do your meal options look like week to week? Are you on the meal routine ferris wheel?
Meat & Three Veg
Picture the dinner to the right, it could be your dinner tonight, Sunday night's are usually the "simple meal" nights right?
Courtesy of the Healthy Food Guide, here is the ingredient mix for this meat and three veg meal:
- Balsamic vinegar,
- wholegrain mustard,
- pork loin steaks,
- green onions,
- green beans.
That is three veges, one meat serve and some basic seasoning, 8 ingredients if counting.
Here is the breakdown of the macro nutrients in the meal to the right, a pretty standard breakdown. Unfortunately we did not have the data on the micro nutrients in the meal.
18 Ingredient Meal
I dug up a recipe for a Spiced Moroccan Soup from Epicurious, which contains 18 ingredients:
- Olive oil,
- red chile flakes,
- vegetable stock,
- black pepper,
- egg and
I put together a nutrition fact sheet for this meal, it compared pretty close to the kilojoule, fats, iron, and calcium. It rated lower in protein, and higher in sodium levels. But overall a similar result. The prep time, pretty similar, the cost, pretty similar. The difference? More than twice the ingredients, and accessing a wider range of macro and micro nutrient sources.
So Why The Fuss?
You might be surprised as to why I say that meat and three veg is bad for you, and it's not an indictment on meat or paleo or vegetables - it is simply this, without a variety of foods in our diet, we are also lacking a variety of sources for our macro and micro nutrients. If you were to eat just bananas for your food, do you think you would have a balanced nutritional intake?
To ensure we get as much of the necessary macro AND micro nutrients in our body, it is super important to have huge variety in our diets. Eating a diversity of foods ensures we get different types of fibre, healthy fats, protein and the incredibly unique micro nutrients that are sometimes only found in certain foods.
Here's my analogy, imagine your diet is an ecosystem. From one extreme, let's say you rely on one food to "survive", this is your monoculture diet, your diet is a veritable field of wheat, relient on artificial nutrients and toxic pesticides to keep yourself alive (well, for now anyway). To the other, a diet with 10's of different foods being eaten, a veritable biodiverse rainforest diet, with innumerable different plants and animals, in balance and supporting itself when there is disease or disaster. Where is your diet on that scale? Is it diverse, supportive and rich in flavour and colour, or verging on monoculture with the ills that come with it? Be honest now. Open your fridge and count your fresh food diversity.
How Do I Diversify My Diet?
What does this look like? Well, simple. Eat more variety! Practically?
If you are on the "set menu" meal planning, add in another ingredient to your meals each week, in that stir fry add some tatsoi or pak choy, or make a meat and 5 veg meal! Grate some zuchinni into your spag bog, make a monkey plate for your kids with 10 different food options! Make a challenge each week to add 5 extra different foods into your world, not only will it bring flavour and colour to your meals, it will also bring the wonderful biodiversity of health to your body via accessing different sources of nutrients.
Make it easy on yourself, make one pot wonders with 10 different vegetables and lots of beautiful spices! Rather than just having rice with your dish, add some millet to it, or event better, blend multiple rices together! When you shop at the markets this week, see if you can grab some new and different fruits or vegetables to add to your meals, if in doubt, an internet search will have you on the right recipe.
If you are stuck for inspiration, you could always join me via Cook With Me LIVE too, each week I will show you how to get some delicious diversity into your world.