Sticky Notes - Family Gut Biodiversity Game!
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Family Gut Biodiversity Game!

February 1, 2023 by Emily Moore

Eating 30 different plants! It’s a Gut Biodiversity Challenge!

We can't think of any vegetable jokes. LETTUCE know if you know any. 

The American Gut Project, one of the largest studies to date of the human microbiome, found that people who regularly eat 30+ different types of plant-based foods per week had more varied gut bacteria, and consequently, a healthier microbiome, than people who eat 10 or fewer. I wondered – is that a lot? Do I eat 30 different plant-based foods in a week? Do my kids? I wasn’t sure. So, I pulled out a pen and paper and enlisted my family’s help in tallying up the fruits and vegetables we’d eaten that week. 

As it turned out, we easily hit 30. But, keep in mind, my kids are teenagers. I think it might have been a different story when they were younger. When I recall their persistent attachment to hot dogs, quesadillas, and mac’n cheese, I’m not confident we would have hit that mark all the time. And that’s fine! Nobody needs to start stressing about eating 30 plant-based foods per week, ok?? Nevertheless, it can serve as a helpful guideline. And taking stock of your own family’s tendencies can be a valuable exercise.

Want to play?
Step One: Download 

Download this checklist, or for younger kids, download this fun game board! Print one of them and place it someplace everyone will see it (say, the fridge).  

Step Two: Review the rules
  • Plant-based foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, pulses, nuts and seeds, and herbs.
  • If you eat something more than once, that’s great! You only get to count it once, though. 
  • Raw and cooked foods count, but again, just once. (So, if you eat apple slices one day and applesauce the next, you’ll count “apples” one time.)
  • Frozen and dried produce count, too
Step Three: Plan! 

Pick a week and start tracking!

Tips to Get You Started
  • Salads, soups, and stir-fries are great options for loading up on different plants.
  • Try adding fresh herbs to salads and soups – you’ll get a pop of flavor and more points!
  • Mixed-bean soups mixes will boost your bean variety and add points, too.
  • Add frozen fruit to yogurt, smoothies, and oatmeal.
  • Sprinkle nuts, seeds, or coconut flakes on oatmeal or yogurt for added crunch! 
  • Swap out a processed snack for a piece of fruit, raw veggies & dip, or a handful of nuts. 
  • Remember to keep it fun! No comments, no pressure!
  • Add new foods along with current favorites to help ease the transition. 
  • Sneak pumpkin into homemade flapjacks!
  • Since you’ll likely be eating more fiber during the challenge, remember to drink more water, too!
Give it a try and see what you discover!
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