It’s A Wrap – 30 New Foods Down!

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In the fall of 2013 I read Gulp by Mary Roach. If you are unfamiliar with Mary Roach, she writes books about science which are interesting, fun, and quite easy to read. I recommend her books if you want random facts to share around the water cooler. Anyway, in GulpRoach cites a study by the Washington Center for Obesity Research that found most Americans eat no more than 30 foods on a regular basis AND that most cycle through their go-to foods in a matter of four days. Four days, people! When I heard that statistic I immediately thought, “I’m so glad that I am not one of those people who can’t explore new foods.” Then I started thinking about how my breakfasts and lunches are pretty consistent most days of the week and consist of eggs, buckwheat pancakes, bananas, berries, cheese, kale, apples, almonds, carrots, and tortilla chips and I realized that I AM ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE!

After reading Gulp, I was bound and determined to try 30 new foods in 2014. I am not a picky eater (contrary to what my dad thinks), I love trying new foods, and I rarely make the same meal twice in the same month so I thought this would be a cinch. As it turns out, it was doable, but also a little big tougher than I thought. It’s easy to try new foods when eating out but I love cooking and try to eat in as much as possible. It’s in the kitchen where I tend to fall back into my comfort zone cooking-wise. Even if I’m not making the same kale fried rice or quinoa bake, I’m still using a lot of the same ingredients, aka my 30 go-to foods, just in different ways.

When I embarked on this challenge, one of my rules, so to speak, was that if I’d eaten the food at a restaurant or at someone else’s home in the past but never purchased or cooked on my own, I could include it in the challenge. A big part of this intention was learning how to use and cook different foods. In many cases, these were foods I’d overlooked at the store or market for years because I didn’t know what to do with them or how to eat them. It’s so easy to walk by something that you are unsure of and grab what is familiar. Remember, sometimes a comfort zone can become a danger zone! We grow and change when we push ourselves to do things, eat things, and try things that are unknown and sometimes a bit scary, right?

Here are my 30 new foods from 2014. I’ve bolded the ones I have eaten more than once and included a yea, meh, or nay indicating how much I enjoyed the food.

Kimchi – Yea
Leeks – Yea
Fennel – Yea
Papaya – Yea
Melorange – Nay
Bulgar – Yea
Jicama – Meh
Yucca – Meh
Lotus Root – Meh
Bok Choy – Meh
Roasted Cactus – Meh
Garlic Scapes – Yea
Lorocco – Yea
Turmeric – Yea
Daikon – Yea
Swiss Chard – Meh
Gooseberries – Yea
Black Currant – Nay
Pan Patty Squash – Meh
Bubble Tea – Yea
Lavender – Yea
Aronia Berry – Yea
Parsnip – Yea
Napa Cabbage – Yea
Grits – Meh
Figs – Yea
Buttercup Squash – Yea
Ambercup Squash – Meh
Ataulfo Mango – Yea
Mustard Greens – Meh

As I look back on that list a few things come to mind. First, most of my new foods are in the form of plants! I definitely expanded my palate when it comes to new fruits and vegetables. The second thing I noticed is that I enjoyed most of the new foods I tried. The third thing I noticed (well this is probably the first thing I noticed but I’m trying to be kind to myself) is that of the 30 new foods I tried, I’ve only had four of them more than once! This is proof we fall back into our old habits, aka comfort zone.

I believe a big reason why I tried most of these foods just once was because I was so consumed by finding and trying new foods that I didn’t have a lot of time to explore beyond my go-to foods. I also believe that it might take some tweaking of recipes to find the best way to try some of these foods again, especially the ones I gave a “meh” rating. Overall though, no matter our intentions and how much we enjoy new foods, it can be tough to get out of routine.

I’m happy with this challenge and I encourage you to try new foods! The next time you’re at the market or the store and see something unfamiliar, check it out. While I’m no longer documenting my new foods, I continue to try new things. Next up – carob chips! I’ve always wanted to try these and found some at the indoor farmers’ market last weekend. Like my Facebook page to keep up with the random assortment of new foods I try moving forward!