By Toni Salter
The Asian diet is reputed to be one of the healthiest in the world and is primarily plant-based and rich in soyfoods with only a small amount of fish. This wholesome traditional diet is thought to be why many Asian countries avoid the metabolic diseases that are so prevalent in Western societies. 
So it is, that we may learn from our Asian friends how to reduce our risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes by adopting their eating patterns. Some naturopaths and nutritionists recommend eating Asian inspired stir-fry because of the number of vitamins and minerals we can obtain from them.
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If you look at the typical stir-fry you will see a variety of different vegetables, such as root vegetables, fruiting and leafy vegetables. Unlike the bland Western diet of "meat and three vegetables (oftentimes starchy potatoes), a stir fry can easily contain at least half a dozen or more vegetables, herbs and spices. Interestingly, this mix of vegetation also forms the basis of crop rotation in our vegetable garden.
Different plants will "consume" different elements from the soil while they are growing, so crops are rotated in order to avoid depleting the soil of nutrients over time. The rotation is based on grouping the plants together that require different nutritional elements.
For example, we group together all fruiting plants because they consume larger amounts of potassium, leafy vegetables are grouped together because they need more nitrogen and root crops are grouped for their uptake of phosphorus.
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Legumes are grouped together because they can actually supply nitrogen for the next crop grown in the same area. Of course, all plants will take up a full range of elements in addition to these in varying amounts, but these are the primary or macronutrient needs of these particular groups.
Why not have a go at growing your own stir fry garden this year using the groupings listed. Here's how it might look:
- Fruiting plants: peppers/capsicum, chilies, baby corn
- Legumes: beans (bush or climbing), snow peas, sugar snap peas
- Leaf crops: broccoli, wong bok/Chinese cabbage, pak choy
- Root crops: garlic, carrots, onions, daikon (white radish)
Toni Salter, 'The Veggie Lady', is an Australian registered horticulturist living in Sydney. Follow Toni on Twitter and 'Like' her on Facebook
 Sarah O'Brien, MS, RD. UCSF for the National Cancer Institute in USA, 2002. http://www.ucsf.edu/news/2006/10/7114/cancer-preventing-benefits-traditional-asian-diet
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