Flourish with Food introduced the MIND approach in June, noting its components complement the Mediterranean dietary pattern. MIND-emphasized foods have been associated with slowing the cognitive changes people often experience as they get older.  https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/improve-brain-health-with-the-mind-diet/art-20454746

This month’s focus is all other vegetables.  The MIND approach singles out leafy greens, as featured last month. However, all other vegetables is an essential MIND food group itself. This emphasis on ALL vegetables complements the foundational importance of vegetables in the Mediterranean Diet.

Healthy dietary patterns include a variety of vegetables from all five vegetable subgroups—dark green; red and orange; beans, peas, and lentils; starchy; and other. These include all fresh, frozen, canned, and dried options in cooked or raw forms, including 100% vegetable juices. Vegetables in their nutrient-dense forms have limited additions such as salt, butter, or creamy sauces.” (www.dietaryguidelines.gov). 

Most people already know that vegetables support good health and wellbeing. Despite public health and industry’s ongoing nudging efforts to bump up intake, average adult vegetable intake has essentially remained stable for years at about 1.5 cups daily.  The 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 2-4 cups daily for adults. However, knowledge is not enough to affect behavior change.

So, what are the challenges or barriers to eating more vegetables?  The internal or personal barriers include habits and preferences related to taste and texture. External or environmental barriers include limited access to grocery stores, availability limitations and cost.

Interestingly, some people have a “taste gene” that makes compounds in certain vegetable not taste good.  Think broccoli, cabbage and Brussel sprouts, especially.  Since taste bud sensitivity lessens with age, certain vegetables can become more acceptable over time. As a child I smothered asparagus with salt to get my 2 spears down.  Today, I enjoy.

Let’s focus on habit.  Reflect on your habitual meal and snacking habits. Where do you see patterns in choices? Where is there a possibility to experiment with a new idea? Developing a habit takes time and concerted effort before it’s “adopted” to become a habit.

If you’re ready to explore ways to increase your veggie intake, here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Include a veggie in 2 meals each day
  • Have a larger portion of favorites
  • Plan for leftovers or “plan-overs” for the next day
  • Substitute crunchy veggies for chips as a sandwich side 
  • Prepare one new or seldom eaten veggie once a month
  • Cook a new way (roast instead of steam)  
  • Prepare a new recipe once or twice a month
  • Go for vegetable-rich soups

Fresh Corn, Avocado and Tomato Salad

A Family Summer Favorite

Add to large bowl:

  • 2 c. fresh corn, cut off the cob 
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in ½ 

Cover with vinaigrette dressing:

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. lime juice
  • ½ tsp. lime zest
  • ¼ c. chopped cilantro

Did you know?  Raw corn is yummy and risk-free.  Be sure to rinse the cob before removing the kernels.  https://www.aforkstale.com/how-to-cut-corn-off-the-cob

About Mary Lynne Hixson, MA, RD:

Mary Lynne, a registered dietitian, helps others enhance their health through the advocacy of nutrient-rich food choices and safe food-handling practices. Her expertise also includes counseling patients who have Type 2 diabetes and advising those who are in medically managed weight loss programs. After her 35+ year career, she retired and became involved with the launch of Harvest of Hope Pantry in 2012 as a Board of Directors member. Mary Lynne is a weekly volunteer with Cultivate’s Carry-Out Caravan program, shopping and delivering groceries to seniors in the Boulder area, and also a frequent volunteer with Harvest of Hope.