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article imageOp-Ed: 'Veggie Queen' urges people to live healthy as well as long Special

By Jonathan Farrell     Feb 17, 2017 in Health
Sonoma - The importance of eating healthy is more than just a passion for 'Veggie Queen' Jill Nussinow, it is her life's work. Getting the word out is more about getting vegetables in peoples' mouths to taste them and to experience that they are good.
This past week just in time for Valentine's Day, Nussinow made a presentation at the Sonoma Valley Library, entitled "Winter Vegetables: Beyond Broccoli. While the one-day class style of a presentation got filled up quickly, Nussinow who is both a nutritionist chef and a licensed dietitian was prepared for a larger crowd. "I wished that more people had showed up," she said. But due to limited space capacity at the library she was pleased with the dozen or more there that were interested.
As reported by The Bohemian of the North Bay, Nussinow's cooking presentation/demonstration on Feb 15 is part of a "Healthy Living at your local library" program that got its start this month and will continue until May. All 12 locations of the Sonoma County Public Library will have a class or program to promote this 'Health Literacy' series as The Bohemian referred to it. The fact that the Sonoma County Library is helping to raise awareness of good health is more than just a fad or trend.
Currently there are over seven million people in the United States that live a vegetarian lifestyle - this 2008 statistic was reported by Vegetarian Times. And, it mentioned that most of the people who eat a vegetarian diet do so for health reasons. As the Baby boom generation enter further along into retirement and health care costs continue to soar, no doubt diet will be a focus to well being.
Still, apart from aging, a good diet is something the present Millennial generation, now in their 30s will want to incorporate into their routines. They are now the breadwinners and parents of today's households. No doubt they are also recognizing the importance of a healthy diet, since obesity and diabetes among children is on the rise. Because as Nussinow said just before her presentation that Wednesday afternoon started, "what good is living a long life if it is not a healthy life!" For more than 30 years, Nussinow has been teaching and promoting a vegetarian diet. She specializes in pressure cooking or on the stove top. It is perhaps the simplest way to prepare vegetables at home.
Vegetarian food expert Jill Nussinow made a cooking presentation for the Sonoma County Library in So...
Vegetarian food expert Jill Nussinow made a cooking presentation for the Sonoma County Library in Sonoma on Wednesday, Feb. 15.
After her presentation at the library this reporter, on assignment for The Sonoma Valley Sun, asked Nussinow some questions. (The Sun published two of her recipes in its feature article for the February issue)
Thinking back to my childhood, there were few vegetables that I liked. So, I imagine that today in our meat-eating and frozen dinner culture, fresh produce still takes a back seat. I asked: do people have a resistance to vegetables or are they just unaware of them? "People are Generally unaware, (of vegetables)" she said.
With winter in full swing I was curious which vegetables are in season. "Most people just don't know which vegetables are in season and they also choose to eat the ones with which they are familiar with," she said, "not venturing into the unknown. People find vegetables scary because they don't know how they will taste."
Leading into my next question, I asked, since people are so accustomed to eating processed food, what sort of reaction/response do you get when you talk about vegetables? Is there a vegetable that people seem most resistant to or acceptable of? For example, lots of people don't like brussels sprouts. Some don't like broccoli. Yet most people like corn and or tomatoes. (I know tomatoes are a fruit, but it is a main salad ingredient.)
"Many people do eat vegetables but not in a big enough quantity for health," said Nussinow. "They do not eat them often enough and generally do not have enough variety." She emphasized the importance of variety. That too helps not only in better nutrition but also in expanding one's taste palate.
"I have been cooking Brussels sprouts (for years) and people have liked them a lot. Some vegetables have a bad reputation, Brussels sprouts being one of them, along with lima beans," she said.
In terms of digestive aspects she noted, "There are also people who are sensitive to the sulfurous compounds in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables so they don't like them. Some people find that beets taste like dirt so they avoid them. there are the cilantro haters, too," Nussinow said.
Again pointing out that it is all matter of taste and what one is accustomed to; this reporter found it interesting to note that the legendary cook Julia Child was not a fan of Arugula. Nor a fan of cilantro as she told talk show host Larry King on CNN back in 2002. Child was quoted saying that if she saw it, she would "throw it on the floor!"
I then asked, Is it good to have a balance of raw and then cooked vegetables? Which vegetables are best raw and which are best cooked or steamed?
"I think that we need raw vegetables daily, as well as cooked vegetables," said Nussinow. "Tomatoes have more nutrients when they are cooked." That's good news for Italian food fans!
I mentioned to her, since we are a nation and culture of mostly meat-eaters, what obstacles do you usually meet up with when you demonstrate to people that vegetables are not only essentially good for one's health but can be delicious?
"I have done cooking demonstrations in Kansas and they have been well accepted. Most people are willing to taste and then they change their minds or at least seem to," said Nussinow.
With the growing popularity of Indian and Thai food, I asked. Does adding spices, sauces or sauté mixtures help in making vegetables more appealing/appetizing to a processed-food and meat-eater audience?
"Yes it does help," she said. "I use minimal salt but add herbs and spices, condiments and more to make vegetables taste good. And cooking them well helps a lot - not undercooked or overcooked," she noted.
You mentioned that you are a dietitian as well as a nutritionist. As people age, what vegetables are the most beneficial for health? And as you had said before the presentation at the library, eating healthy is important if a person is going to live a long life. "There are not specific vegetables for health although I mentioned some in my book 'Nutrition CHAMPS' - (it) covers the healthiest foods: cruciferous vegetables, herbs and spices, alliums, mushrooms, peas beans and lentils and seeds and nuts. The cruciferous vegetables, she pointed out, include broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collard greens and many more. They should be eaten daily."
And you had said something that in terms of vegetables this time of year is special because? "We (especially here in California) get a lot of cruciferous vegetables where other places in the country get few. But what I brought in on Wednesday for the presentation was green garlic which is an allium and only around for a month or so."
 Cooking Under Pressure  is chef and nutritionist Jill Nussinow s latest book.
"Cooking Under Pressure" is chef and nutritionist Jill Nussinow's latest book.
Courtesy of Jill Nussinow
In addition to teaching at Santa Rosa Junior College, Nussinow is the author of over 10 books. She lectures throughout the country and is a leading authority and consultant on diet and vegetarian foods. She maintains a very busy schedule as she exclaimed upon concluding the presentation,
"I leave to go wow the Texans with my vegetables this weekend." She will be attending the Mother Earth News Fair beginning on Feb. 19 in Belton, Texas. For more information about Jill Nussinow, MS, RDN - 'The Veggie Queen: vegetarian, vegan and pressure cooking expert,' visit her web site. And, visit her social media pages on Facebook and on Twitter
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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