‘Always add the greens last’
“Let’s make sure to balance our sugar with protein and fiber,” Nicole Cormier, RD, LDN explains to her attentive audience.
“Always try to add those dark leafy greens to your meal,” she cajoles.
“The fewer ingredients the better,” she explains. “That way you know them well.”
Cormier, a registered dietician and nutritionist who owns Delicious Living Nutrition, Inc., was meeting with 18 selected patients of Emerald Physicians who participated in a recent 12-week pilot project that prescribed farmers’ market fresh fruits and vegetables.
Their blood pressure, standing glucose levels, cholesterol, body mass, weight circumference and hemoglobin were measured and recorded before the 12-week program, a collaboration with the agricultural non-profit Sustainable CAPE, began. At the end, Dr. Kumara Sidhartha, who is leading the project, will determine what impact all the fresh produce and nutritional education has had on the patients’ health.
While half the patients got a prescription for fruits and vegetables, the other control group received gift cards for gas stations. The prescriptions have a value of $30 worth of free fruit or vegetables redeemable at the Orleans farmers’ market during the study period. That ensured a controlled experiment, he explained.
“The contrast between the prescription group and the control group should be considerable.”
Cormier, who has published several books including $5 a Meal Vegetarian College Cookbook, 201 Organic Smoothies and Juices for a Healthy Pregnancy, was contracted by the project called FLAVORx. It’s a collaboration between the primary care practice, Emerald Physician Services, under the medical leadership of Dr. Sidhartha and Sustainable CAPE. Sustainable CAPE is a local farmers’ market champion directed by its founder Francie Randolph.
Her mission was to show the participants, all low-income patients at Emerald Physicians who depend primarily on Medicaid, how to shop and eat healthier to prevent or improve chronic conditions ranging from diabetes to hypertension.
This particular week she was focusing on soups with all the ingredients purchased at the farmer’s market – sweet potatoes, winter squash, carrots, beets, onions and greens. Other ingredients included lentils and olive oil.
“Always add the greens last,” she instructed.
Other dishes the group cooked together included a crustless quiche, polenta and sautéed fall vegetables with lentils.
“What an amazing partnership,” she said, referring not only to Dr. Sidhartha, but also Cape Cod Healthcare, Sustainable CAPE and the local farmers market. “While this program focuses exclusively on a particular demographic, the power of fresh produce extends to everybody living on Cape Cod.”
It is easy to develop an unhealthy relationship with food, said Cormier.
“We are bombarded every day with fast food and processed food advertising. We are so busy in our lives that we don’t have the time or patience to shop for and cook fresh ingredients. With this project, we are trying to create and cultivate new experiences to build a healthier relationship with what we consume.”