Making Healthy Food “Hip”: The Broccoli Revolution

iStock_000015487644MediumIn case you missed the article  in the New York Times on Sunday, the question that was raised was “what if broccoli was marketed like other highly processed food we get tricked into buying?”  Michael Moss, the author of “Sugar, Fat, and Salt: How the Food Giants Hooked Us” asked some of the master marketing minds from big food corporations “How would you get people to want to buy and eat broccoli? What would your campaign look like? What would the message be? What would you do that all the well-intentioned government-funded campaigns have failed to do for generations?”

I have to admit that I often buy broccoli because I know it’s healthy.  I also have to admit that I sometimes just throw it away because it’s gone bad before I eat it. Why? Well, as I discovered from reading this article, I have become pretty limited in how I think about broccoli and don’t often think about putting it in the meals that I cook.  For instance, did you know you can grill broccoli?  As one the marketing slogans said, “Have a side of steak with your broccoli.” Just by reading this article and thinking more about how “awesome” broccoli can be, I have bought broccoli once, ate it, and really liked it, and I have found a new recipe with broccoli that I’m going to try later in the week (it’s a stir fry with broccoli and shrimp).  My mind seems to be fascinated with the idea of making broccoli exciting.

We are very conditioned by the messages in our heads and in our environment.  How many messages do you see for fresh fruits and vegetables?  If you did, how much more would you think about them, buy them, and eat them?  Mindfulness can help us break out of the ruts of conditioning and discover new worlds of food.  I challenge you to pick a vegetable that you think you only eat because it’s healthy.  Think about a cool marketing campaign for it, find some new recipes and try them out, approach the vegetable with a beginner’s mind that will allow you to see it in all its glory.  So much of what we do starts with how we think about it.  Change your thoughts and you change your reality.  Repeat after me.. “Broccoli is awesome.”

We are also very conditioned by our taste buds.  If you eat a lot of highly processed food or food with sugar, fat, and salt, then your taste buds have become less sensitive and less able to enjoy the delightful subtleties of fresh fruits and vegetables.  (See my blog “Mindfully Training Your Taste Buds”).  Mindful eating can turn this around for you.  You can re-condition your taste buds to discover the joys of broccoli and many other vegetables.

Watch this video to see the behind scenes story about the broccoli makeover.

Become part of the movement to make healthy food hip!


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One response to “Making Healthy Food “Hip”: The Broccoli Revolution

  1. Martha Dragich

    Great post, Lynn!

    I’m not surprised that grilling and stir-frying are two of the ways suggested to make broccoli more appealing. High-heat, dry cooking methods work great with broccoli–and have nothing in common with cooking to it death in water, the way we may have experienced it in the past.

    My favorite way with broccoli and many other firm, strong vegetables is roasting. It’s simple! Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Cut the broccoli into medium-large florets and place in a bowl. (To minimize waste, you can also peel the stalks and cut into chunks of similar size to the florets.) Drizzle the broccoli lightly with olive oil and sprinkle on salt and pepper to taste. Spray or brush a sheet pan with a bit of oil. Dump the broccoli onto the sheet pan. Bake for a total of about 20 minutes. After the first 10 minutes, check on its progress and shake the pan or turn it around for more even cooking. Give it another 10 minutes before checking for doneness. The broccoli is done when there is some browning and the broccoli has softened somewhat but still retains some firmness. Take the broccoli out of the oven and place in a serving bowl. I usually drizzle it very lightly with balsamic vinegar. It is also good just as it is, or with a light sprinkling of grated parmesan.

    This same treatment works very well for brussels sprouts and many other veggies. At my house, our version of the slogan “Baby Carrots: Eat ‘Em Like Junk Food” (from the New York Times article you linked) is Roasted Veggies: Eat ‘Em like Candy. Roasting does such wonders for vegetables that my husband and I can’t resist them.

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