From the “Something to Think About” Department: Overcoming Disease with Vegetables!

Don’t you appreciate new beginnings? That’s what the month of January is all about. With some reflection and honest assessment, we can make effective plans to begin anew.

Hence the theme of this article, from the “Something to Think About” department: making a few dietary changes for improved health in 2021. Specifically, eating more vegetables to protect and overcome disease, and in the process shed some unwanted weight. How about it…you in?

For instance, abundant and reliable research has proven that a diet high in vegetables is amazingly effective in the ability to lower cholesterol and to slow down and reverse many degenerative diseases (Ornish, D., LANCET, 1990.)—more effective than cholesterol-lowering drugs, in fact (except in the case of rare genetic expressions).

Dr. Bill Castelli (Framingham Heart Study of NIH director), Dr. Bill Roberts (editor of the medical journal, CARDIOLOGY), and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn (heart researcher from the Cleveland Clinic), have each affirmed that they’ve never seen a heart disease fatality in patients who had blood cholesterol levels below 150 mg/dL.

What makes vegetables so effective? It’s their high nutrient-availability and nutrient-density, as well as their stabilizing influence on the blood. They have a soothing and calming effect on the mind, body, and nervous system. Studies show that during any manor health crisis, you should increase your vegetable intake significantly.

The nutrient-density of food refers to the ratio between nutrients and calories consumed. An apple, for example, is nutrient-dense. Loads of vitamins, minerals, and trace elements compared to how few calories it contains. Greatest nutrient density is achieved when phyto-chemicals, antioxidant activity, water, and total mineral and vitamin content are highest and calories consumed are lowest. Simply put, arresting disease and sustaining good health is dependent upon developing a habit of consuming nutrient-dense foods, rather than the American fast foods we all know and love.

If this is something you’d like to seriously think about for this new year, then here are two good suggestions. First, check out, a well-researched book (found on and site dedicated to helping people thrive on a whole-foods, plant-based diet.

Second, get acquainted with and use this chart; it lists foods in order of greatest nutrient density. The numbers in parentheses refer to the food’s nutrient score. I created a chapter in Cook’n (“Healthy Meal Planning”) where I placed this chart for easy reference. I also copied it and taped it to the inside of the cupboard door above the counter where I prep food.

I first saw this chart about 15 years ago, and it helped me see how poorly I was feeding my body. I didn’t realize how inadequate my food choices really were. This was a wake-up call and from that moment I determined to make some major adjustments to my meal plans. I’ve never regreted that decision and my health and immune system have never been stronger.

I’ll close with a delicious veggie-based recipe (adapted from ORIGINAL FAST FOODS) to kick-start your efforts towards incorporating more of them into your meal plans, along with my best wishes for a healthy and happy 2021!

Mexicali Casserole

Yield: 4 - 6 servings


2 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups corn fresh or frozen
1 medium onion chopped
1 red bell pepper chopped
1 (15-ounce) can black beans drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans drained and rinsed
1 2/3 cups salsa (fresh is always best)
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine all ingredients into casserole dish and cover. Bake for 45 minutes. To serve, garnish with diced avocado, tomato, sliced olives, and shredded romaine lettuce. (NOTE: adding browned and seasoned ground beef is an option, but consider only a few tablespoons as opposed to the proverbial pound of browned meat.)

Recipe formatted with the Cook'n Recipe Software from DVO Enterprises.

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    Alice Osborne
    DVO Newsletter Contributor since 2006
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