This year, the Fun Food Feed is featuring dishes inspired by blue zone project communities.
Fall’s featured longevity blue zone project communities are in the state of Iowa.
A blue zone is a “small, homogenous geographical area where the population shares the same lifestyle and environment, and its exceptional longevity has been scientifically proven.”
Blue zone project communities differ from blue zones, in that they are not discovered, but intensionally created. The blue zone team works with the community’s local leaders, government, businesses, schools and parks to create an environment where the healthy choice is the easy choice.
This environment supports the nine shared blue zone lifestyle habits:
- Plant-Based Diet, including legumes as a staple
- Moderate Calorie Intake, stopping eating when feel 80% full
- Abstaining from alcohol, or limiting intake to 1-2 small glasses per evening.
- Moving Naturally, growing gardens, walking to the store, house and yard work by hand
- Life Purpose
- Stress Reduction, with meditation, prayer, naps and socializing
- Belonging, to a positive community, often faith-based
- Family, with members committed to helping each other
- Social Circle, of several supportive members with healthy behaviors
PROJECT RESULTS – IOWA
Improved community connectivity and made it easier for residents and students to commute and move naturally, with new walkways with benches, trails, protected bicycle lanes, comfortable transit stations, traffic-calming medians, roundabouts and signals.
Integrated trees, open green space, and other natural features, diverting cars, and revitalized its historic downtown to create a pedestrian-friendly atmosphere.
This resulted in the city of Marion seeing a 16 percent increase in people who feel active and productive every day, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.
The city of Muscatine saw a 17+ percent increase in exercise levels, while stress levels dropped 13.6 percent, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. One of their redesigned streets now count 10,000+ pedestrian trips a year.
Organized volunteer opportunities for community members, resulting in 800 citizens offering 3900+ hours over 18 months in the city of Waterloo.
Organized walking school buses to schools, increasing children walking to school, including more than 640 students in Sioux City. Held school walk-a-thons, for fundraisers, raising over $70,000 in Mason City.
Created new city ordinances banning e-cigarettes in places where tobacco products are banned.
Increased fruits and vegetables eaten and sold in schools, local restaurants and grocery stores. Created more community gardens, resulting in gardens doubling in number in the city of Harlan.
Eliminated vending machines selling unhealthful foods and beverages.
Blue Zone Certified markets, with healthful samples, recipes, nutrition education, check-out lanes and parking spaces.
Blue zones certified restaurants, and supported the opening of cafes in YMCA locations, with healthful whole-plant-based menu options.
Offered healthcare wellness incentives, leading to a 30 percent increase in productivity.
The city of Mercy saw a 15.4 percent increase in optimal BMI, an 11.6 percent increase in optimal diabetic risk, and a 3 percent increase in optimal cholesterol levels.
“It isn’t easy to reverse engineer a society that has grown dependent on fast food and automobiles, but we have to do just that if we are going to stem the tide of obesity and chronic disease in our nation,” said Dan Buettner, a National Geographic explorer and New York Times best-selling author who founded blue zones project based on his research into the world’s longest living people. “When the environment makes it easy to be active, people naturally make better choices—so instead of driving to the store or to a restaurant, they may walk or ride a bike. They become more engaged in their community, and research shows they live longer, healthier lives.”
This Fall’s Featured Recipe is for Cauliflower Nuggets. As leaves fade from green to red and orange, and a cool crisp breeze greets us, these crispy and hearty nuggets, hot from the oven, are a welcome treat. Great for celebrations, and enjoyed by kids and adults alike.
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Yield: ~4 to 8 servings
- 1 head cauliflower florets
- ½ cup whole grain flour
- 1 – 1 ½ cups water or almond milk
- Salt & seasoning to taste
- 1 cup sprouted bread crumbs, oil-free whole grain panko, whole grain unsweetened oil-free cracker or cereal or chip crumbs.
- Optional: Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Sauce
- Optional: Favorite dipping sauces, like barbecue, ketchup, plant-based ranch-style dressing, mustard, hummus, sriracha, whole-plant-based pesto, and/or hot sauce.
- Optional: Celery, carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, and cucumber spears.
- Cutting board & knife
- Bowl & Measuring cups
- Baking sheet lined with parchment
- In bowl, mix flour, salt & seasonings. Add just enough liquid to form a cake batter consistency that will lightly coat each floret, and help the crumbs adhere.
- Dip each floret, one by one, in the batter, then into the crumbs, & gently set on baking sheet.
- Bake at 400F for 5 – 15 minutes, until crisp & starting to brown.
- Optional: For Buffalo-Style Nuggets/”Wings,” next dip each floret into buffalo sauce, and return to baking sheet. Bake until batter becomes crisp once again.
- Serve immediately, with favorite optional dipping sauce(s) and vegetables.