How many colors do you eat each day? A well-balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables is essential to a long, healthy life. But it's complicated to keep track of how often we eat broccoli. One way to eat better is to try to eat the rainbow every day. (And we don't mean Skittles!) The broader the array of colors we eat, the more varied the nutrients. Need some help adding more color to the plate? We have you covered.
Stir-frying is an easy way to add all sorts of bright, nutrient-rich veggies to a meal. Choose tomatoes and red peppers for a rich source of lycopene, an antioxidant that may slow the signs of aging and cardiovascular disease. Add orange carrots for a healthy dose of beta-carotene, which is essential for skin and eye health.
Purple garlic and onions will add allicin and anthocyanins to the dish, compounds that have been found to reduce cholesterol and improve blood vessel elasticity. Broccoli, with its rich green color, is an excellent source of fiber and calcium, as well as vitamins A, C and K.
For a great stir-fry, use a large pan or wok and heat your oil before you add your veggies. Start with onion for flavor and veggies that are slower to cook, like carrots and tomatoes. Garlic, which can go bitter if cooked too long, and broccoli, which can wilt quickly, should go in last. The variety of veggies will pack this dish with flavor, so at the end just add a little salt and pepper to taste.
What easier way to get as many colors together as possible than to mix them all in a blender? Use blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and other bright fruits to add a variety of blues and reds for anthocyanins, flavonoids and other antioxidants. Bananas add fiber, potassium and numerous other minerals. Add in some beautiful, orange mango or some yellow pineapple for a boost of vitamins A and C. Sneak in some dark, leafy potassium-rich greens, such as spinach, to really get it right.
Vegetable kabobs are versatile and fun to eat. Try grilling them on the barbeque for added flavor. Use zucchini and yellow squash for a good source of folate and vitamins A and K. White foods like mushrooms are rich in potassium and other important minerals. Add eggplant for a good dose of nasunin, a powerful antioxidant that gives the fruit its dark purple color and may protect brain health.
Alternate different vegetables with slices of onion, garlic, shrimp or meat to give each bite the most kick. Soak wooden or bamboo sticks in plain water before use to reduce burning on the grill and vary vegetable slice sizes based on cooking times so the kabobs cook evenly.
Zucchini Noodles (Zoodles)
Looking for a creative way to get more greens in? Try making zucchini “noodles” using a spiralizer or long, even slices of zucchini served with garlic and olive oil, butter or cheese. Or bake a spaghetti squash and serve it in place of pasta to cut some carbs. A basic marinara sauce will add in a wealth of red and orange vitamins and antioxidants.
Fully Loaded Salad
We’re not talking a bowl of chopped iceberg — we’re talking a bright, gorgeous presentation of color and flavor. Start with a green base, such as romaine lettuce or spinach for folate, Vitamins A and K and a broad variety of minerals. Add slices of bell peppers, tomatoes and carrots for the reds and oranges, and don’t forget the purple onion.
Cucumber offers some added crunch and is another great source of green nutrients. Add bite-sized slices of apple to make the flavors pop. Apples also contain a variety of phytochemicals, antioxidants that give the fruits their bright colors and may reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease, asthma, diabetes and cancer. Don't forget to add blueberries, strawberries or just about any other fruit for even more essential nutrients.
The body needs a wide variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to function at its best. The most effective way to know we're getting them all is to eat a rainbow. Hopefully, these ideas sparked some of your own, too. Thank goodness it's lunchtime, now I'm hungry.
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