We have reached the final week of the Real Food Experience Challenges already. It has been a good time to focus on what we are eating and work at enhancing our cooking skills. This week is a challenge to vary the colors of the foods that you are eating. The more colors you eat, the more nutrition you take in. It’s really that simple. This isn’t an original idea, the American Dietetic Association recommends that we “color our plate with a rainbow of foods” everyday. The more colors we eat, the more disease-fighting nutrients we are putting into your body.
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Eat a Rainbow of Fruits and Vegetables Each Week
Have you ever visited the vitamin aisle at your favorite store? It is full of all kinds of ideas for better health. I know I watch Dr. Oz on occasion and he is always telling me I should take this vitamin to help my skin look better and that nutrient to help my memory. It can get rather overwhelming even though he is exactly right. The easy answer……………….Eat your rainbow each day. Focus on not being a “habit eater” where you eat the same things all of the time. The more varied your diet, the more nutrients you will take in.
Now for the rainbow………………
Red Fruits and Vegetables
Red foods contain flavonoid compounds that fight free radicals. Why is this good? The flavonoid compounds prevent damage to cells. Maybe you have heard of lycopene? This is one of the flavonoid compounds found in red foods. It has been shown to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. So work red into your 2 fruits and vegetables at each meal by eating pink grapefruits at breakfast and tossing red berries on your salad at lunch. Roasted beets make a fantastic side or can be worked into your desserts as well.
Orange and Yellow Fruits and Vegetables
These are the ones that are great for building up your immune system which is especially great as we sit here at the height of flu season. The pigments contain carotenoid which help to carry free radicals away. Orange and yellow foods also contain beta-carotene which is good for the heart and helps reduce the risk of cancer. We all know how good vitamin C is for us and we can easily add it to our diet with citrus fruits. Roasted butternut soup is a great way to add the orange and yellows to your diet. Of course, there is also my current obsession………..carrots. I can’t get enough of them. I eat so many that I think I am starting to turn orange.
Blue and Purple Fruits and Vegetables
Blueberries and blackberries get their coloring from phytonutrient flavonoids. These nutrients help to keep your blood vessels working properly. This is why they are known to be great for keeping your heart healthy. These flavonoids have also been found to help reverse short-term memory loss and prevent cancer. Think about adding berries on your cereal and raisins to your cookies. Plums are great on their own or used as a sweetener in recipes. Purple cabbage and potatoes are not just fun to look at, but they bring different nutrients than their traditional counterparts.
White Fruits and Vegetables
The anthoxanthins in white foods can help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. This is one of the reasons that I try to add onions to so many of my recipes. They taste good and they will help keep my husband around longer. You can also look for white potatoes, garlic, turnips, mushrooms and pears to give you the same benefits.
Are you beginning to see why chicken nuggets and fries at every meal isn’t a good thing? Look at all you would be missing out on if you stuck to such a boring diet. I look forward to hearing about how you work the rainbow into your meals. I can’t wait to hear all of your great ideas. Do you find that you only eat a few colors or do you like variety? Is there one color that you never eat? Do you take vitamin supplements or do you prefer to get your nutrition from food?
For simple recipes your family is sure to love make sure you check out my recipe index. I am adding new recipes all of the time so make sure you check back often. You will also want to grab this free meal-planning printable calendar to make your meal planning easier. It has areas to plan your daily activities and your evening meal prep.