When was the last time you took a look at your dinner plate and noticed the variety of colors on it? Do you ever have those meals where everything is some shade of brown or tan or beige? I certainly hope not, though I used to fall prey from time to time to the convenience of fast food. Foods with color also carry life. Brown foods, not so much.
We are very fortunate to have a rainbow of produce available to us most seasons of the year throughout America. Preferably, fresh local produce should be sought out, but it is quite possible to obtain wonderful organic frozen produce year round. The colors of vegetables actually hint at their nutrients. The wide variety of colors you see at your local farmer’s market or in the produce aisle of your supermarket are actually courtesy of a highly organized group of phytonutrients found in the plants. These color giving substances, or pigments can be grouped together by color to tell us just what they have to offer.
The red color vegetables and fruits, such as red peppers, tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit contain lycopene. Lycopene is a cartenoid that is known to help prevent heart disease and certain cancers. Also you will find certain flavonoids which are beneficial to our health in that they seem to provide cells with energy and integrity, though scientists are not able to pinpoint exactly why. In the purple and blue category you will find beets, purple grapes, plums, blackberries, blueberries, eggplant and even radicchio. These are colored in this way due to their anthocyanin content, which is a powerful antioxidant that can help to ward off short-term memory loss and some age related diseases. Again, you see these foods giving our cells life and vitality. With yellow and orange you’ll find carrots, yellow bell peppers, oranges and sweet potatoes. These are loaded with beta carotenes and can also be converted to vitamin A, very crucial to our immune health. Finally, you certainly can’t forget the greens! This asortment runs the gamut from artichokes, asparagus and broccoli to leafy greens such as kale, spinach, chard and more. Asparagus and artichokes are good sources of rutin, which maintains a healthy circulatory system. Leafy greens contain lutein, shown to be beneficial to eye health. And broccoli and cabbage are rich in cancer fighting compounds. Not to mention each group contains many varieties of vitamins and minerals in various amounts. It’s a great idea to vary your diet with fresh produce that is in season and loaded with color. Choose from the rainbow of colors out there and paint yourself a wide palette each night on your dinner plates. This will help to ensure you get the vitamins and minerals you need, increase the eye appeal of your meals, as well as the taste factor too. Don’t settle for boring, go for a rainbow of color every time you serve a meal. Just think of all the amazing vegetables and fruits in various colors that you may have never tried. All those phytonutrients are just waiting to nourish you, go out and try some variety in your produce choices this season.
This time of year is a great time to capture the color of the season’s bounty. I was just at my local farm market and noticed all the wide array of color still available. From hardy greens to roots to various peppers, it’s not hard to accumulate a beautiful medley of color for your plate. Try making a rainbow salad, or garnishing your meals with a finely diced pepper, or make a root vegetable slaw with beets, carrots and turnips and toss in some fresh chopped parsley. Beautiful!
2 cups mixed baby greens
a variety of bell peppers sliced
a radish sliced
Isn’t that pretty?! Think of all the vitality in those gorgeous colors, that you are consuming and allowing your body to benefit from!
What about you? What are you doing to make your dinner plates more colorful? Feel free to share your ideas, recipes and pics in the comments………..