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Eating the Rainbow for Immunity

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As children, we were instructed, and sometimes pleaded with, to eat our vegetables or try a fruit when in search of a sweet treat. While I was not particularly jazzed about the steamed broccoli on my plate as a kid, as I got older and started cooking for myself, a whole world of multi-hued produce opened my eyes to the delicious possibilities. 

With the start of colder weather nearly upon us, eating foods in a rainbow of colours is more important than ever to help keep our immune systems strong and ready to combat colds, flus, and other viruses.

Colourful fruits and vegetables contain valuable phytonutrients. These compounds not only give plants their distinctive colour, aroma, and taste, but when we eat them, phytonutrients have been shown to have an array of benefits from anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects to reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

Eating a rainbow of produce is easy. Nature provides so many colourful options readily available in any grocery store or market. Try to aim for two to three servings of different coloured fruits and vegetables at every meal, as well as one to two at every snack.

Read on and get ready for some eye-catching and tasty inspiration on how to paint your plate with the colours of the rainbow.

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Halibut Poached in Tomato Red Pepper Sauce

Halibut Poached in Tomato Red Pepper Sauce
Orange Carrot Cake

What better way to celebrate healthy eating than with cake? Thanks to a healthy dose of orange fruits and vegetables, this cake is chock full of carotenoids, a compound that converts to vitamin A in the body and is essential for proper immune health and good eye health.

Tempeh and Mango Curry

The stars of this delicious curry dish are yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, which are high in a form of carotenoids called xanthophylls. These compounds have more of a yellow pigment as opposed to their orangier cousins, the carotenes. While a powerful antioxidant, xanthophylls are mostly associated with maintaining good eye health.

Herb and Greens Frittata

Deep green fruits and vegetables are high on the list of health-promoting foods. Green foods have been shown to contain high amounts of antioxidants and nutrients that promote good cardiovascular health and can inhibit certain carcinogens. Serve this frittata alongside a leafy green salad for an unbeatable green culinary experience.

Purple Cabbage and Apple Soup

This vibrant soup is a soul-soothing hug in a bowl. Blue and purple fruits and vegetables contain powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins that promote health and proper brain function.

Caramelized Fennel and Yogurt Dip

This creamy dip will be your go-to for dunking vegetables or for spooning over roast chicken or root vegetables as a sauce. Compounds found in fennel have been shown to stimulate the production of T-cells in our body, which, in turn, may help improve our immune response to infections.

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Choosing Sustainable Seafood

Choosing Sustainable Seafood

Are you wondering what it means to buy “sustainable” seafood? The type of seafood, where it’s from, and how it’s caught or harvested all play into what makes seafood sustainable. Simply put, it means that the harvest of a particular seafood is done in a way that allows for continued harvesting into the future. But it’s not simply a question of controlling overfishing. Impacts on the environment are also key. Wild fish have the reputation of being more sustainable, but that’s only if they’re fished through managed seafood programs and don’t have other impacts such as pollution or depletion of other species.   Seafood from aquaculture can also be sustainable, provided it is done in a way that avoids any detrimental effects to the larger ocean environment or other species. Stay informed, though, since species considered sustainable one day may be under threat the next. This might mean being willing to try something new or forgoing a favourite for something that is more sustainable. While that may sound like a sacrifice, it’s also an opportunity to discover a new favourite. If you live in an area where seafood is harvested, making a decision to support local fishers and harvesters may also influence your decision about which sustainable seafood choices to make. Navigating the specifics can be tricky, but your local fish counter is a great place to start your quest for sustainable fish. Your fishmonger is a valuable source of information about where the product is sourced. You can also look for certifications from organizations such as Ocean Wise and Marine Stewardship Council. Once you get it home, sustainable seafood’s variety and versatility presents us with an ocean of delicious opportunities in the kitchen. Try these recipes for simple, flavourful, and diverse preparations. Your choices can help Ocean Wise Seafood is a seafood certification program that helps consumers and businesses choose sustainable seafood options. The program works with scientists to assess the state of aquatic ecosystems and the species they support, making recommendations on sustainable choices. They employ a simple rating of either Ocean Wise Recommended or Not Recommended. Look for the Ocean Wise symbol when you buy seafood or check out their website ( seafood.ocean.org ) to search for sustainable seafood options. They have information about various species, where and how they’re fished or harvested, and whether your choice is sustainable. It’s simple, easy, and reassuring. Face your fish-prep fears Many of us shy away from cooking seafood because we think we don’t know how, or because we may be worried about spoiling a piece of beautiful fish. Here are some quick tips to relieve your fish-prep fears. Start with the best In addition to asking at your fish counter about sustainability, don’t be afraid to ask how the seafood you’re buying has been transported and stored. Frozen fish, which is flash frozen, may be a better choice than a piece of “fresh” fish that has been around for a while. Store it properly Shellfish Store shellfish in the fridge, in a shallow pan without water, and cover with a damp kitchen towel. Frozen fish Remove frozen fish from its packaging, and thaw, loosely covered, in the fridge overnight. Drain any water that collects as it thaws. Cook fresh fish within two days. Celebrate simplicity Quality seafood is its own celebration and lends itself to simple preparations: a quick grill, a dash of lemon. Keep it simple and let the flavour of the fish shine through! Let your fish warm up It may sound strange, but letting your fish come up to room temperature over about 30 minutes will help you get an even temperature when it’s time to cook. Explore different cooking methods Poached, grilled, steamed, baked—seafood does it all. If you always grill fish, explore a gentle poach or raw preparation. Know your temperature Use higher heat for grilling, and make sure the pan or grill is hot when the fish hits it. Use low heat and a gentle simmer when poaching. Skin side down Cooking fish with the skin on helps keep it together. When grilling, cook the skin side first to protect the fish as it cooks. Know when it’s done Fish is done when it flakes easily with a fork and is barely opaque in the centre. Dive in Don’t let your fear stop you. Just get started!

Mussels with Tomato, Saffron, and Fennel

Mussels with Tomato, Saffron, and Fennel

B12-rich mussels are a very good and economical source of protein and iron. Steamed mussels are a classic way to enjoy seafood—and so is this rich, aromatic broth of tomato, fennel, and saffron. Be sure to allow saffron to fully infuse to get the full flavour benefit, and finish off the dish with the fragrant fennel fronds. Sustainability status Farmed mussels are considered highly sustainable due to their low impacts on the environment. They are easy to harvest, require no fertilizer or fresh water, and don’t need to be fed externally, as they get all their nutritional requirements from their marine environment. Mussel prep Selection: Look for mussels with shiny, tightly closed shells that smell of the sea. If shells are slightly open, give them a tap. Live mussels will close immediately. Storage: Keep mussels in the fridge in a shallow pan laid on top of ice. Keep them out of water and cover with a damp cloth. Ideally, consume on the day you buy them, but within two days. They need to breathe, so never keep them in a sealed plastic bag. Cleanup: In addition to being sustainable, farmed mussels tend to require less cleaning than wild mussels. Most of the fibrous “beards” that mussels use to grip solid surfaces will have been removed before sale. But if a few remain, they’re easily dispatched: grasp the beard with your thumb and forefinger and pull it toward the hinge of the mussel and give it a tug. Afterward, give mussels a quick rinse and scrub away any areas of mud or seaweed, which, with farmed mussels, will require minimal work.