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.
Red vegetables and fruits are rich in lycopene. This plant nutrient is a potent antioxidant that also happens to provide foods such as tomatoes, watermelon, red peppers, and grapefruit with their characteristic colours. Lycopene has been linked to a range of health benefits including promoting optimal heart health and potentially preventing or slowing down certain types of cancers.
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.
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.
Escarole is a bitter green that stands up to heat and is suitable for grilling, braising, or using in soups. In this salad, it’s broiled with radishes before being dressed in a sweet, garlicky dressing that cuts the bitterness. Escarole is high in folate (vitamin B9), important in red blood cell formation, and vitamin A, important in immune function and eye health. Like kale and other cruciferous vegetables, it’s also very high in vitamin K, which assists in blood clotting. Bitter green substitutes If you can’t find escarole, use frisée (also called curly endive), mustard greens, or radicchio. Romaine also stands up to heat well and makes a good substitute, but it lacks the characteristic bitterness of the others.
In Japan, it’s a custom to eat kabocha squash on the day of the winter solstice as a symbol of good health. In fact, kabocha squash contains cancer-fighting antioxidants such as beta carotene and lutein. It’s also full of fibre and vitamins A and C. We’ve made a roasted version dressed in a sweet and tangy marinade that’s sprinkled with sesame seeds before roasting in the oven. The remaining marinade, full of ginger, tamari, and red pepper flakes, is used as a dressing to further flavour the squash. Know your squash You’ll recognize kabocha squash by its dark green rind and round shape. Its yellowish-orange flesh is sweeter than other types and has been likened to a cross between sweet potato and pumpkin. The rind is quite hard but is edible when cooked. Wash squash well and take care while cutting. You can microwave the whole squash for 4 to 5 minutes prior to cutting to help soften the rind and make things a bit easier.
This homage to the sun plays out visually as well as nutritionally. To celebrate the return of the vitamin D-giving sun, this dish of eggs, spinach, and yogurt with a hint of spice is a vitamin D party on a plate. A single serving of these eggs contains 12 g of protein and more than 70 percent of the RDA of vitamin D. Taking inspiration from the Turkish egg dish çilbir, the creamy yogurt is drizzled with a little bit of olive oil that’s been flavoured with chili flakes and sweet paprika. Lay out components separately and then mix them up to savour the creamy texture and delicious smoky flavour. Eggs and a drop of vinegar Adding acidic vinegar to the poaching water changes the structure of the protein (as does cooking) and helps the egg hold its shape by making that process happen more rapidly.