Today’s guest post is courtesy of Maria Rainier, a freelance writer and blog junkie. Maria is currently a resident blogger at First in Education where she writes about education, online degrees, and what it takes to succeed as a student taking online programs remotely from home. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.
The Omnivore’s Guide to Eating the Colors of the Rainbow
Including naturally colorful foods in your diet has a lot of benefits and can keep you from eating that boring, colorless, starchy meal you just found while you were foraging in the freezer. Fresh foods do it better, and color is just one of the many healthy characteristics of produce that comes straight from the backyard garden or local farmers’ market. If you’re stumped when it comes to including that wide spectrum of colors and flavors in your daily meals, check out these tips to help you make the most of fresh rainbow produce.
This is a great time of day to take advantage of colorful fruits. Add fresh berries to your cereal or oatmeal, enjoy some cantaloupe with low-fat cottage cheese, or mix fresh fruit like sliced bananas and berries into plain Greek yogurt for a delicious start to the morning. You can also make a colorful omelet with chopped vegetables like red and green bell peppers, tomatoes, spinach, Swiss chard, red potatoes, or okra. If you’ve never tried Swiss chard, it’s one of my favorite omelet ingredients and it’s bursting with vitamin K, which helps your body absorb calcium. These colorful breakfast options taste great and will give you a nutritious boost so you can start your day with healthy energy.
Salads are always a great option for lunch, but don’t forget to skip the wimpy iceberg lettuce and add some protein. Choose a colorful leafy green, such as spinach or red leaf lettuce, so you’ll get more nutrients and flavor from your salad base. Add a combination of colorful veggies to the mix, like tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, and olives with olive oil vinaigrette. Or make a fruity salad with grapes, strawberries, apples, and kiwis with raspberry vinaigrette. Both of these salads are wonderful with feta cheese crumbles. For protein, slice a hardboiled egg onto your salad or add some kidney beans, or eat the salad alongside some hummus.
If you’re struggling to find the perfect fresh vegetable side for your main course, try one of these easy and colorful options. Just like you can add Swiss chard to your breakfast omelet, you can use it to create a delicious dinner side when you sauté it in a tablespoon of olive oil and squeeze the juice of a fresh orange onto it during cooking. Another idea is to sauté a mixture of yellow squash and zucchini coins in olive oil, then add fresh chopped tomatoes for the last minute as you cook these veggies. Carrots are also colorful, and you can easily slice and cook them, adding a touch of honey and some fresh dill for an excellent flavor. A big bowl of green beans with lemon juice and slivered almonds is also one of my favorite vegetable sides.
Snacks & Desserts
For colorful savory snacks, I recommend carrots and other raw veggies like bell peppers and celery dipped in hummus or one of these easy dips – choose your favorite flavor and snack away on this healthy treat. Dipping some apple slices into your favorite yogurt is also a great way to tide you over until the next meal. Make a smoothie with crushed ice, milk or soymilk, and a few fruits of your choice for a healthy and fiber-filled snack. I like to use frozen berries and grapes in mine to make it extra chilly or sneak in some low-fat frozen yogurt. Another favorite snack is sliced tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and basil leaves, which is colorful and incredibly delicious.
For Moms & Kids: Involving Children in Meal Preparation
If you’re like most moms, you’re struggling to get your kids to eat and enjoy their fruits and veggies. However, involving your children in choosing and preparing meals can help them become more invested in eating well, enjoying the flavors and colors of fresh produce, and developing healthy habits for life. Try taking them along when you go to the market – I remember looking forward to that as a kid because of the colorful produce, wonderful smells, and friendly people. It’s fun for children to help you pick out what you’ll be eating that night and later in the week, so encourage them to find something they’ve never tried. This is a good way to introduce new fruits and veggies that your kids might even enjoy. On your next trip, instruct your child to help you choose at least one fruit or vegetable in every color of the rainbow, then use all of them within the week. This is a great challenge for both of you that encourages new flavors, fresh recipes, and quality time together at the farmers’ market. Here are even more tips for getting your kids to enjoy fruits and veggies.