Winter is cold, dull, and gray, but it doesn't have to be so on your dinner plate...or any meal for that matter! Make your meals sunny and robust with colors and flavors, straight from nature! The idea is to get as many natural (by this, I mean no food colors and/or man-made chemicals) colors of the rainbow onto your plate as you possible can. This means more antioxidants, carotenoids, flavonoids, nutrients, variety, and choices.
ROYGBIV: Obviously these are just a few examples of what Mother Nature has to offer us. Explore the many options of Austin Farmer's Markets, neighborhood grocery produce aisles, or even your own garden for more ideas.
- R (RED): cherries, bell peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, radishes, pomegranates, kidney beans, beets, potatoes, roses, hibiscus flowers
- O (ORANGE): oranges, tangerines, tangelos, carrots, persimmons, mangos, bell peppers, peaches, cantaloupe
- Y (YELLOW): golden apples, bananas, yellow bell peppers, corn, tomatoes, pear tomatoes, lemons, dandelion flowers
- G (GREEN): leafy greens, broccoli, kale, spinach, cucumbers, apples, kiwis, grapes, pears, green beans, jalapeños, limes, okra, herbs (e.g., basil, cilantro, parsley, mint, oregano, etc.), seaweed
- B (BLUE) - I (INDIGO) - V (VIOLET): blueberries, cabbage, eggplant, kale, plums, perilla, raddichio
- WHITE (White is not part of the rainbow but it is a naturally occurring color): cauliflower, mushrooms, garlic, daikon radish, turnips, pansies
MIX AND MATCH COLORS: Presentation is half of the meal. A colorful plate is sure to entice the eyes, thus the stomach. Don't be afraid to mix and match fruits and vegetables (even flowers and herbs) in your meal. Whoever said that you MUST only use herbs as garnish, put flowers in a vase for aesthetics, eat vegetables during the entree and fruits for a snack? Mixing and matching boasts your chances of sticking to a healthier lifestyle than if you ate options A, B and C day in and day out.
MIX AND MATCH COOKING TECHNIQUES: Steam, bake, sauté, broil, or fresh....whatever your preference is, explore it! Perhaps you'd like serve steamed brown rice with sautéed garlic-mushroom sauce over baked fish and broiled butternut squash and kale. For dessert, maybe a fresh fruit bowl with flowers sprinkled on top? Mixing and matching cooking techniques also means textures. A variety of textures is guaranteed to be appetizing!
LITTLE APPETITES: If you have children, encourage them to help you make a rainbow meal. Young children love to help out in the kitchen and share their knowledge with you. Perhaps you can ask them "what yellow fruits can you think of?" when you stroll through the produce aisle. Ask them to help you arrange a "food rainbow" on their own plate!
Next time, I will be sharing some of my favorite recipes....