Color, Color, Color! Take Advantage of the Food Rainbow

Summer is finally here! And filled with sunshine, warmth, colorful flowers and abundant fresh fruits and vegetables. This time of year is full of activity outside and in the kitchen. We can take advantage of the rainbow of colors provided by these foods to boost our nutritional status.
Phytonutrients are “good chemicals” found in these colorful foods. They help protect the plant itself from outside threats such as germs, fungus and bugs. They also do the same for us! These phytonutrients are also found in whole grains, nuts, beans and tea.
Much of the research done on phytonutrients has been done on the amounts of plant food needed in our diet each day. Other studies have extensively looked at what benefits each COLOR has when we include them in our diet. Most publications agree on 9 servings of plant food each day. Or 3 per meal. A typical serving is one half-cup of cooked vegetables, one cup of raw leafy vegetable, or a medium-sized piece of fruit.
An easy way to portion your plant foods is to remember that ½ of your plate should be fruit and vegetables. Of this, lean toward the vegetables. And remember, COLOR, COLOR, COLOR!
EAT THE RAINBOW! Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue/Purple/Black, White/Tan/Brown are our target colors. Try to get all different groups each day. Also try and get 2-3 different colors with each meal! Breakfast can be a bit boring color-wise unless we get creative. Smoothies are a great way to bring color and nutrition to the morning.
MIX THINGS UP! Try a new food every week or so, to expand your pool of choices. Also combine and rotate the phytonutrient-rich foods to maximize their synergistic effects. Many of the plant foods are better for you in combination than when eaten alone.
BE CREATIVE! I like carbs. Most of us do. If I am going to have mashed potatoes, why not use purple potatoes or sweet potatoes? Instead of white rice, how about a colorful rice? I think you get the point! Keep the RAINBOW in mind when you choose your foods.
And, have a great, healthy summer.