The color we see around us in the springtime should remind us of the colors we need to regularly eat as fruits and vegetables: green, orange, yellow, red, and purple. Color is an indicator of the nutritional content, specifically, the phytonutrients that are unique to plant foods. Phytonutrients offer a variety of health benefits including protection from heart disease and cancer. Many of these phytonutrients work as antioxidants in the body, protecting cells from damage.
The USDA’s ChooseMyPlate recommends we fill half our plates with fruits and vegetables everyday. Finding easy ways to color our diet is key and having the right ingredients on hand can make a significant nutritional impact. Here are a few tips for adding quick color to your plate (PLEASE NOTE: Colors from artificially colored breakfast cereals, ‘fruit’ gummies, and sports drinks do not count!):
Shredded carrots- Purchase ready-made or shred whole carrots in a food processor and store in the fridge. These add crunch and sweetness to salads, wraps, skillet dishes and tacos.
Baby spinach- These tender leaves are easy to add fresh to any salad, sandwich, and wrap. Throw in a handful at the end of cooking a stir-fry, soup, or egg dish.
Bell peppers- Choose yellow, red, orange or green, cut into strips and store in the fridge. Munch on at snack time, add to a wrap, and use for any stir fry, skillet or salad.
Sugar snap peas- Slice for salads, steam for a side, or enjoy ‘as is’ for snack time. Their crunchy sweetness is hard to resist.
Red and purple grapes- Use in green salads, grain salads and chicken salads. Freeze a bunch to enjoy as a warm weather snack.
Broccoli slaw- Find this slightly nutty and crunchy slaw in a grocer’s salad section. Enjoy the flavor and texture it adds to salads and wraps. Try it on its own with a light dressing as a yummy side.
This list of ideas can continue! Please share your favorite, easy ways to ‘Go for Color’ with fruits and vegetables.