Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Dazzle your family with color! Put a rainbow of colors on your plate

As seen on Channel 7 June 29, 2010

What is an easy and simple way to ensure our families get the variety of fruits and vegetables they need in order to eat healthy?
• Eating fruits and veggies in a variety of colors — red, dark green, yellow, blue, purple, white and orange — not only provides eye candy but mixing things up also provides a broad range of nutrients.
• Think variety and think color by creating a rainbow on your plates.

What is so important about eating a wide variety of colors?
• According to a recent analysis of U.S. food intake data, 80 % of Americans aren't getting enough variety in the colors of fruits and vegetable they eat to provide adequate anti-oxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals that provide a broad range of health benefits for our bodies.
• Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of these valuable nutrients.
• The brighter, deeper colored fruits and vegetables contain higher concentrations of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants—and different colors provide different benefits

Show us the colors!
• The color of each food represents a beneficial nutritional value needed to keep a well-rounded diet.
• Red-colored foods contain high amounts of lycopene, which has been thought to help prevent some cancers and heart disease. They also contain anthocyanins which are antioxidants that can protect us from cell damage.
o Blood oranges, cherries, red grapes, pomegranates, beets, watermelon, radishes, tomatoes, red beans and rhubarb
• Orange-colored foods have carotenoids and high amounts of beta-carotene in particular. Carotenoids help repair DNA, prevent cancers and heart disease. They also help keep our skin and eyes healthy and protect us from infections by boosting our immune system.
o Cantaloupe, mangos, peaches, carrots
o Pumpkins and gourds can be more than just fall decorations!
• Yellow foods - high doses of antioxidants and vitamin C. Vitamin C helps to keep our dental health good as well as helping us heal cuts, improves circulation, prevents inflammation and prevents heart disease.
o Pineapples, lemons, rutabagas, and corn
• Green foods: the darker the color the better they are for you.
o Greens are packed with calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc, vitamins A, C, E and K, and they help strengthen the blood and respiratory systems.
o Be adventurous with your greens and branch out beyond bright and dark green lettuce—kale, mustard greens, broccoli, Chinese cabbage are just a few of the options.
• Blue and purple foods have a pigment called anthocyanins which is a powerful antioxidant that protects cells from damage; reduce risk of cancers, stroke and heart disease. Also remember that dark blue and purple foods are thought to help with the signs of aging by improving memory function, skin health, and reducing damage caused by free radicals in the body.
o Blueberries, blackberries, concord grapes, plums, eggplant
• White-colored/Brown/Tan foods, such as onions, garlic and potatoes are rich in potassium which proves healthy for your heart.
o Cauliflower, jicama, potatoes, ginger

Summer is the perfect time to enjoy the bounties of the garden. Where should we shop to get the best fruits and vegetables?
• In the summer, it is always fun to shop at our local famer’s market. You can purchase fresh foods, and it’s great to come out and be part of the community, see and talk to people, spend some time outdoors, as well as support local farmers.
• Supermarkets are meeting produce demands and providing a wealth of tropical fruits and vegetables that are not grown in our climate.
• And while fresh is good, it is not always better. Contrary to popular opinion, fruits and vegetables that are canned, frozen or dried are as nourishing and nutrient-rich as fresh-sometimes even more so.
• The important point is to color-coordinate your plate and make it fun to eat both tastefully and visually.

Get recipes and ideas to get more of these into meals in easy, creative and tasty ways. Go to www.denverchannel.com and click on “Links mentioned on 7 News.”
• Make a tropical rainbow fruit salad with fruits of each color: oranges, pink grapefruit, mango, papaya, kiwifruit, bananas, and purple grapes.
• Make fruit-sicles: Puree your favorite fruit such as melon, peaches, banana, and/or berries with 100% fruit juice. Freeze in ice cube trays or paper cups or popsicle molds for a refreshing treat. Use fresh, frozen or canned.
• Sauté your own medley of mixed vegetables using each color: red onions, carrots, corn, jicama, broccoli and black beans.
• Try a spinach salad with dried cranberries, canned mandarin oranges and red onion with your favorite vinaigrette.
• Make fruit-sicles: Puree your favorite fruit such as melon, peaches, banana, and/or berries with 100% fruit juice. Freeze in ice cube trays or paper cups or popsicle molds for a refreshing treat. Use fresh, frozen or canned.
• Make a refreshing summer beverage using 100% juice and iced tea.
• Roast a whole head of garlic to make a delicious spread for an appetizer or on sandwiches.
• Steam edamame for a fun snack. Kids love it!
• Make a Greek-inspired salad: romaine lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, chick peas, black olives and artichoke hearts.
• Make confetti coleslaw: shredded green and red cabbage, grated carrots, julienned kohlrabi and finely chopped red and yellow peppers.
• Make a Mexican pizza with tortillas, refried beans, salsa and grated low fat jalapeno cheese. Bake.
• On a busy night, check out the unique combinations of veggies in the frozen section to build a meal – a quick stir-fry, vegetable soup or stew, or a frittata.
• Make a dried fruit and nut mix for snacks. They make great gifts too. Include dried apples, apricots, cranberries, peaches, pears, cherries and mixed nuts.
• Try some different veggie toppings on your pizza:
o eggplant and black olive
o pineapple and onion
o red and green peppers and mushrooms
o fresh tomato and spinach
o broccoli and green olives
o or get the whole shebang

Fresh Tomato Sauce
• 1 to 1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, about 3 large tomatoes
• 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
• 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
• black pepper, to taste
• 1 pound spaghetti
• freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving
If desired, peel tomatoes; remove seeds, straining juice into a bowl. Save the juice and discard seeds. In a food processor, combine garlic, tomatoes with juice, 3 tablespoons olive oil, and basil. Pulse quickly to chop roughly. Pulse more for a smoother sauce, if desired. Transfer to a bowl, add salt and pepper and let stand to marinate for about 20 minutes.
Cook pasta until just tender, drain and toss hot with the marinated tomato sauce. If hotter spaghetti is desired, heat the sauce just until hot on stovetop or in microwave. Serve immediately with Parmesan cheese.
Serves 4 to 6.