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Melissa Mayo

May 23, 2016

EAT THE RAINBOW

Post by Melissa Mayo

When it comes to cooking I am always looking to create the most colorful dishes. After all people eat with their eyes first and pretty food just tastes better. You will always see lots and lots of color in my dishes …

In addition to looking amazing on your plate, colorful food also has so many health benefits. The more colors you use, the more varied the nutrients, antioxidants and vitamins you are consuming. And these are vital to our body’s health and wellbeing.

Our brains crave variety and mixing up your meals by using a combination of fruits and veggies from nature keeps it interesting. The different colors trick your brain into being satisfied so you don’t overeat. The mind tells the body it’s full a lot quicker when we eat the rainbow.

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As a parent I know how important it is to teach kids about eating right at a young age. Studies show that habits children learn in their early years will generally prevail in adulthood. But so many kids prefer packaged and processed food loaded with sugar and preservatives.

Studies show kids need a minimum of 5 servings of fruits and veggies every day. So we need to encourage them to eat new and different foods early on. This will teach them to make healthy choices throughout their lives.

I find the best way to do this is to make it fun. Head over to the store with your kids and make sure to buy fruits and veggies from the entire color spectrum… red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and white. And buy only the items that are in season so you know everything will be juicy and tasty.

Have your kids help you create different vegetable and salad combinations using the produce. Award prizes if they manage to include every color in the dish.

Try keep the ingredients raw but if you need to cook the produce keep it simple. Roast, grill, sauté or steam them so the nutrients are kept intact. You can check out some of my recipes on my site for inspiration but the key here is to play, play, play and have fun, fun, fun!!!

I have included a chart below showing you the types of items in each color group as well as the nutrients and benefits they provide.

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COLOR FOODS BENEFITS NUTRIENTS
RED Red peppers, tomatoes, beets, radishes, red apples, grapefruit, red potatoes, cherries, watermelon, plums, strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb Reduces risk of cancer and heart disease. Decreases inflammation, increased immunity, boosts eye, skin and hair health Vitamin A, C, manganese, antioxidants (lycopene and quercetin)
GREEN Broccoli, cabbage, green beans, celery, peas, kale, lettuce, green apples, brussel sprouts, dark leafy greens, green peppers, cucumbers, asparagus, zucchini, avocados, kiwi, pears, green grapes, fresh herbs Promotes eye health, lowers blood pressure, improves lung health, liver function, healthy cell production, reduces risk of cancer, increase blood clotting Vitamin K, Vitamin B’s , folate, potassium, antioxidants (chlorophyll, carotenoids, lutein)
ORANGE/YELLOW Orange and yellow pepper, butternut, yams, carrots, sweet potatoes, banana, apricots, guavas, cantaloupe, papaya, nectarines, peaches, pineapple, mango, oranges, lemons Reduces risk of cancer and heart disease, promotes eye, skin and hair health, increases immunity, decreases inflammation Vitamins C, A, B6, potassium, folate, antioxidants (beta-carotene, lutein, alpha-carotene)
BLUE/ PURPLE Eggplant, beets, plums, red onion, red cabbage, blueberries, grapes, blackberries, purple potatoes Reduces risk of cancer and heart disease, protects cells from damage, improves memory, prevents aging B-vitamins, antioxidants (anthocyanins, resveratrol, flavonoids
WHITE Garlic, parsnips, cauliflower, jicama, mushrooms, onions, rutabagas, fennel Lowers cholesterol, reduces risk of cancer and heart disease, protects cells from damage, increased immunity, boosts eye, skin, bone and hair health Vitamins C, K, Folates, potassium, antioxidants (allicin, quercetin, anthoxanthins)
Food styling by the amazing Chelsea Dacosta. Follow her on Instagram @seaforchel

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