Eat the Rainbow Challenge
Everyone talks about eating the rainbow, but what does that mean and why should we do it? We know that fruits and vegetables are good for us, but do you know why it is so important to get every color of the rainbow into your diet?
Our ancestors used to eat thousands of different varieties of foods, yet the average American today eats less than 30. We cannot possibly get the full spectrum of available nutrients necessary to fuel our body like a high performance machine if we only eat pizza, pasta, and sandwiches. In fact, when we over eat one food group we can actually develop allergies to that food. Just look at what has happened to gluten from the over consumption of refined white four.
The trick is to think of the rainbow and eat as many different fruits and vegetables from the colors along the spectrum. From deep reds full of lycopene to the antioxidant blues and nutritional powerhouse greens, our bodies thrive on the diversity of nutrients available in the many different colors.
Eat the Rainbow Challenge
As spring begins to tease us with the first produce in the gardens, we are going to focus on one color each week. Try to incorporate as many new fruits and vegetables as possible with our Eat the Rainbow Challenge. This week we will begin with a focus on RED.
Deep red pigments are often high in vitamin C and flavonoids, both known for their antioxidant properties. Diets high in antioxidants have been linked with preventing cancer even by very conservative groups such as the American Cancer Society.
Is Pizza a Health Food?
Lycopene is a red pigmented antioxidant, which has also been recognized as preventing cancer. Lycopene is actually better absorbed when the vegetable is cooked and accompanied by a small amount of healthy fat. Wait a minute, this may make pizza and pasta begin to look like healthy foods, which we all know is not usually the case. However, I would argue that if made properly, a homemade organic wheat pizza dough with fresh tomato sauce, artisanal mozzarella, and a healthy dose of extra virgin olive oil is indeed a nutrient dense meal.
What About Beans?
Many red berries and beans contain anthocyanin, another antioxidant recognized as a powerful, therapeutic nutrient that can lower blood pressure. The reason Paleo foodies omit beans, is that many of their nutrients are indigestible. However, traditional foodies soak and ferment the beans which unlocks the nutrient profile of the bean, making it not only digestible, but nutritious. Soaking beans can seem like a bother, but it is very simple and very worth it. Try my easy peasy recipe for properly prepared beans.
Red = Cancer Prevention
For the rest of the week I challenge you to incorporate as many red fruits and vegetables as you can. You don't have to remember all of the complicated reasons why, just remember this: when you think of red, think of preventing cancer.
Red Fruits and Vegetables
- Bell Peppers
- Blood Oranges
- Cayenne Peppers
- Ruby Red Grapefruit
Fresh produce is important, not only because of the fiber, but nutrients are lost from the moment the fruit is picked. Thus, an apple that is stored in a shipping cargo for a few weeks and then in the grocery store for a few months has much less nutrients to offer. For this reason, I highly encourage shopping for only the produce that is in season and picked locally. Unless you live in South America, watermelon is NOT in season in April. Wait until summer for it to have full flavor and more nutrients.
For my red recipe challenge, check out my mama's famous roasted tomato salsa. The only difference between mama's and mine, is that one is appropriate for a child's palate. My mama's recipe needs a fire extuinguisher with it; I reveal the secret for both in that recipe.
Please share your favorite red food recipe below, and remember the Food Foundation loves recipes that incorporate healthy fats to make sure we absorb all of those important nutrients and that we slow down the sugar rush of all of that delicious fructose.