Colorful Eating for Good Health
by Robert Arbogast, Fitness Specialist
Have you noticed how color seems to make everything a little more interesting and enjoyable? Blue skies are nice, but add a streak of red and everyone takes a second glance. Fall is famous for the changing leaves, and a rainbow can brighten the rainiest day.
We all love color, so here's a thought. Why not bring that love of color to your dinner plate? It makes meals interesting and usually makes them healthier. When preparing your meals, seasoning and spices definitely have their place, but if you really want to make a splash, think color. Here are a few tips:
Red | Kidney beans are a virtual fat-free protein source and high in fiber. They absorb surrounding flavors in soups and sauces and look great against leafy greens in salads.
Raspberries are also high in fiber and beneficial to the digestive system. They stand out beautifully in plain yogurt or in desserts.
Green | Avocados fall into that "good fats" category you always hear about. Add it to the dark colors of your turkey burger or make your tacos look more festive.
Kale is jammed packed with vitamins C and K and beta-carotene. Soups, salads and sandwiches are all options for kale, or sauté it as a healthy green side.
Yellow and Orange | Sweet potatoes are not just for Thanksgiving. The immune-boosting vitamin A is needed year-round. Mashed or baked is a good alternative to its white cousin. Kids will enjoy them with one simple little marshmallow on top (don't go overboard) or cut and baked in crinkle shapes.
Mangos deliver a powerful punch of vitamin C. They're funny looking fruits because of their skin color and quirky shape but look stylish and chic sliced and served. Here's a quick tip for picking one that's ready to eat. Judge by the smell. Look for ones that give off a sweet aroma.
White | Bananas anyone? They are a quick digesting carb that athletes often like either before a workout or after to supplement a protein source. Use them for color and taste in plain cereals and oatmeal.
Don't fear Tofu. I know a few people just stopped reading, but hear me out on this one. Tofu is a low-fat, inexpensive protein source. It can be added to almost anything: soups, stir fry chili or even pasta sauce. For those trying it for the first time, I would recommend the firm texture variety.
Purple | Eggplant is very low in calories, but loaded with heart healthy antioxidants. Cut in strips with other vegetables on a soft tortilla shell. Add the avocado mentioned earlier and now your soft tacos are bursting with color.
Plums, like most fruits, have high fiber content and also are very high in antioxidants. They may also reduce post workout muscle damage and speed recovery. They're tasty treats by themselves and very versatile in their dried form. Throw them in salads or mix them in with raw nuts and seeds for a healthy, homemade trail mix.
Two final thoughts on color. First, in general, the more colors you can add the better. Color is a sign of a healthy, whole food and should be reached for more often than the colorless, processed alternatives. Second, there are no wrong answers. It's your meal and you're the chef, so get creative!