Taste The Rainbow
As a child I believed that taste the rainbow meant eating those sugar filled colorful skittles. Those were some fun times grabbing a bag of that delicious candy. Little did I know that candy had zero health benefits and was jammed packed with fake dyes and flavors.
“So there's not real strawberries in the red ones???”
I once had a Naturopathic doctor share with me the importance of choosing the most colorful vegetables for my health. The more color means higher amounts of those amazing antioxidants that our body needs to fight off infections, illnesses, diseases and cancer. This is something that I had never thought about. I had no clue that all these healthy veggies each had their own nutrient profile or that some vegetables have higher amounts of certain vitamins and minerals then the next vegetable.
This was also a time in my life when I needed to make some healthier changes in my nutrition. For the first time my lab results were not the best. I was feeling constant fatigue, adult acne, unexplained rashes, hair loss and sick often. It seemed like the older I got, the more I added to my list of issues. Apart of me accepted that this is what “getting old” looks like. The big question I had was, "can nutrition really reverse my health that much??”
As I started shopping for my colorful produce, I also began to see the beauty of them. The vibrant purple of cabbage or purple onions. Orange bells peppers and the dark leafy greens. I even discovered new vegetables I had never heard of like blue potatoes and rainbow carrots. I had no clue that carrots were anything more then orange! This variety of color spiked my artistic interest in creating colorful rainbow dishes. I couldn't help to think, what is giving my food these vibrant colors? I would later learn in school that it's the plant's
What are phyto-chemicals and how are they going to improve my health?
The word “phyto” means “plant” in Greek. Phyto-chemicals is what creates the plant's appearance, taste and smell. It is the plant's unique nutrient profile. Think of them as the super powers of the plant. Who thought that plants could be Super Heroes!
Meet a few of these Super Heros!
Carotenoids- Gives the vibrant colors of orange, red, yellow and green. Super Power is boosting the immune system and creating healthy hearts. Cancer does not like to be near the carotenoids.
Anthocyanins- Gives veggies a deep blue, purple and black color. Super Power is heart healthy, the beauty of healthy aging, good for memory and fights cancer.
Sulfides- Is are usually white and this guy is a bit stinky! Do not let the stink get to you because sulfides are mighty. They are often found in onions and garlic. Super Power is decrease the bad cholesterol, heart healthy and fight colds.
This is only to name a few of the super hero phyto-chemicals out there!
So did these super heroes work their magical powers for me? At first I was not sure but a follow up with the doctor showed that my labs had improved! I was also getting so many compliments on how great my skin looked.
This was ten years ago and the beginning of my health journey. I was inspired to learn more about nutrition. I was fascinated in how eating more natural plant food improves my health. Since then I have been a believer in using food as my first approach to medicine.
This fascination of rainbow foods inspired me to learn more about cooking. At the time I often said, “I have no clue how to cook unless it comes from a box..” Yes, my nutrition had not been good leading up to this moment. It is a process getting off processed foods! At first my cooking skills was basic. Salt and pepper was my go to.. and this can get pretty boring. The more I began to cook, I started introducing new flavors to my food such as garlic and fresh herbs. Some people may think that eating healthy is boring and bland. It may even feel like you lost your buffet of yummy food but eating healthy has it's own endless buffet of foods!
Discover some of my favorite go to herbs and spices when cooking.
Turmeric (great for inflammation)
Sea Salt or Pink Himalayan Salt
I keep these on my spice rack in the kitchen and grow my own herbs. You too can try growing your own fresh herbs!
Mix and Match Flavor Combinations
When I use herbs and spices I love trying new combinations. Try mixing two herbs you have never tried before. Explore different flavors on various vegetables and don't forget grains need lots of added flavor too. There are endless combinations for spice up your food.
Today I am still exploring new flavors and cooking methods.
Here are some simple meal ideas to increase colorful plant foods into your diet.
Soup- I choose up to 7 vegetables or more. I mean there is no rule on how many vegetables and herbs you can include in your soup!
Salad- Add in as many vegetables and greens as you want. Salads are a fun way to showcase your rainbow food and explore a variety of greens.
Skewers- At your next BBQ, place veggies on skewers and line up the rainbow colors. For example try cherry tomatoes, orange bell pepper, yellow squash, green bell pepper, blue potatoes and purple onion!
Side dish to your protein- When you cook your chicken, turkey, beans or fish, add in a few extra vegetables rather then having just one. Try a vegetable medley like green beans, red potatoes, garlic, and squash.
Garlic- The Sulfide super hero! I personally eat garlic with most of my meals. It adds so much flavor to your dishes and it is considered a super food! Add minced garlic to a vegetable stir fry or add smashed garlic to a homemade dip like guacamole!
Don't forget to add in your herbs and spices!
The biggest lesson I learned was it's not all about loosing weight and counting calories, but seeing the beauty and simplicity in eating for your health. In conclusion I hope you find that eating plant food is not just the healthy food. I hope it inspires you to have fun, appreciate nature, be creative, taste the flavors and breathe in the aromas. Now you know that there are many super hero phyto-chemicals that created your food.
“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.” Ann Wigmore