Marks Daily Apple
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9 Jan

Color Me Healthy: 8 Easy Ways to Add More Color to Your Diet

rainbowIf the fable is right and you are what you eat, then is it really any wonder that a plate filled with bland, sludgy stew will make you feel…uhhh…bland and sludgy yourself?

Instead, liven up your diet with vibrantly-hued foods, which generally tout more nutrients per pound than their paler counterparts. For example, iceberg lettuce is really nothing more than water with a small amount of fiber, whereas spinach, which boasts darker, richer green leaves, is an excellent source of iron and folate.

To ensure your meeting your quota of full-color foods, try these eight easy tricks to add more color into your daily diet.

* Break out of your breakfast rut—and stave off the morning munchies—by opting for an omelet filled with red and green peppers, onions and spinach and turn up the heat with a spicy tomato salsa.

* Sub out your daily mocha for a vegetable juice made with carrots, cucumber, beets, celery, apple, pear and rhubarb (talk about packing it in!). Even though you are losing some of the fiber benefits associated with eating the whole vegetable, it’s still more nutritious (and cheaper!) than a trip to your local coffee shop!

* Add a cup of vegetable soup—either as a meal or a savory snack. It’s an easy—and low calorie way—to pack more beta-carotene-infused carrots, peas, onions (which although pale, are a good source of chromium, vitamin C and numerous flavonoids) and other nutrient-rich veggies in to your diet.

* Take a cue from Crayola and pack as many colors as you can in one carton by taking a run-of-the-mill spinach salad and adding rich radicchio, red and green bell peppers, tomatoes, carrots, sliced strawberries and a handful of blueberries. Top with raspberry vinaigrette for the full berry experience!

* Fortify a good cut of fish by topping it off with a mango salsa made with ½ cup of chopped mango, ½ cup of chopped onion, ½ cup of chopped pineapple, a tablespoon of lime juice and ½ cup of fresh cilantro.

* Jonesing for a slice of pizza? Do the next best (or even better) thing by thinly slicing an eggplant lengthwise, broiling on one side, flipping and topping the uncooked side with marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, green and red peppers, onions and mushrooms. Add garlic salt, pepper and oregano to taste.

* Power up some plain ol’ poultry by topping broiled filets with bell pepper rings and diced tomatoes or take thin slices, fill with jalapeno peppers and pepperjack cheese, roll up securing with toothpicks, bake and top with salsa.

* Hot weather have you jonesing for ice cream? In a blender, mix sliced strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, a ¼ cup of orange juice and ¾ cup of yogurt. Pour into paper cups, freeze for three hours and enjoy!

At the end of the day, the changes don’t necessarily need to be dramatic to make a difference. Switching white potatoes for sweet potatoes, for example, will not only change up the flavor but will also punch up the amount of color in your diet. In addition, you don’t need to be a chef to add a few slices of tomato to your sandwich, a slice of red onion to your tuna salad, or even throw a few sliced raw veggies into a baggie!

ladnlins Flickr Photo (CC)

Further Reading:

10 Awesome Carbs

Antioxidants: Fighting the Good Fight

Could Cocoa Improve Cognition?

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  1. I would disagree with the veggie juice vs Starbucks argument on one condition…

    Starbucks is expensive, but juicing costs a fortune! My coworker has a juicer and whenever I use it I find myself spending upwards of $15 in veggies to get enough thick juice for a couple drinks. Admittedly I buy organic which saddens my bank account in the first place. But juicing is no cheap alternative.

    McFly wrote on January 9th, 2008
  2. These are good suggestions and that picture is gorgeous!

    Elastic Waist wrote on January 9th, 2008
  3. WHAT A PICTURE OF “HEALTH”-I LOVE IT!!!!

    Donna wrote on January 9th, 2008
  4. Great read. I have a hard time with buying fruits & vegetables for the reason that many of them go bad so quickly. And so I feel like it’s not wise to stock up on them when they rot so fast. I feel like I have to eat them all to quickly, therefore I end up going to the store more than I truly can afford to. A suggestion for Mark would be perhaps a future article with some tips on just this type of situation. I think it would help because I know I’m not the only one who could use more vegetables in their diet, but doesn’t quite know how to go about stocking up and making them last.

    Jerry wrote on January 9th, 2008
  5. Great suggestion, Jerry. We love taking reader recommendations for MDA posts. I will add it to our list. Thanks again!

    Aaron wrote on January 9th, 2008
  6. Jerry: i have/had the same problem. My solution – frozen vegetables. I’m sure I’m losing out on some nutrition, but it certainly beats not eating any / having to shop every day.

    showbuzz wrote on January 10th, 2008
  7. Hi showbuzz, yes I buy frozen vegetables also. They are excellent and last a long time. I guess I just feel frustrated and overwhelmed at times because I’m on a limited budget right now, and don’t feel like I can buy all the right foods, especially those that don’t have a long shelf life. I’m looking forward to some tips from Mark. And thanks for your suggestion as well, I fully agree with you.

    Jerry wrote on January 10th, 2008
  8. You forgot my favorite suggestion – replace the potatoes, pasta, rice, bread, or other nutritionally bereft foods on your plate with an extra serving of veggies. Last night we had pork chops with a giant mixed green salad and braised brussels sprouts. Tonight we’re having lamb, a giant salad, and roasted red peppers.

    Jerry – is it possible for you to go to the store more often and buy less each time? That’s the best way to get fresh veggies daily. If you can’t do that, buy a mixture of greens and “solid” veggies. Greens (and delicate solids like zucchini, broccoli, cucumbers) go bad faster, so eat them for the first couple of nights, then eat the solids (carrots, winter squash, parsnips, cauliflower) later in the week. You may have to experiment a bit to learn the relative shelf lives of your food, but it does come in time. And I hope Mark and Aaron will add some advice about how to store them properly – for example, you can keep greens longer if you rinse them and put them in a plastic bag with a paper towel.

    Migraineur wrote on January 10th, 2008

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