Employee & Community Health

Color your way to 5 a day

7/23/2018 by Rose Prissel, MS, RDN, LD

ECH_coloryourway_widget

With fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables flooding into supermarkets and local farmers markets, it's a perfect time to practice and have fun "painting" your plate with color. 

There are thousands of health-promoting phytochemicals found in plants. Researchers are just beginning to understand how they work to improve our health. But they do know it's important to eat a wide variety of colorful fruits and veggies to reap those health benefits. 

Putting a rainbow of colors on your plate or in your lunch bag can make it easier to eat the five to nine services of fruits and vegetables recommended for every day. Painting your plate starts at the supermarket or farmers market. When shopping, look for an array of colors, choosing ones you and your family love and maybe experimenting with something new. 

Here are some ideas for fruits and veggies to help you build your healthy-eating paint box:

  • Red: Strawberries, raspberries, cherries, watermelon, apples, radishes, tomatoes, red kidney beans, red peppers (spicy or sweet), red-skinned potatoes
  • Orange: Oranges, apricots, peaches, cantaloupe, mangoes, sweet potatoes, acorn squash, pumpkin, summer squash, carrots
  • Yellow: Lemons, pineapple, golden apples, bananas, starfruit, yellow tomatoes, sweet corn, yellow peppers, summer squash, golden beets
  • Green: Kiwi fruit, green grapes, avocados, Granny Smith apples, honeydew melon, spinach, green beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, snap peas
  • Blue/purple. Blueberries, blackberries, boysenberries, black seedless grapes, plums, raisins, purple cabbage, eggplant, purple potatoes, radicchio
  • White. Grapefruit, pears, baking potatoes, onions, mushrooms, jicama, cauliflower, navy or cannelloni beans, parsnips

Fresh fruits and veggies that are in season can be easier on your food budget. And remember that frozen produce is just as nutrient-packed as fresh and often can be more affordable. 

Start your plate painting with these easy, colorful and summery recipes. 

Grilled Fruit Chunks

Cut peaches, pears, apples, pineapple or a combination of these fruits into chunks. Toss with a little canola oil, sprinkle with cinnamon and thread onto skewers. Wrap in foil and grill over low heat for 3 to 5 minutes. 

Pasta Primavera

Cook whole-grain pasta. Steam cut-up broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and green peas. Stir in chunks of fresh tomatoes and torn-up fresh basil. spoon the veggies over the pasta. Drizzle with a little light or no-calorie Italian dressing and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. 

Rose Prissel, MS, RDN, LD, is a dietitian at Mayo Clinic working in pediatric and adult nutrition, with a focus on preventive care, sports nutrition and weight management.