When planning meals, imagine yourself as an artist, creating a colorful array of various foods.  This is one of the best ways you can provide your body with the most healthful nutrients found in nature. From thousands of health-promoting phytochemicals to essential antioxidants to necessary fiber, fruits and vegetables are perfect for having fun “painting” your plate with color. No matter what time of year, take advantage of fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables filling grocery stores and farmer’s markets. This will allow you to become a nutritional “Claude Monet,” at mealtimes.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends each of us choose at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.  When you put into practice, the “color your way to five a day,” you can feel confident you are feeding your family what they need accentuating their health today and in the future. When shopping for food, make sure the foods filling your grocery cart resemble a rainbow of color. Look for foods with vibrant, eye-catching colors such as the following:

Red – strawberries, raspberries, cherries, watermelon, apples, radishes, tomatoes, red kidney beans, red peppers, and red-skinned potatoes.

Orange – Oranges, apricots, peaches, cantaloupe, mangoes, sweet potatoes, acorn squash, pumpkin, summer squash, and carrots

Yellow – Lemons, pineapple, golden apples, bananas, starfruit, yellow tomatoes, sweet corn, yellow peppers, summer squash, and golden beets

Green – Kiwi fruit, green grapes, avocados, Granny Smith apples, honeydew melon, spinach, green beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard, kale, and snap peas

Blue/purple – Blueberries, blackberries, boysenberries, black seedless grapes, plums, raisins, purple cabbage, eggplant, purple potatoes, and radicchio

White – Grapefruit, pears, baking potatoes, onions, mushrooms, jicama, cauliflower, navy or cannelloni beans, and parsnips

To accommodate your food budget, purchase fresh fruits and vegetables when in season as they will be cheaper during those times.  And remember, frozen produce is just as nutrient-packed as fresh produce and often can be more affordable.

Here are a couple of easy recipes to help you get started “coloring your plate” today:

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.

Vegetable Pasta Primavera

Cook whole-grain pasta.  Steam cut-up broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and green peas.  Stir in chunks of fresh tomatoes and chopped fresh basil. Spoon the vegetables over the pasta. Drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil mixed with 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar and 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if desired.

Categories: DietHealth

Cheryl Mussatto

Cheryl Mussatto, MS, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in Dietetics and Nutrition from the University of Kansas and a bachelor’s degree in Dietetics and Institutional Management from Kansas State University. She is a clinical dietitian for Cotton O’Neil Clinics in Topeka and Osage City, an adjunct professor for Allen Community College, Burlingame, Ks where she teaches Basic Nutrition, and is a blog contributor for Dr. David Samadi and nutroutine.com, an online market place connecting nutrition experts with customers worldwide. She can be contacted here.

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