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Eat a Rainbow – See Red

Last week we talked about adding GREEN fruits and vegetables to your diet as a means of obtaining vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients necessary for good health.

This week in our “Eat a Rainbow” series, we are talking about the RED group. The red group also includes pink fruits and vegetables, like pink grapefruit and watermelon. Red/pink fruits and vegetables contain the antioxidants: anthocyanin, lycopene and beta carotene as well as vitamin C. Nutrients that have a variety of benefits to our health and appearance :

  • Anthocyanins: Anthocyanins are part of the group of antioxidants called, flavonoids. These powerful antioxidants are thought to help prevent cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, vision loss, neurological disorders (like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and memory loss), as well as improve immune function and energy levels.
  • Lycopene: Lycopene is another powerful antioxidant, hailing from the carotenoid family. It can help prevent or slow the progression of certain cancers such as: prostate, breast, and lung cancers, as well as help protect against heart disease, neurological impairment, cataracts, and sunburn.
  • Beta carotene: Beta carotene is another antioxidant from the carotenoid family. It provides many of the same benefits of lycopene and can also help improve the health and appearance of the skin.
  • Vitamin C: Vitamin C is most well known for its ability to boost the immune system and help ward off colds and flus. But, vitamin C is also an antioxidant that can help prevent certain cancers, heart disease, and autoimmune diseases. In addition, vitamin C helps promote healthy skin by slowing the aging process and supporting collagen production.

It is important to remember that some vitamins, minerals, and other compounds found in these fruits and vegetables can interfere with certain medical conditions and medications, so it is best to talk to your medical professional about which red fruits and veggies are safe for you to include in your diet.

Fruits and vegetables in the red color group can help prevent cancer, reduce the risk of heart disease, support eye health, boost the immune system and promote healthy, youthful skin. They are a delicious addition to your daily diet and adding 1-2 servings per day can help ensure you meet the minimum daily requirement for 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

Check out these recipes designed to help you add more RED to your diet:

Rustic Marinara Sauce

Watermelon Quinoa Salad


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Strawberry Caprese Salad Skewers

Strawberries are one of my favorite things about summer. As a child I picked strawberries to earn spending money, I think I ate more than I picked, but fortunately we were not charged for eating the profits.

There is something about the strawberry’s sweetness and slight tanginess that appeals to me and I try to make good use of them in my summer recipes.

The great thing about strawberries is that not only are they delicious, but they are packed with nutrients as well! Strawberries are loaded with antioxidants. Antioxidants help prevent damage to the body’s cells and can reduce the risk of heart disease, improve cognitive function (aka improve memory), protect the eyes from diseases like macular degeneration and cataracts, and even help prevent cancer. Strawberries also contain high levels of Vitamin C which supports immune system function. In addition, strawberries contain potassium and magnesium which can aid in lowing blood pressure.

One of my favorite summer strawberry recipes is Strawberry Caprese Salad Skewers. Creamy mozzarella combines with sweet strawberries, tangy tomatoes and crisp basil topped with a sweet tang of balsamic vinegar. This is a fun delicious recipe that makes a terrific appetizer or side dish for a picnic or summer potluck.

Strawberry Caprese Salad Skewers

  • Ingredients:
  • Marinade:
    • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar, plain or strawberry infused
      2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
      Salt and pepper to taste

    Skewers:

    • 8 bamboo skewers, 6-8″ long
    • 24 ciliegine mozzarella balls
    • 24 cherry tomatoes, washed and dried
    • 16 strawberries, washed, dried and halved
    • 2 large bunches sweet basil, enough for 24 leaves, washed and dried
    • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    Instructions:
      Whisk together balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a medium sized bowl.
      Add mozzarella balls and marinade in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
      Wash and dry tomatoes, strawberries, and basil.
      To make skewers, slide 1 strawberry half to the end of the skewer followed by 1 basil leaf, 1 mozzarella ball, and finally 1 tomato, repeat 2 more times and finish with an additional half strawberry . Repeat the process for all 8 skewers.
      To serve, arrange skewers on a serving tray and drizzle with additional balsamic vinegar.

    If you do not want to go to the trouble of making skewers, combine marinade, mozzarella, tomatoes, strawberries, and 1/3 cup thinly sliced basil leaves in a bowl and gently mix. Serve over spinach or kale.

    ENJOY!