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Eat a Rainbow – Go Neutral

Welcome to the final week of our, “Eat a Rainbow” series, the WHITE and BROWN group.

This is the smallest and least exciting group, but don’t let this group’s lack of pizazz fool you. What these foods lack in color, they make up for in nutrition.

Fiber – Many of the foods in this group are high in fiber content, which you already know is important in maintaining a healthy digestive system, including reducing the risk of some cancers.

Quercetin – Known to have anti-inflammatory and antihistamine effects, quercetin has been shown to lower blood pressure and help prevent heart disease.

Allicin – Allicin is a phytochemical found in garlic, leeks, and onions. Allicin is a powerful immune system booster due to its antimicrobial effects. Allicin is activated when the chopping/cutting process exposes the cells of garlic, onion, or leek to oxygen.

Polyphenols – Polyphenols found in dark brown foods like tea or chocolate have been shown to protect the body from heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and cancer. They may also stimulate bowel movement and support the digestive process.

Foods in the WHITE and BROWN group include:

White and brown foods can help protect against bacterial, fungal, and viral infections, help prevent heart disease, and some cancers, as well as support healthy digestion. That makes them an important part of an “Eat the Rainbow” plan.

Remember, as with the other colorful fruits and vegetables mentioned in this series, foods in this group can interact with some medications or illnesses, so it is best to talk to your pharmacist or a medical nutritionist about adding any new foods to your diet.

Here are a few recipes to help you add more white/brown foods to your daily routine:

Basic Cauliflower Rice

Kale Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

If you need help adding more colorful fruits and vegetables to your daily diet or if you want to develop better nutritional habits, my nutritional coaching plan can help. Fill out the contact form below so we can set up a time to talk and create your nutritional plan.

 


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Eat a Rainbow – Be Blue

Welcome to week 5 of our series, Eat a Rainbow. So far we have talked about the health benefits of eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables including: GREEN, RED, and YELLOW/ORANGE.

This week we are talking about foods in the BLUE and PURPLE category.

The fruits and vegetables in this group contain a variety of nutrients important for maintaining a healthy mind and body.

Anthocyanins are antioxidants. Anthocyanins can pass through the blood-brain barrier and therefore can improve brain functions like learning and memory. Anthocyanins are also known to help improve balance, as well as reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and cancer. They can also minimize skin damage due to sun exposure. Berries, grapes, eggplant, and purple cabbage are good sources of anthocyanins.

Ellagic Acid, found in berries, is a phytonutrient that may minimize the effect of estrogen on the growth breast cancer cells.

Resveratrol is an antioxidant and phytonutrient. Resveratrol’s anti-inflammatory properties help reduce the build up of plaque in the blood vessels, known as atherosclerosis, which can lower the risk of heart attack and stroke. Resveratrol also helps prevent some cancers. Like anthocyanins, resveratrol can cross the blood-brain barrier making it an important nutrient for protection against Alzheimer’s and dementia. Good sources of resveratrol include: blueberries, cranberries, red/purple grapes, red wine, and raw cocoa.

The BLUE/PURPLE group is quite possibly the most fun and delicious group, with most of the selections being fruits like grapes (aka wine) and blueberries. Thankfully the foods in this group also pack a solid nutritional punch. In combination with foods from the other color groups, blue/purple foods can help round out a healthy diet.

Try these recipes to add more BLUE/PURPLE foods to your daily diet:

Ratatouille
Berry Delicious Avocado Toast


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Eat a Rainbow – Here Comes the Sun

This is week 4 in our series, Improve Your Health,Eat a Rainbow. So far we have looked at the GREEN and RED groups. This week we are exploring the YELLOW and ORANGE foods.

Foods in the orange/yellow group contain Vitamin C, alpha-carotene, and the phytonutrient, hesperidin.

Vitamin C is important for tissue regeneration, decreasing cholesterol and triglycerides, and strengthening the immune system. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and can help prevent cancer. Vitamin C also helps the body absorb iron.

Alpha-carotene is a member of the carotenoid family, that also includes beta-carotene. Carotenoids are antioxidants that reduce free radical damage to tissues that can lead to cancer and heart disease. In addition, the body converts alpha and beta carotene to Vitamin A. Vitamin A supports healthy skin, eyes, and immune system.

Hesperidin, found in citrus fruits, is a flavonoid with anti inflammatory properties and can improve circulation.

Orange and yellow foods can boost your immune system, protect against cancer and heart disease, and keep your skin and eyes healthy and beautiful. Adding 1 or 2 orange/yellow fruits or vegetables to your daily diet can help you reach your goal of 5-7 servings per day.

Try these recipes to add more orange and yellow foods to your diet:

Butternut Squash Lasagna

Pineapple Papaya Salsa

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Butternut Squash Lasagna

Lasagna is one of my favorite comfort foods. Unfortunately, like most comfort foods it is loaded with fat and processed carbohydrates. Not the best option if you’re trying to be healthy.

This lasagna recipe uses butternut squash in place of traditional lasagna noodles, for a healthier take on this old favorite. Make this recipe your own by changing up the vegetables, spices, or using dairy free cheese.

Butternut Squash Lasagna

Ingredients:
  • 2 pounds butternut squash, seeded, peeled, and sliced into thin rounds
  • 8 ounces frozen spinach, thawed, chopped, and drained
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup zucchini, chopped
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese or low fat cottage cheese
  • 32 ounces jarred pasta sauce or 4 cups Rustic Marinara Sauce*
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, divided
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Instructions:
  • Peel butternut squash and cut into thin slices using a sharp knife or mandolin.
  • Heat olive oil in a heavy sauté pan, add onion and garlic and sauté until translucent. Add carrots, zucchini, and mushrooms and cook until vegetables a soft, stir often to prevent burning. Set aside to cool.
  • In a large bowl, combine ricotta cheese, spinach, basil, oregano, salt, pepper and cinnamon. Mix well.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Lightly oil a 9×13 baking pan.
  • Spread 1/2 cup pasta sauce on the bottom of the pan.
  • Begin layering lasagna: butternut squash slices, 1/3 sautéed vegetables, 1/3 cheese/ spinach mixture, 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, 1 cup pasta sauce. Repeat layering 2 more times.
  • Cover with a lightly oiled sheet of foil.
  • Bake covered for 45 minutes.
  • Remove foil and bake an additional 15-20 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before cutting.

Serves 6-8 people

Leftovers can be frozen.

*To prevent the lasagna from being too lumpy, purée marinara sauce until smooth.


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Rustic Marinara Sauce

Whether it’s whole wheat spaghetti, rice penne, shirataki noodles, or spiralized zucchini almost everyone loves a bowl of “pasta” topped with tomato sauce. Sadly, most store bought sauces are full of sugar and preservatives. But, why buy from the store when making your own tomato sauce is quick and simple. This Rustic Marinara sauce is delicious, and it only takes about 1 hour to make. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week and frozen for 3-4 months.

I love this recipe because it is hearty and full of vegetables. Roasting the vegetables, rather than cooking them down in a kettle, adds a caramelized flavor that sets this sauce apart.

No matter what you put them on, homemade tomato sauces are full of nutrition. Tomatoes contain lycopene, beta carotene, vitamin C, potassium, and folate among other vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Cooking tomatoes makes lycopene more available to the body, so enjoying a homemade tomato sauce is a great way to get this nutrient into your diet.

Rustic Marinara Sauce

Ingredients:
  • 2 pounds cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 pound zucchini, chopped
  • 1/2 pound yellow squash, chopped*
  • 1 cup mushrooms
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine or water, if desired
Instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Combine tomatoes, zucchini, squash, mushrooms, onion, garlic and basil in a large bowl. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  • Place all ingredients on a lightly oiled baking sheet.
  • Roast vegetables in the oven for 10 minutes, stir and roast and additional 10-15 minutes until vegetables are soft and caramelized.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15-20 minutes.
  • Place 1/2 of the vegetables in a food processor or power blender and process until smooth.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of wine or water to mixture and pulse to combine.
  • Remove to a bowl and add the remaining vegetables to the sauce and stir to combine.
  • Use over pasta, spaghetti squash, spiralized vegetables or on top of bruschetta.
  • Store extra sauce in the refrigerator or freezer.

This recipe produces a chunky sauce, so if you like a smoother sauce simply purée all of the roasted vegetables to your preferred consistency.

*If you are not a fan of yellow squash, try adding 3/4 cup of chopped carrot instead. Actually, feel free to experiment with any vegetables of your choice. I like spinach and eggplant in this recipe as well.


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Eat a Rainbow – Go Green

Last week I introduced you to the idea of “Eating a Rainbow“. As a brief review, eating the rainbow means consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables from 5 different color groups to ensure you get all of the vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients you need to keep you healthy.

This week we are exploring the GREEN group of fruits and vegetables.

Green fruits and veggies are loaded with health enhancing compounds including:

  • Lutein-an antioxidant that helps reduce inflammation, fight cancer, and protect the eye from damage from the sun, blue light, cataracts, and macular degeneration
  • Folate-also known as vitamin B-9, an important factor in red blood cell formation, health cell development, treating depression, and preventing birth defects
  • Vitamin K-a vitamin necessary in the clotting of blood
  • Isothiocyanate-a group of phytonutrients that help fight the effects of carcinogens, cancer causing agents
  • Chlorophyll-a powerful antioxidant
  • Insoluble Fiber-helps support a healthy digestive system

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 green fruits and veggies are safe for you to include in your diet.

Fruits and vegetables in the green color group can help prevent cancer, reduce inflammation in the body, support healthy digestion, promote eye health, and boost the immune system. They are a delicious addition to your daily diet and add 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 green to your diet:

Bok Choy and Radish Coleslaw

Brussels Sprout, Kale, and Mango Salad


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Ratatouille

Ratatouille

Ingredients:
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cups eggplant, chopped
  • 1-1/4 cups Roma tomatoes, halved
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut length-wise and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon pink salt
  • Ground pepper to taste
  • Instructions:
    • Heat olive oil over medium-high in a large sauté pan.
    • Sauté onion, garlic, and bay leaf until translucent. Stirring occasionally to avoid sticking.
    • Add eggplant and continue cooking 8-10 minutes until eggplant is soft.
    • Reduce heat to medium and add tomatoes, zucchini, bell pepper, and salt.
    • Cook an additional 5 minutes or until vegetables are soft.
    • Remove from heat, add basil, and pepper to taste.

    Serve Ratatouille alone or over steamed rice, eggs, or tofu.


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    Pineapple and Papaya Salsa

    Salsa is a fun and delicious way to add fruits and vegetables to your diet. Whether they are made with tomatoes, peppers, or tropical fruits like the recipe today, salsa can be eaten alone, with tortilla chips (in moderation of course), or used to garnish fish, meat, tofu, or eggs.

    This pineapple and papaya salsa is loaded with beta-carotene, vitamin C, and enzymes that can help support and improve digestion.

    Pineapple and Papaya Salsa

    Ingredients:
    • 2 cups pineapple, cut into 1/2″ chunks
    • 2 cups papaya*, cut into 1/2″ chunks
    • 1/2 medium red onion, chopped
    • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
    • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
    • 2 tablespoons pepitas
    • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon lime zest
    • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • Instructions:
    • Combine all ingredients in a nonmetal bowl and mix well.
    • Cover and place in refrigerator for 4-6 hours to allow flavors to mingle.

    Serving size= 2 Tablespoons

    Serve over chicken, pork tenderloin, grilled tofu, or a green salad in place of dressing.

    * If papaya is unavailable try mangos. Yum!


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    Berry Delicious Avocado Toast

    Sweet berries and creamy avocado come together on crunchy toast for this breakfast favorite! Oh yeah, and it is nutritious! The avocado provides healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, fiber, and potassium, while the berries supply antioxidants, vitamin C, and manganese.

    Berry Delicious Avocado Toast

    Ingredients:
    • 2 slices multigrain bread or gluten free bread
    • 1 large avocado, ripened
    • 1/3 cup blueberries, rinsed
    • 1/3 cup strawberries, rinse and quartered
    • Cinnamon, to taste
    Instructions:
    • Scoop avocado into a small bowl and mash with a fork until smooth.
    • Gently fold in blueberries and strawberries.
    • Toast the bread in a toaster or in a skillet*
    • Top each slice of toast with 1/2 of the avocado mixture and sprinkle with cinnamon if desired.

    Serves 2

    *If you do not have a toaster, you can toast the bread in a skillet: brush both sides lightly with butter, place in a skillet preheated over medium heat, grill until lightly browned then flip over and repeat on the other side.

    This toast is great alone and makes a terrific side dish to a green salad or eggs.

    ENJOY!

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    Watermelon Quinoa Salad

    Nutty red quinoa and sweet, crunchy watermelon combine in this unique and delicious summer salad.

    Watermelon Quinoa Salad

    Ingredients:
      3/4 cup red quinoa
      1-1/2 cup water
      1-1/2 cup watermelon, seeded and cubed
      2/3 cup flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
      2 scallions, sliced
      1/3 cup feta, crumbled
      2 tablespoons lemon juice
      1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
      2 teaspoons lemon zest
      Salt, to taste
    Instructions:
    • Rinse and drain quinoa.
    • In a sauce pan, bring water to a boil, add quinoa and cook for 20 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes.
    • Fluff quinoa with a fork and set aside to cool.
    • Once quinoa cools, mix in watermelon, parsley, scallions, lemon zest, lemon juice, and olive oil.
    • Toss to coat and salt to taste.
    • Fold in feta cheese.

    Serves 4