Top Tips to Make Eating the Rainbow Easier
- Written by Kelly Harris
- June 21, 2021
- 7 min read
It’s Pride Month and I’ve got rainbows on the brain.
Then again, I’ve got rainbows on the brain all through the year because I love helping my clients to find fun ways to ‘eat the rainbow’ and get a wide variety of nutrients and healing phytochemicals into their everyday diets.
Why do we want to ‘eat the rainbow’? Well, each colour in a fruit or vegetable indicates that it contains particular phytochemicals which have health-giving properties and nutritional benefits.
Here’s a quick lowdown on the benefits of different coloured fruits and vegetables:
Red fruits and vegetables contain lycopene and other phytonutrients which protect our hearts and reduce our risk of developing certain types of cancers. These nutrients are found in strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, cherries, apples, beets, watermelon, red grapes, tomatoes, radishes, red cabbage, red peppers and red onions.
Yellow and Orange
Yellow and orange fruits and vegetables provide us with beta-cryptoxanthin, beta-carotene (which converts to vitamin A) and vitamin C. These types of heart-healthy fruits and veggies support our nervous and immune systems, promote eye health and give us great looking skin! These nutrients are found in carrots, sweet potatoes, yellow and orange peppers, corn, squash, pumpkin, apricots, peaches, cantaloupe, tangerines, oranges, bananas, mangoes and pineapple.
Yellow-green fruits and vegetables contain lutein which is good for eye health. It can be found in pistachios, avocados, kiwi, spinach and dark leafy greens.
Green leafy cruciferous vegetables are rich in isothiocyanates and indole-3-carbinol, which supports our liver detoxification processes. Indole-3-carbinol is also anti-inflammatory and reduces our risk of developing hormone-dependent cancers. Green vegetables are a good source of vitamin K which is essential for blood clotting. Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, bok choy, arugula, watercress, kale, kohlrabi, cauliflower and collard greens.
Blue and Purple
Blue and purple food pigments are due to anthocyanins which are a group of powerful antioxidants known for being heart-healthy and lowering risks of cancers. Anthocyanins can be found in aubergines, red cabbage, blueberries, blackberries, elderberries, cranberries, blackcurrants, cherries, plums, figs and pomegranates.
So, what are the best ways to incorporate more fruit and veg into my diet?
As we all have different financial and life circumstances, I’ve included options to suit a variety of budgets. Healthy eating and education on good nutrition is something that should be accessible to everybody.
1) Frozen fruits are an easy and inexpensive way to get a variety of colours into our diets each day. Try adding a big handful of frozen strawberries into your green smoothie to make it taste sweet and delicious while giving it a dose of vitamin C and lycopene.
2) Frozen vegetables are also an easy way to get some different coloured vegetables into your diet. Especially if you’re single and you know that you won’t be able to finish eating a large quantity of fresh fruits and vegetables before they go bad. (I hate food waste!) Frozen peas, for instance, are a great source of protein as well as vitamins and minerals which support your immune health.
3) Sweet potato and squash are both rich in carotenoids and can be chopped up from fresh or found frozen in the supermarket. If you swap a bit of the frozen fruit in your smoothie for an equal amount of frozen sweet potato or squash chunks, you’ll be adding nutrients, fibre and reducing the overall sugar levels of your smoothie, all while giving it a creamier texture.
4) Tinned pumpkin is a favourite hack of mine for making pumpkin pie smoothies. Tinned pumpkin is rich in fibre and combines beautifully with cinnamon, which helps to balance blood sugar levels and nutmeg, which contains a number of powerful antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties.
5) Buy organic where possible. This can be difficult when you’re on a lower budget, but where you can buy organic or non-sprayed fruits and vegetables, your body will thank you and so will your taste buds. Not only will your liver have less toxins to process, but all the phytochemicals (the source of the beautiful rainbow array of colours in the fruits and vegetables you eat) will be stronger and more potent. The reason for this is because organic plants have to work harder to survive and end up producing a higher concentration of phytochemicals than conventionally grown plants do.
6) Eating the rainbow doesn’t stop with fruits and vegetables. Spices are wonderful additions to your daily intake of colourful foods. I recommend trying delicious anti-inflammatory golden milk made with turmeric.
7) There are lots of powdered superfoods and spices you can add to meals and smoothies which will provide a wide variety of health-giving properties. You’ll be surprised at the array of vivid colours which are found in natural spices and superfoods. For kids, stick to simple freeze-dried fruit powders (blueberry, raspberry or strawberry) which you can add into unsweetened natural yoghurt or smoothies for added flavour and natural sweetness.
8) If you’re finding yourself struggling with eating certain vegetables, you might want to start experimenting with recipes to make them more appealing to your taste preferences. For instance, if cauliflower is tastier to you with a cheese sauce, then eat it with a little bit of cheese sauce.
9) Explore new flavour combinations. Broccoli with an almond butter drizzle is a game-changer for those who have previously detested this green vegetable. The almond butter drizzle is easy to make too, simply by mixing 1 tablespoon of almond butter with 1 teaspoon of water and 1 teaspoon of tamari or soy sauce. Stir it until it comes together and drizzle over steamed or grilled broccoli.
10) Getting children to eat the rainbow can be a bit of a challenge for some parents. The best way to encourage healthy eating is by exposing little ones to healthy foods in the home on a consistent basis. In other words, choose to nourish yourself with healthy foods and your children will grow up valuing that way of eating as well.
11) Younger children can be encouraged to get used to a wide variety of fruits and vegetables by incorporating imagery of healthy eating into their play. Toddlers can create rainbow collages with pictures of healthy foods cut out from magazines. Familiarise them with the names of as many fruits and vegetables as possible. Let them “feed” healthy foods to their toys in their own role-play games. Wooden and felt toy fruits and vegetables can be bought from Ikea, Etsy and speciality toy stores. It is immensely satisfying to see your child making a salad for their toy bear’s dinner.
12) It may sound exhausting, but take your kids grocery shopping with you and challenge them to choose fruits and vegetables in as many colours as they can. Take a picture of a rainbow with you so they can check the items in the cart against the picture to make sure that they’ve got something from each colour.
13) Older children and teens can help get involved in menu planning. Task them with searching online or in cookbooks at your local library for delicious-looking recipes involving as many colourful vegetables as possible. The Ella’s Kitchen collection of cookbooks are a great place to start for younger kids and Deliciously Ella cookbooks, website and app recipes are good for older children and teens who can help with preparing the meals. They’re less likely to reject a food if they’ve invested their own time and energy into making it.
14) Invest in silicone popsicle moulds (available from Amazon and speciality kitchen shops). Leftover smoothies can be poured into the moulds and healthy popsicles can become a delicious (and secretly nutritious) iced treat for you or your kids. My favourite popsicle flavour combos are strawberry smoothie with a bit of sweet potato blended in and green smoothies with a bit of pineapple blended in for additional sweetness.
15) Smoothies are a great way of getting a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds into your diet, so whether you order a box of foolproof smoothie kits or if you have your own tried and true favourite smoothie recipe, they’re always an Honestly Good idea.
16) My last words of wisdom are: pesto pasta with peas, broccoli and baby spinach. This is a great quick to prepare mid-week supper which lets you cram lots of green vegetables into one easy meal. It is loved by kids and adults alike. Be prepared to have it requested many, many times. I like that it helps cut down on the portion of pasta and bulks it up with protein-packed peas, liver detoxing broccoli and iron-rich baby spinach.
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