I am definitely someone who LOVES color. The more color I come across, the brighter and happier my day
I do not enjoy spending a whole lot of time in the kitchen. Our lives are busy with never ending to do lists and demands. Unfortunately, I am not the kind of person who finds cooking relaxing but instead it was always just another item on my list that I needed to get done. I LOVE food just not so much preparing it. Can you relate?
One of the biggest things that changed my view on making food and how I eat was the simple thought of ‘Eating the Rainbow’. Just the thought of it brings up feelings of joy and excitement in me.
I don’t know about you, but rainbows make me super happy and fill me with feeling of hope, happiness and the feeling that everything is going to be ok. They can turn dark, rainy days into something beautiful.
What is meant by eating the rainbow is simply eating foods rich in a variety of color. Unfortunately, I don’t mean colorful food such as M&M’s. I’m talking about colorful, whole foods found in nature.
Designing my meals around eating the rainbow has been one of the most enjoyable and creative things I have done in changing the way I eat and how I look at food. It has definitely increased my excitement and enjoyment of spending time in the kitchen, and my family loves it too. Consuming a variety of color can have a phenomenal impact on our health and wellness so let’s take a closer look.
We can classify all foods found in nature into 6 color categories:
So why is it Important to Eat Colorful Foods?
Often when meal prepping and planning, we are taught to look at our macronutrient ratio, this being our ration of carbs, proteins and fat. But how often are we told to look at our micronutrient ratio – the ratio of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients?
Whole foods rich in color contain compounds called Phytonutrients or Phytochemicals. These incredible little compounds are what gives plants their color. One of the biggest role’s phytonutrients play is protecting plants from enemies in nature such as bugs, bacteria and disease as well as outside factors like wind, rain, etc. You could say that Phytonutrients are the plants immune system. The really great thing is that when we eat these plant foods packed with phytonutrients, we receive the same protective benefits. How cool is that?
There are thousands of different phytochemicals out here, each with their own protective benefit therefore it is important for us to consume a variety of plant sources in order to reap multiple benefits.
How do Phytonutrients Boost our Health?
The phytonutrients that make up certain colors have been shown to benefit overall health but also specific body systems:
- Red foods support our Immune system
- Orange foods are associated with Reproductive system
- Yellow foods are associated improve our Digestive system
- Green foods support our Cardiovascular system
- Blue/Black/Purple foods improves Brain health and cognitive function
- White/tan/brown foods benefits our Overall health
Because each plant contains its own unique combination of phytonutrients, it is important to vary your choices within a specific group to ensure you are getting a wide variety of protective nutrients. If you generally eat romaine lettuce, try a handful of spinach instead. If you eat a lot of tomatoes, try swopping it out with red bell peppers. Instead of eating orange carrots, purchase rainbow carrots.
5 Simple ways to increase your Phytonutrient Intake
By making small changes to your daily diet it is possible to incorporate a ton of phytonutrients with minimal effort. Here are some examples of quick and easy ways to do this:
1. Make smoothies
Everybody loves a good smoothie and with such a variety of possible combinations, you will never get bored. Try making a smoothie with at least 1 ingredient from each color category
- Green – Spinach, Kale, Arugula
- Red – Strawberries, Raspberries, beet
- Orange – Turmeric, Mango, carrot
- Yellow – Banana, ginger, pineapple, bee pollen
- Blue/Black/Purple – Blue/Blackberries, chia seeds, concord grapes
- W/B/T – Nut milk, hemp & flax seeds
2. Get creative with salads
Instead of the boring old butter lettuce, tomato and cucumber salad, get creative and add the rainbow. Use whatever you have in your fridge and add a mix of leafy greens, veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds and spices. Experiment with whatever produce you have in your fridge and make your own unique rainbow salad. Dress it with a simple healthy dressing such as lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, unfiltered olive oil or coconut aminos. YUM!!!
3. Stir Fry’s
Asian cuisine is one of my favorites. It’s generally super quick to make and packed with flavor. The great thing about stir fries is you can slice up a massive variety of colorful veggies in one dish. Add your preferred Asian flavor sauce and some fresh herbs and spices (lemongrass, ginger, chili, etc.) and you are good to go.
4. Switch out your coffee
Instead of having a second cup of coffee in the morning opt for a matcha latte with ginger and cinnamon or try golden milk. You can find many recipes online and most of us already have the simple ingredients for this drink in our spice rack. By swopping out 1 cup of coffee for one of these alternatives you get about 3-4 different color categories just in 1 yummy drink. How simple
5. Make the most of herbs and spices
Even regular old herbs and spices that we have in our cupboard or garden are packed with phytonutrients. Whatever you are cooking ask yourself “What can I add to make this dish even healthier?” and the answer is often as simple as adding natural spices such as a hint of cinnamon, turmeric, oregano, basil or even paprika.
Cooking food doesn’t have to be just another chore. Get creative in your kitchen, find ways to make it fun. By thinking of the benefit each ingredient is providing your body, every meal becomes a time of gratitude and appreciation.
If you would like more information on how phytonutrients can benefit our overall health or you would like help to incorporate more color into your diet, reach out to me and together we can heal your body and transform your life through color.