As March comes roaring in, let’s look at winter’s glorious choices of fruits and vegetables and plan to E.A.T. R.I.G.H.T.!
Eat the rainbow! Not only do foods of varying colors pack a wealth of nutrition, they also look ever so enticing on the plate!
• Red fruits (think cranberries, grapes) and vegetables (think beets, red peppers, tomatoes) are high in the anti-oxidants which help fight heart disease, cancer and age-related memory loss.
• Orange and yellow fruits such as citrus and vegetables (sweet potatoes, squash, carrots) are high in beta-carotene for healthy skin and eyes, Vitamins A and C and anti-oxidants.
• Green leafy vegetables (think kale, spinach, cabbage, Brussels sprouts) – the darker the green the better – broccoli, bok choy, avocados, and snow peas. They are high in fiber and most are rich in folic acid, vitamins A, C and K and potassium.
• Blue and purple fruits (grapes, raisins) and vegetables (purple cabbage, blue potatoes, black beans) are high in fiber, anti-oxidants and many important trace elements.
• White and tan fruits (pears, dates) and vegetables (garlic, ginger, mushrooms, shallots, onions, turnips) add spice, phytochemicals and anti-oxidants to any meal. Cauliflower is rich in vitamins C, K, and folate, and is one of the cruciferous vegetables that reduce the risk of many cancers.
• Brown grains, seeds, legumes (beans, lentils, split peas) and nuts are high in fiber, zinc, iron, folic acid, minerals, healthy fats and B-vitamins.
Avoid processed foods. Take advantage of your time at home to multi-task by making your own soups and stocks and steaming some fresh vegetables while you prepare the main course (note that micro-waving removes many valuable vitamins). Cook larger portions than you need and freeze the extras in individual portions to reheat for lunch or to thaw quickly when you’re in a hurry to get dinner on the table.
Take a list with you when you shop – with a mind to whole meals containing those fresh fruits and vegetables of varying colors as well as whole grains.
Read package labels carefully.