Eating from the “Rainbow” is without a doubt one of the simplest and most tasty ways to ensure good health. There is nothing more visually satisfying than sitting down to a beautiful rainbow plate of food. And if you listen closely at your next “rainbow meal” you might even hear the cells in your body sending out a big cheer in anticipation of soaking up the colorful nutrients that are about to enter your body and support their healing and growth.
Here’s a brief overview of the healing powers of different colored foods, followed by my current favorite “rainbow plate” meal.
Deep red or bright pink fruits and veggies like beets, red cabbage, tomatoes and radishes contain the powerful antioxidant lycopene, which may help to combat heart disease and some cancers.
Green veggies like asparagus, green beans, broccoli and spinach contain the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, important antioxidants that protect your cells from oxidative damage. The many phyto-chemicals in green veggies are being studied for their role in fighting cancer.
Orange and yellow fruits and veggies such as sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, carrots and yellow squash, provide a top way to get beta-carotene into your diet, which greatly benefits eye health, and enhances the immune system.
Blue and purple fruits and veggies like blueberries, eggplants, plums and grapes add flavonoids, phytochemicals, and antioxidants to the daily diet. The pigment anthocyanin is what brings the blue color to the vegetables and fruits in this category, and is being studied for its role in preventing cancer, stroke and heart disease.
White foods like onions, garlic, chives, scallions and leeks contain allicin, which seems to help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and support immunity.
Sweet Potato Quinoa Rainbow Salad
Compliments of Mekare Fiske
1. Put a sweet potato or two or three (depending on how many you are serving) into the oven at approx 375 degrees. These will need to cook for about an hour depending on the size. I frequently cook in my counter-top toaster/bake oven so as not to heat up the whole house with the regular oven.
2. About 1/2 hour after you’ve started the sweet potato baking, add some quinoa to water (2 to 1 ratio of water to grain - and make extra for leftovers if you like!), bring to a boil, then turn heat down to simmer for approx 20 mins.When quinoa is cooked, stir, fluff with a fork, and leave to cool with the lid off.
3. Meanwhile, place a handful of raw walnuts in a shallow sautee pan, and turn heat to low-medium. Toast walnuts for 3-5 minutes, or however long it takes to gain that lightly toasted flavor.
4. When the sweet potato is done, remove from the oven, peel and cut into 2 inch pieces.
5. Load up your plate with some fresh salad greens, put a large spoonful or two of quinoa on top, and spread sweet potato on top of that. Sprinkle toasted walnuts, and simply drizzle with your favorite salad dressing.
6. To get the full rainbow plate effect, dice red bell peppers, purple cabbage, carrots, yellow bell peppers, avocado, and any other fresh veggies you have in your fridge. Sprinkle these on top of the salad before you dress it.
7. Alternately, you can:
- use a purple sweet potato instead of an orange one for more color and different nutrient content
- use red quinoa instead of white quinoa for more color and more nutrients
- drizzle on a little extra olive oil for more flavor