Eat the Rainbow: Ideas to Inspire You
We are so excited to share with you our new “Eat the Rainbow” box, which is not only filled with beautiful regeneratively grown seasonal vegetables that represent each of the colors of the rainbow but is also full of phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and more! This box is a delicious, creative, sensory eating experience delivered right to your door. Every month the ingredients in the box will change so you can experience the colors and benefits of the season. Each box will also include a specialty item grown or created right here on the farm.
What makes plants so colorful? It’s all about the phytonutrients! Phytonutrients (aka phytochemicals) are compounds produced by plants to help protect them from disease, sun damage, and predators like insects. Phytonutrients are what give plants their unique colors, smells, and tastes. Many phytonutrients have antioxidant properties, which means they help to protect our cells from damage. Studies show that people who eat more plant foods have a reduced risk of chronic diseases and enjoy better brain health and lower inflammation.
7 Tips to Eat the Rainbow
- Vegetable noodles can be made in every color! I love making beet, sweet potato, zucchini, and cucumber noodles. Vegetable noodles are easy to make with the right equipment, are nutrient-dense, flavorful, and everyone loves noodles.
- Tomatoes come in all different colors, shapes, and sizes. You can include tomatoes in sauces, salads, salsas, and even jam (link to our tomato jam). When tomatoes are cooked, it increases their lycopene content and total antioxidant capacity, so you receive even more benefits!
- Just like tomatoes, peppers come in all different shapes, sizes, colors, and levels of hotness. Consider adding colorful bell peppers (like orange, red, yellow, or purple) in place of green bell peppers when making stir fry, on pizzas, and in salads.
- Try making this “Green Green Goddess Dip.” After all, vegetables with dip are a party favorite. I recommend adding watercress, which is one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables. Vegetable trays are a fun and beautiful way to incorporate vegetables from each color of the rainbow.
- Purple asparagus is less bitter and slightly sweeter than green asparagus. Try sprinkling a little bit of lemon juice on it to boost the color and eat it raw, shaved onto a salad (when cooked, the purple color fades).
- Tahini is made from sesame seeds (rich in lignans) and creates a wonderful base for dressings that pair perfectly with vegetables of all colors. Here are 5 Tahini Salad Dressings to get started.
- Time to clean out the produce drawer? Make a colorful chunky sauce or salsa with a mix of whatever vegetables and herbs you have on hand. The more color the better! Finely chop (I like to use a food processor). Add a little salt, some acid (like lemon or vinegar), a splash of olive oil, and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
“Eating the Rainbow” is not only beneficial for your health, but it’s also good for the planet. Eating a wide range of differently colored vegetables promotes biodiversity. Although there are over 40,000 different edible species on Earth, it’s estimated that 75% of our food supply comes from just 12 species of plants and animals. This lack of diversity limits the number of phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals that we’re consuming, not to mention that it is so much more fun to experiment with different vegetables!
Color, Mood, and Food
Including all of the tastes (sweet, salty, sour, spicy, bitter, astringent) ensures that you’re getting a variety of nutrients and supports healthy digestion. Our brains have evolved to associate color with taste- the more color you include the more different tastes will be included in your meal. Even better- the more vibrant the color the more flavorful the vegetable!
Colors also have measurable effects on health and mood including influencing blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, and sleep as well as helping us to experience feelings such as being relaxed, energetic, or happy. For example, we often associate orange and yellow with happiness, hope, and optimism and associate orange and yellow foods with sweetness (think sweet corn, sweet potatoes, etc). When we think of green we often associate it with health and nature. Green foods often have more of a bitter flavor (think dandelion, chicory, and other spring greens) which is partially from their higher calcium content, how genetics influence your taste perception, as well as phytochemicals (like glucosinolates).
Do you experience the mid-afternoon crash? Stabilizing blood sugar by eating a variety of colorful vegetables helps avoid this mid-afternoon slump and avoids the need to turn to sweets or caffeine.
Eating the rainbow of vegetables also can reduce symptoms of “brain fog” by providing antioxidants (like luteolin) that reduce inflammation and vitamins B9, C, E, and the minerals selenium, magnesium, and zinc which all help your brain function.
Simply switching from the standard American diet (which is high in processed foods and low in whole plant-based foods) to a Mediterranean style of eating which includes a more diverse array of colorful fruits and vegetables, unprocessed grains, nuts, and fish was shown to reduce depression by 25-35%.
Sign up for recurring deliveries for the Eat the Rainbow Box to ensure your body gets all the nutrients it needs by enjoying the full spectrum of colors—to receive access to all the colors of the rainbow in vegetables plus one featured item such as a specialty tea, seasoning, honey, or seasonal specialty produce.
We’re really excited to build a beautiful, vibrant, community around this box. When you subscribe you will receive access to our Eat the Rainbow Facebook group! We hope you enjoy our monthly box and will share your photos with us on Facebook and Instagram @farmerjonesfarm.
References:“Vegetable Bitterness is Related to Calcium Content”
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