Get Your Daily Dose of Color




The summer produce season is at its peak in all its Technicolor glory. For better health, you should duplicate this happy color scheme on your plate. Studies suggest that nearly 80 percent of Americans are putting their health at risk by failing to eat a diet rich in specific colorful fruits and vegetables.

The colors of fruits and vegetables are a clue to the important phytonutrients each contains. Phytonutrients are powerful antioxidants that can help fight the damage caused to the body’s cells over time that can lead to premature aging and disease. Phytonutrients offer a wide range of health benefits from promoting eye, bone and heart health to supporting immune and brain function.

While health experts recommend you eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, you should also aim to eat two fruits or vegetables from each of the five color categories, too. 

Phytonutrient Color Categories:

Green: Dark green leafy vegetables are rich in lutein, among other phytochemicals. Others in this family are green beans, avocados, kiwi fruit, green peppers and honeydew melon.

Red: Tomatoes and tomato products, watermelon and pink grapefruit contain lycopene, which studies have shown reduces the risk of several types of cancer.

White: Onions (all kinds, including green onions), garlic, leeks, shallots, and chives contain compounds that protect DNA.

Blue/purple: Most of the berries, especially blueberries, as well as plums, red grapes, cranberries, and pomegranates are in this family that contain some of the most powerful antioxidants such as anthocyanins. Anthocyanins reduce inflammation, protect against cancer, and recent studies show positive effects in eyes, arteries, and brains.

Yellow/orange: Citrus fruits as well as peaches, nectarines, pineapple, and papaya are rich in vitamin C and flavonoids, another group of antioxidants that supports the immune system. Other foods rich in carotenes include carrots, pumpkin, mangos, apricots, cantaloupe and sweet potatoes. Carotenes help improve communication between cells as well as performing many of the same functions as other antioxidants.

Not all vegetables and fruits fit easily into families. Just look for the color. Other plant foods rich in various types of phytonutrients are nuts, seeds, and grains, beans, tea and dark chocolate.

All in all, good nutrition is all about colorful choices!

Summertime Slim Down: Get Grilling!

Nothing says summer quite like a savory, fire-roasted meal. Big on flavor without added fat and calories, smart grilling is the ideal companion to a healthful summer eating plan.

Rub In Flavor
Bacon on your steak? Never! Buttery sauces for the fish? No way! Leave the added fat behind and try a dry rub to add a ton of flavor without adding calories.
Dry rub recipes for meat, fish and poultry abound on the Internet, so there’s no reason not to make your own. In fact, some regional cuisines are based on the distinctive flavors of their fabulous rubs — think Memphis dry rub barbecue, or Jamaican Jerk specialties.
A good rub starts with top-quality ingredients. Fresh ground black pepper, and dried herbs and spices that still have their rich aroma are key. If that bottle of basil smells like bland tea leaves, toss it out — dried spices have a shelf-life of about a year.
You’ll use between a half tablespoon and one tablespoon rub per cut. Most rub recipes make a lot, so store the remainder in an airtight container to use next time.
To get the rub to stick, coat each cut with unsweetened apple juice, citrus juice (lemon, lime or orange), balsamic or white wine vinegar. Pat the rub in place to make a thin coating over the entire cut and you’re ready to grill.

For a more intense flavor, coat with rub and refrigerate for 4 to 24 hours.

Fire up Fruits and Veggies!

Grilling isn’t just for meat and fish. Cooking over an open flame brings out the natural sweetness of vegetables and adds a delightful smoky tang to fruits as well. The secret is to choose foods that are tender and cook quickly, and then cut them into uniform pieces — no more than ¾ to 1 inch think.
Soak vegetables in cold water for 30 minutes before grilling to keep them from drying out. Pat dry and coat with cooking spray, then toss on the grill or in a grill basket. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, peppers and squash are especially good on the grill. Mushrooms, asparagus and corn on the cob also taste great grilled.
Pineapple, peaches, pears and plums all take on a wonderful flavor when grilled. Cut pineapple into rings. Halve and pit the others and brush all with fresh juice before placing on the grill. A grill basket or pan will keep smaller pieces from falling into the fire.
Keep watch over fruits and vegetables on the grill to avoid overcooking. Then sit back and enjoy a smoky bounty even the kids will love!

Go Beyond Burgers

Variety is not only the spice of life, it’s the secret to maintaining a healthy, slimmed down lifestyle as well. If your grill has never seen more than burgers, hot dogs and the occasional rack of ribs, it’s time to expand your thinking and get a bit adventurous.

Seafood, lamb, tofu and even portabello mushrooms offer rich, savory alternatives to traditional backyard fare. Pair them up with flavorful rubs, fresh herbs or citrusy marinades for a simple gourmet treat that’s long on flavor and short on fat and calories.

The possibilities are endless. Use your imagination and let your palate be your guide as you rediscover the oldest and most basic form of cooking known to man. It’s time to get grillin’!