Eating a Rainbow of Colors

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By now, we’ve all heard, “Eat your Veggies”, well there’s a whole rainbow out there of amazing produce known as Superfoods.  Incorporating these babies into your daily diet can fight cancer, improve your memory, and keep those nasty colds away.  So, what are these superfoods that everyone is talking about?

Superfoods are fruits and veggies that are full of antioxidants.  It’s easy to incorporate their rainbow variety into your diet; simply mix n’ match various colors for a plate that is not only pleasing to the eye, but your stomach, as well. 

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Yellow and Orange

  • Oranges
  • Cantaloupe
  • Butternut Squash
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Corn
  • Carrots
  • Apricots
  • Our yellow and orange fruits and veggies are packed with antioxidants that boost our immune systems and provide a nice, big dose of Vitamin C.  Moreover, eating fruits and veggies of these colors help ward off age-related eye disease.  I personally love cooking Butternut Squash and making my Butternut Squash Fries, which can be prepared in minutes and popped into the oven.  Another easy way to incorporate these colors into your diet is combining the above fruits into a smoothie.

    Green

    • Avocados
    • Asparagus
    • Cucumbers
    • Leafy Greens
    • Green Peppers
    • Spinach
    • Broccoli

    These greens help relieve the effects of serious eye ailments such as cataracts and macular degeneration.  Moreover, they help clear the arteries that keep blood flowing to your brain.  My favorite way to incorporate greens into my meals is sauteing spinach and collard greens with garlic and pine nuts.

    Tan and White

    • Parsnips
    • Turnips
    • Cauliflower
    • Onions
    • Mushrooms
    • Bananas
    • Garlic

    These guys  may not have a lotta color to them, however, they pack a serious antioxidant punch with phytonutrients that help protect the heart and fight cancer.  My favorite way to eat the “whites and tans” is to roast parsnips in the oven with a sprinkle of cinnamon and chili powder.

    Blue and Purple

    • Blueberries
    • Raisins
    • Purple Grapes
    • Purple Potatoes
    • Eggplant

    These blue food friends supply us with a healthy dose of antioxidants, which are beneficial for memory and motor function.  I personally love to cook Eggplant Parm–(the gluten free/dairy free way), of course.

    Red

    • Tomatoes
    • Cherries
    • Strawberries
    • Watermelon
    • Radicchio

    Red fruits and veggies contain lycopene and flavonoids are important antioxidants to help fight diseases and various cancers.  Try a rice dish with garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, and tomatoes.

    What’s your favorite way to incorporate a rainbow into your daily diet?

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    Super Foods on a Budget

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    In this day n’ age…the economy isn’t looking too shabby.  We all have to learn to cut back on certain things, however, we should not be cutting back on our nutritious foods as we must continue to feed our bodies with healthy super foods everyday.  Here are a few of my favorite super foods that will keep you on (or hopefully under) your budget!

    Swiss Chard

    • An excellent source of beta carotene (an antioxidant and pre-cursor for vitamin A), vitamin C, and a good source of potassium and magnesium.  Research has shown that vitamin C and beta carotene may prevent the oxidation of LDL “Bad” cholesterol and therefore may decrease risk of heart disease.  Moreover, research has also shown that magnesium and potassium may lower blood pressure levels.  Swiss Chard is reasonably priced- a bit more expensive then some of your other greens, but still about $2/bunch.

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    Kale

    • This dark, leafy green is loaded with vitamin C, carotenoids, and calcium.  Not to mention a good source of potassium and magnesium.   Like most greens it is usually fairly cheep at $1.50/ bunch.

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    Spinach

    • One of the best green leafies out there- it’s an excellent source of folate, antioxidant vitamins A (formed from beta-carotene) and C, and a good source of potassium and magnesium.  Studies show that folate can help prevent heart disease by lowering levels of the amino acid homocysteine.  Plus, you can usually find it year round for less than a $1/bunch.

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    Broccoli

    • An excellent source of folate and vitamin C, a good source of fiber, calcium, Vitamin A, potassium and vitamin B6.   If that isn’t enough broccoli is also packed with phytonutrients, compounds that may help prevent heart disease, certain cancers, and diabetes.  Plus, it’s low in cost and calories.

    Tomatoes

    • An excellent source of vitamins  A and C, a good source of potassium and contain the antioxidant lycopene.  Depending on the type of tomato, they can be pricey, however, review your choices in the food store and purchase the cheapest, best quality tomatoes.

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    Parsnips

    • A good source of vitamin C, fiber and folate.  Fiber helps promote heart health by reducing levels of LDL “Bad” cholesterol and that vitamin C decreases risk for heart disease by preventing the oxidation of LDL “Bad” cholesterol.  These fun veggies are close in price to carrots, perhaps a few cents more, but still fairly cheep.

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    Avocados

    • Rich in monounsaturated “GOOD” fats and contain potassium and folate.  Research shows that monounsaturated fats can lower LDL “Bad” cholesterol.   Avocados add the perfect touch to any meal and for the inexpensive price, you can’t beat it!

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    Omega 3 Fatty Acids

    • Omega 3’s are known to lower heart disease risk, help arthritis, and may help with depression, memory loss and Alzheimer’s.  Most prevalent in fatty, cold water fish such as WILD (not farmed) salmon, sardines, mackerel, and herring.  Also found in fortified eggs, flax seeds and walnuts.  All of these super foods are high in monounsaturated fats, which is a huge benefit since this can lower cholesterol.  Fresh fish can be quite pricey, however, for the nutritional punch these Omega 3’s provide–it’s worth the extra cash–treat yourself!

    Bananas

    • Loaded with Potassium and fiber, these yellow treats are not just a monkey’s favorite.  Not to mention they are about 20 cents a piece–a dollar can get you a banana for every day of the workweek!

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    Steel Cut Oats

    • High in fiber and complex carbohydrates, oats have been known to lower cholesterol-and boy are they cheap! A dollar can buy you more than a week’s worth of warm, satisfying steel cut oats!

    Sardines

    • These relatively cheap little fish come with big benefits such as B vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc.  And, because they are low on the food chain, they do not accumulate mercury.

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    Whole Grain Pasta

    • A delicious complex carbohydrate that is high in protein and B vitamins-not to mention it’s one of the cheapest staples you can buy!

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    Tofu

    • This inexpensive protein source is not just for vegetarians and can be used in both sweet and savory recipes.  It’s high in B vitamins and Iron, but low in fat and sodium, making it a healthful addition to many dishes.

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    Beets

    • These purple guys are sweet to the palate while their rich flavor and color make them nutritious for our bodies; they are powerhouses of folate, iron, and antioxidants.  Look for fresh beets in your food store, most beets are reasonably priced and found near the root veggies.

    Nuts

    • Packed with good-for-you fats, both unsaturated and monounsaturated, these are a good source of essential fatty acids, protein, and vitamin E.  Because they are so nutrient-dense, you only need a handful or two to reap the nutritional benefits.  Although macadamias and pecans can be costly, nuts such as walnuts, peanuts and almonds are low in cost.

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    Wild Rice

    • This gluten-free complex carbohydrate is a whole lot better for you than “white” rice and it’s low in fat, and high in protein and fiber.  This rice is loaded with B vitamins and potassium, not to mention the delicious, nutty, robust flavor.

    Garbanzo Beans

    • No only are they a great source of protein and fiber, but they are high in iron, folate, manganese and fiber, and may help reduce cholesterol levels.  If you don’t like Garbanzo beans–try another-lentils, lima, black-the varieties are endless.  Additionally, with beans, you’re getting your money’s worth because they are much cheaper to purchase than animal proteins.

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    Blueberries

    • Packed with phytoflavinoids and antioxidants, these berries are also high in vitamin C and potassium, which are anti-inflammatory and lower your risk of heart disease and cancer.  The darker the berry, the more antioxidants they have.  And remember, frozen fruits are just as good as fresh.  Fresh berries get a bad rep for being pricey, however, their frozen friends are just as delish and good for you, not to mention cheaper! Head to the freezer isle if the fresh berries are too pricey.

    What do you consider your Super Foods? How do their prices fair against the ones I have listed above?  Have you had to cut back at the food store due to our current economic times?