by Tara Davis
They say it takes 14-30 days for a lifestyle practice to become a habit. July is the perfect month to develop the habit of incorporating a rainbow into your daily diet.
Produce in every color can be found in grocery stores, farmers’ markets, co-ops and in your neighbors’ gardens this time of year. If you haven’t been taking advantage of it, I’m about to give you several reasons to improve upon that choice.
Real talk: Is eating a healthy, balanced diet the best way to introduce vitamins into your diet?
Is fresh, uncooked produce the best, most concentrated source of vitamins and minerals necessary for your body to function properly?
Well – yes.
But if you aren’t quite ready to commit to a raw diet, or are just partial to seasonings and flavors so effectively alluring via many cooking preparations, don’t despair! It turns out boiling is the harshest of depletions for your fresh vegetables, with 45% or more loss of natural nutrients. Baking and sauteeing are next, at 30-35% loss. And yes, the softer your food is cooked, the greater the detriment to your vitamin intake. All this really means is, change up your preparations regularly, and try to stay away from water logged cooking methods. And eat more fruits and vegetables, in general.
What, exactly, are we cooking away? The largest loss by a great margin is Vitamin C. Luckily, it is available in many different foods, meaning multiple items on your plate could easily bulk up your daily dose.
Green foods, especially leafy vegetables such as spinach and other greens, but extending into broccoli, beans, and sprouts, contain photochemical that have been proven to help protect against cancer and promote bone health. They also boast high amounts of vitamins K, C and E.
Red foods, like tomatoes, peppers and beets (yes beets – try them, you’ll like them) contain lycopene and antioxidants that support heart health.
Purple and blue foods, like berries, cabbage and eggplant are given their color by anthocyanin, an antioxidant shown to reduce cell damage, as well as risks of stroke and cancer.
Orange and yellow foods, including squash, corn, sweet potatoes and carrots, convert their carotenoids to Vitamin A, bolstering eye health as well as that of mucus membranes.
Maybe this is all just mumbo jumbo to you. But the truth is, it matters. And it’s important to make the effort to try to find ways of bearing their intake, folks! So make healthy dips (recipe to follow), switch up your cooking methods, enjoy produce for its natural flavors and textures when possible, and eat fresh and local. Your body and mind will repay you in kindness and your taste buds will grow and blossom. Enjoy the rainbow, and a couple of quick recipes:
Hummus – Blend 2 cans of drained, rinsed garbanzo beans with 2 cloves garlic, 2 tbso lemon juice, 2 tsp salt, and a pinch of fresh parsley. Slowly drizzle in 2 cups olive oil, until fully incorporated into a smooth consistency. Season to taste if needed. Serve with strips of fresh peppers, carrots and celery, or in fresh lettuce or spinach leaves.
Fresh green sauce – Blend 3 cups fresh spinach (NOT frozen or canned), 1 small bunch parsley, 1 small bunch basil, 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar and 1 clove of garlic with 1 cup olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve on EVERYTHING.