Healthy Eating: The Rainbow Rule

By now we all know that it is important to eat a balanced diet with a wide variety of foods.  It is important when cooking to prepare meals that incorporate a diverse amount of seasonal—and local if possible—ingredients.  Not only is in season produce generally more flavorful and nutritious, but is usually less expensive.  In order to achieve diversity in your diet, a good rule of thumb is to use the Rainbow Rule and incorporate a rainbow into each meal.  If each meal displays a rainbow of colors, it probably includes most of the body’s nutritional requirements (violet, blue, green, yellow, orange, red, white).

You can even incorporate a rainbow into a sandwich!  Let go of the traditional thought that a sandwich can only include lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle in addition to your meat and cheese and embrace using vegetables of all colors.

Some examples include adding greens such as chives, basil, cilantro, dill, green onions, parsley or avocado to your mayo/yogurt mix; spreading olive tapenade on your bread; slicing pickles, cucumbers, radish, or jicama; using a potato peeler to peel carrot ribbons; using different lettuces, arugula or baby spinach leaves; or using a variety of sprouts; tomato, fresh or marinated red bell pepper, or seasoning with paprika are also options.

Finally, don’t be afraid to add ingredients when a recipe doesn’t traditionally call for it.  For example, I like to make a homemade bolognese meat sauce that traditionally calls for onion, carrot, and celery.  Instead of limiting myself to just those three vegetables, I will usually add anywhere from three to five additional ones: finely chopped leafy greens such as kale and spinach, a variety of mushrooms, diced bell peppers, various fresh herbs such as basil, thyme, or flat leaf parsley, even broccoli and cauliflower.  My husband eats it every time and even better, so does my two year old daughter.

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