The new year is right around the corner and with that comes new goals to start living a healthier lifestyle again. Most commonly new year’s resolutions center around weight loss and making better food choices. As a dietitian, I cringe hearing people tell me they are going to start a “fad” diet for the new year.
The word diet comes from the Greek word “diaita” which means “a way of life.” In simple terms, diet really refers to the way we eat throughout our lives. I am a firm believer that all foods fit into your “diet” and moderation is the key to a healthy happy life.
Instead of making a new year’s resolution this year, skip trying that new fad diet and focus on small changes. Why not start by making your plate more colorful and eating a rainbow of colors. A colorful plate is easy and healthy for you.
Here is what adding more color to your plate can do for you this new year.
The more color the more appealing the food is to you.
When your food looks good, it will likely taste better. Color is the single most important sensory cue when it comes to your visual expectations of what the taste and flavors of the food and drink might be like. If you like the color of your food, you are more likely to enjoy the taste of your food. So why not make your plate more colorful?
Intense color means intense flavorsThe more vibrant the color the more intense flavors the food will have. Ripe foods are often richer in color than unripe foods providing more flavor. Color saturation is a signal to the brain that the food is full of flavor and ready to eat. Think about those juicy red strawberries or bright orange cantaloupe.
A food’s color is a good indicator for the nutrients insideA food’s color is a natural labeling system for the nutrients bodies need. Each color provides your body different essential nutrients. Eating healthier can be as simple as eating food from each of the color groups to increase your overall nutrition.
Colorful food can make you feel better A bright and colorful plate can not only boost your mood but your appetite as well. Dull colors like grey, brown and black can easily reduce your energy and reduce your desire to eat. However, a plate that is visually appealing makes you anticipate and become excited about what you are eating.
In short, consuming foods in a variety of different colors can help ensure you are getting all the essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and fiber your body needs to promote a healthy diet. Eating the rainbow of different colored foods is not just another fad, it is a fundamentally healthy way to eat. We have all had enough darkness in 2020 so let us bring more color to 2021 by starting with what we put on our plate to eat.
I challenge you this new year to add more color to your life and skip the fad diet!
Color wheel salad recipe
Makes 10 servings
- 1 bunch spinach, chopped
- 1 bunch red leaf lettuce, chopped
- 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
- 1 mango, cut into 1 in. cubes
- 1 lb. strawberries, hulled and sliced in half
- 1 red pepper, sliced into thin strips and cut in half
- 2 bosc pears, thinly sliced
- fresh lime, optional
- dressing of your choice
Mix spinach, red leaf lettuce and cilantro in a large bowl. Top with fruit and red pepper. Dress individual servings with lime juice and salad dressing to taste.
Nutrition analysis per serving (Salad dressing not included): 70 calories, 0 g fat, 2 g protein, 16 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 20 mg sodium
Roasted vegetable salad recipe
Makes 6 servings
- 1 eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes (peel skin if desired)
- 2 zucchini, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 ½ inch cubes
- 1 yellow bell pepper, but into 1 ½ inch cubes
- 2 small sweet potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 cups acorn squash, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
- 3 Tbsp. garlic-infused olive oil
- 3 cups spinach
Preheat oven to 400° F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine the vegetables in a large bowl, drizzle with 1 Tbsp. olive oil, and toss to coat. Place the vegetables on the baking sheets in a single layer and roast for 20 minutes, or until golden, turning occasionally to ensure even browning. Cover with foil and cool.
To make the dressing, place the balsamic vinegar and garlic-infused olive oil in a small, sealed jar and shake well to combine. Combine the cooled roasted vegetables and spinach in a large bowl. Add the dressing and toss well.
Nutrition analysis per serving: 295 calories, 17.5 g fat, 15 g protein, 18 g carbohydrate, 4.5 g fiber, 25 mg sodium