May 16, 2024
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May 16, 2024
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Eating the Colors of the Rainbow

You may have heard the catchphrase “eating the rainbow,” but without the reference to a breakfast cereal. Nutritionists, dieticians, doctors, or other health and wellness advisors use the phrase to get people—especially children—to incorporate more fruits and veggies in their diets. The truth is it really is more than a catchphrase. Let’s take a look at the mechanics and see why it’s a good idea to “eat the rainbow” at all.

It is not only pleasing to eat the colors of the rainbow: ROYGBIV- Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. Fruits and vegetables that contain these colors also contain nutrients that research has shown to fight cancer, boost immunity, decrease obesity and protect against illness. So maybe I should just eat fruits and vegetables and refrain from eating meat, cheese, fish and grains?

Not so: Research has also shown that a balance is key to food consumption. A diet consisting of only these “rainbow nutrients” could leave the body lacking the key elements to a healthy diet. Eating a balance of protein, grains and vegetables is the ideal to maintaining a healthy diet.

The key to eating the rainbow is to note that certain colors of food indicate an abundance of specific nutrients. For example, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables (citrus fruits, squash) are rich in vitamins C and A. Green fruits and veggies (kale, spinach, asparagus, avocado) are high in vitamins K, B, and E. Purple produce on the other hand (eggplant, red cabbage, grapes) are high in vitamins C and K. The reason you can tell these from looking is because plants often derive their colors from various phytochemicals found in them. Those chemicals then offer you different nutrients when they’re eaten. That’s the root of eating the colors of the rainbow. Really by just adding a variety of colorful produce to your diet is an easy way to get a lot of vitamins and minerals without putting in too much effort beyond selecting a bunch of colors. A simple selection of five to six ingredients should do the trick.

If you have picky eaters, the bright colors might just help get them to try something new.

Here is a simple recipe to bring color and balance to your picky eaters.

Cheese Quesadilla


4 (10-inch) flour tortillas

1 cup grated cheese, sharp Cheddar or Mexican blend

1 cup total of red pepper, green pepper, red onion, yellow zucchini, green zucchini and eggplant

4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

Sour cream, for garnish

Salsa, for garnish

Guacamole, for garnish


Warm a skillet over low heat and add two teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil. Cut your assorted vegetables into strips and sauté until the colors really pop and the vegetables soften. Lay the tortillas flat on a cookie sheet. Lay your sautéed vegetables on half of the tortilla and sprinkle with cheese. Try not to get it too close to the edge. Fold the tortillas in half over the cheese to make a half-moon. Add the two teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil to your skillet and add the tortilla and cook until it is lightly brown, about two minutes. Using a spatula, gently lift the edge so you can check. When one side is brown, turn the tortilla over and cook the other side until brown and the cheese is gooey. Use a spatula to transfer to individual plates or a large platter. Repeat with remaining evoo (extra virgin olive oil) and tortillas. Cut the half moon tortilla in half and then each half again so you have four pieces. Top them with the sour cream, salsa and guacamole.

Yitz Alloul is executive chef and managing partner of Veggie Bistro & Cafe, located at 166 West Englewood Avenue in Teaneck.

By Yitz Alloul

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