Monday, March 29, 2010

Eat a Rainbow: Go Boldly in the Direction of the Produce Section!

This morning, as I had my "superfoods" breakfast of steel-cut oatmeal with blueberries, walnuts, a sprinkling of ground flaxseeds, and a dash of fortified, unsweetened soy milk (the more adjectives you can use to describe your food, the more health-righteous you can feel), I remembered an article I'd read, "Why an All 'Superfoods' Diet is a Mistake," that talks about how it's possible to get stuck in a superfood rut.  Of course it's very easy to get stuck in a regular old food rut (actually, this blog forces me to break out of the routine of cooking the same old things), and apparently even if you're eating all superfoods, and only the same ones, you're still in a rut.

Variety is indeed the spice of life.  We gotta mix it up, my friends.  (That's why tomorrow I intend to have a giant donut and coffee to balance my healthy breakfast today.  Kidding, I guess.)

That's where the rainbow comes in.  Fruits and vegetables are magical foods that have fantastic abilities to do good stuff for us, some of which we know, some of which is being discovered, and there's a ton more that we don't know, like the way they synthesize together after we've eaten them to do magically wonderful things for us.  Turns out eating as many different kinds as we can is better than eating a lot of just a handful of varieties, even if they're superfoods.

The article mentions a 2006 study published in the Journal of Nutrition that found a diet that included a variety of fruits and veggies from 18 "botanical families" had a greater benefit than the diet with fruits and veggies from only 5 "botanical families."  The researchers wrote that "smaller amounts of many phytochemicals [like antioxidants] may have greater beneficial effects than larger amounts of fewer antioxidants."  Bottom line, if you want to do the most good for your health, it seems that it's better to get a little bit of everything.

So there it is.  Your plate is the canvas, and colorful fruits and veggies your paint.  Remember ROY G BIV?  Well, be sure you're eating it too: "red (including watermelon and tomatoes), red-purple (berries such as blueberries and blackberries, eggplant), orange (carrots and pumpkin), orange-yellow (citrus fruits, papaya), yellow-green (avocado and spinach), green (broccoli and cabbage), and white-green (garlic, onion, pears).  (These categories are from UCLA scientist David Heber's What Color is Your Diet?)."

And trust me, as someone who used to not want to eat a single fruit or vegetable (except for the fact that I knew I should), who now eats many more and actually enjoys it, your taste buds change.  That fresh stuff tastes great and makes you feel fantastic.  So keep on eating your fruits and veggies.  (I know, I know: thanks, mom.)  Be adventurous!  Go boldly in the direction of the produce section! And I'll help you fancy up that rainbow a little so it tastes even better.



  1. Love the blog Kendra! Thank you!
    I've been eating cooked barley as my breakfast cereal this week. Last week it was quinoa. It's been a nice break from oats.
    My biggest issue is making healthy things for the kiddos that they will eat. It's a challenge. Any suggestions?

  2. Glad you like it, ktdid! Thanks to you! And good for you for getting those whole grains -- barley and quinoa are fantastic, as you know. :)

    Good question about the kids... I'll definitely brainstorm more kid-friendly ideas for you. In the interim, you might also check out the site Vegan Lunch Box (, for ideas on how to make fruits and veggies kid friendly and also cute!

    From what I've read -- and I'm sure you know this better than I do -- it takes a while for kids to adjust to new tastes, so just keep introducing new things and be patient as they adjust. I read somewhere that it may take 3 or 5 times of seeing something before they actually try it, and before they like it. Maybe start with lots of fresh fruit, since it's sweet, it's naturally kid-friendly.

    Also, it's great to get the kids involved in buying fruits and veggies and in the cooking/preparation. The more invested they are in the process, the more likely they are to try something.

    Good luck! Let me know what successes you have, and as I said, I'll brainstorm more kid-friendly recipes.

    Take care!

  3. Hey Kendra - Really like what you're doing with the blog...I gotta try some of these recipes!

    I totally believe in the theory that the more colorful your diet is, the healthier it is.

    Which is why I eat lots and lots of Cheetos. :)