Editor’s Note: Here in the South, living a full life is easy when we take a cue from the season’s most fashionable colors. In this guest post by our favorite Southern foodie, Rebecca Turner, you’ll learn about a concept that has revolutionized the way we’ve been thinking about healthy eating lately – and it’s been a lot of fun! Instead of counting calories, try counting colors. Here’s Rebecca’s take on eating along the season’s hottest trends.
Can fashion really tell us something about food? Absolutely, darling. It’s all about painting your plate with the colors of the season – from the fashion runway to the farmer’s market!
This spring, take a cue from runway ‘fashionistas’ with the season’s hottest colors – greenery, muted kale, energetic primrose yellow, and attention grabbing flame – to build a healthier meal with the deep rich colors found in abundant Southern-grown produce like spinach, squash and blueberries. Bright colors indicate a high nutritional content in foods and the more colorful you paint your plate, the more vitamins and minerals you will add to your meal.
While the bounty of our warm Southern spring and summer provides more than enough options to maintain a healthy daily diet of three to five servings of fruits and vegetables, more experts are saying healthy eating is not just about how many servings you eat, it’s definitely about variety, too! Just another reason the South is such a great place to eat!
The best place to get a taste of the season’s rainbow of Southern produce is at one of your local farmer’s markets, which are now open and ready for your business. This spring and summer, enjoy a palette of healthy colors and flavors! Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
Strawberries. Bright red berries are packed with vitamin C plus offer antioxidants which may help slow skin’s aging process. Besides snacking on them raw, slice strawberries onto oatmeal, yogurts, or salads.
Tomatoes. Raw tomatoes naturally contain a variety of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that have the potential to protect against serious diseases. Cooking tomatoes in soups, stews, or homemade spaghetti, releases lycopene, a phytonutrient that guards against some cancers, such as skin cancer.
Carrots and sweet potatoes. Both root vegetables, carrots and sweet potatoes can thank their rich orange hue for making them excellent sources of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene and vitamin C which helps build a better immune system. Carrots are great raw in salads, as a snack, juiced, or roasted in the oven or on the grilled. Sweet potatoes are best roasted, steamed, smashed, or grilled.
Dark greens. Spinach, kale, mustards, collards, and bok choy to name a few are ripe for the picking this season. Produce with a dark green hue are an excellent source of heart healthy fiber, folate and iron, which all help improve brain function. Deep green leaves also contain bone building nutrients like vitamin K and calcium. Experiment with dark greens, sliced thin in salads, blended in a smoothie, baked into chips, or even sautéed with stir fry.
Blueberries. That luxurious blue tone doesn’t just make blueberries pop on a plate, but it’s also packed with potent phytonutrients that can ward off heart disease. Berries are very low in calories, cholesterol, and fat, but they’re crammed full of fiber, potassium, and vitamin C which all support heart health. Enjoy blueberries raw, in yogurt, baked in pastries, blended into a smoothie, or smashed fresh and spread onto toast.
Squash. Summer squash is a staple in the market this time of year! The sunny looking vegetable is a vibrant source of immune boosting vitamins and minerals, particularly manganese. Manganese is a mineral which helps the body process fats and glucose. Experience summer squash raw in salads, stewed down, or roasted with a collection of other colorful vegetables.
This spring and summer support your local farmer’s market and get a range of fruits and vegetables in varying hues every meal. Painting your plate with vibrant, nutrient-rich foods makes it simpler than ever to eat healthy, for a look that never goes out of style.
Rebecca Turner is registered dietitian nutritionist, author, radio host, television presenter, freelance writer and a certified specialist in sports dietetics (CSSD) with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Rebecca’s book”Mind Over Fork: Escape Dieting to Find the Healthy Lifestyle You Deserve” goes past to the plate to repair your relationship with food and terminate the need to diet. As the radio host of “Good Things with Rebecca Turner” on SuperTalk Mississippi, she brings you the best of Mississippi and beyond. Connect with Rebecca at www.rebeccaturnernutrition.com or follow her on Facebook and Instagram @RebeccaTurnerNutrition.