I’m always trying to find ways to make healthy eating fun and easy for clients and readers of my blog. June is Pride Month in Toronto, and the rainbow flag represents support for the LGBTQ community. I am a huge supporter of diversity, human rights and marriage equality. Often the rainbow in nutrition reflects eating different colours for health, but I always see the Pride Flag first! So why can’t we celebrate the health benefits of eating the rainbow and gay pride?
On nutrition: Dietitians often encourage “eating the rainbow.” We do not mean eat the Skittles (although I will enjoy the small packs at Halloween)! We also do not necessarily mean the rainbow that is Canada’s Food Guide’s either, although it can be a good guide for some.
Eating a rainbow of vegetables means enjoying a variety of colourful vegetables and fruits to ensure adequate vitamins, mineral and nutrients for your body. Here are the following vegetables and their colours that I used for my Rainbow Vegetable Bake, along with other coloured vegetable options you can use instead:
Red: Red Peppers, Tomatoes (you can also use beets)
Red-Orange: Heirloom Carrots
Orange: Carrots, Orange Peppers (can use sweet potato, butternut squash)
Yellow: Yellow Heirloom Carrots (can use yellow peppers)
Green: Broccoli (can use sugar snap peas, green beans)
Indigo-Purple: Purple Heirloom Carrots (can use purple potatoes or cauliflower)
Purple: Red/Purple Onion
Now this is the fun part: or should I say… nerdy dietitian part? Each colour provides different nutrients based on their colour. Let’s go through some of the goodness you get from each:
Rainbow Nutrients and Functions
Red: Lycopene (antioxidant – shown to reduce risk of some cancer, can protect against sun damage and heart attacks). Flavonoids (reduces inflammation – antioxidant properties)
Orange: Beta-carotene, carotenoids can be converted in the body to vitamin A – for vision and immune function
Yellow: Beta-carotene, carotenoids can be converted in the body to vitamin A – for vision and immune function
Green: Isothiocyanates, (induce enzymes in the liver that assist the body in removing potentially carcinogenic compounds). Vitamin K (blood clot formation), folic acid, potassium
Indigo-Purple: Anthocyanins (antioxidants – heart health, may help support healthy blood pressure, lower risk of cancer)
Purple: Anthocyanins (antioxidants – heart health, may help support healthy blood pressure, lower risk of cancer)
A special thanks to the amazing producers at Carron Farms for providing me with the beautiful Heirloom Collection Carrots that I used in this recipe. I always love connecting with farmers and sharing their passion for good, fresh food!
Easy-Peasy and Family Friendly!
One of the greatest hurdles I often see in my private practice is the struggle with finding the time and energy to cook after a long workday. This is a great make-ahead side dish that you can prepare on a weekend, cover and refrigerate it, and bake when you get home from work.
Also, as an Art and Cooking Instructor at a private art school, I can tell you that children LOVE recipes with lots of fun and bright colours. This is a very simple recipe where children can get involved in the preparation of all the brightly coloured vegetables.
RECIPE: Rainbow Vegetable Bake
1 bag (900g, 2lbs) Carron Farms Heirloom Collection Carrots, chopped into similar bite-sized pieces.
1 pint grape tomatoes (sliced in half)
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 large orange bell pepper, chopped
2 cups chopped broccoli (about 1-2 heads)
1 red onion, chopped
3 Tbsp. oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Can also add other herbs and spices!
Chop all vegetables to about 1-inch, bite-sized pieces. If you are using carrots, chop them smaller as they will take longer to cook, ~ ½ to 1 inch!
- Preheat oven to 375 F. Cover 2 baking sheets with tin foil and or cooking spray.
- Separate the vegetables according to colour into different bowls.
- Add oil, salt and pepper. Add other herbs if using. Mix each bowl together with a spoon or your hands.
- Arrange each vegetable by colour on the baking sheet.
- Bake in oven for 25-35 minutes. They are done when the vegetables are cooked through and slightly brown along the edges.
This recipe is very easy to customize. Below I added feta cheese before serving for more fun and flavour!
This recipe makes a great side dish and refrigerates well. You can store it in the fridge for leftovers later. It also ensures that you get enough vegetables at your meals!
Please Note: I wrote this blog post not only to encourage families to eat/cook/enjoy more colourful vegetables, but also to commemorate the 49 victims of the Pulse Nightclub Shooting in Orlando, Florida one year ago. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Martin Luther King, Jr.