Fall officially begins tomorrow so time to start thinking about sweaters and boots. Here in California we are literally just thinking about it but soon cold weather will be a reality, and with it hopefully some much needed rain. Along with cooler temperatures comes more lovely squashes, root vegetables and the last of the tomatoes from the garden. I absolutely love a colorful plate and make an effort to Eat the Rainbow which is not only gorgeous but also more nutritious in that a colorful variety provides a wider range of nutrients. Go bold! The brighter the color the bigger the bounty. For those of you with picky eaters at home there is even a downloadable game Eat the Rainbow Challenge which might encourage your kids to go beyond carrot sticks and apple slices. Here is the rundown from Every Day Health of just what that beautiful color can do for you.
Red. In fruits and vegetables, red is usually a sign of vitamin A (beta carotene) and vitamin C. Typically, red produce are also high in manganese and fiber. Choose red bell peppers, tomatoes, cherries, cranberries, raspberries, rhubarb, pomegranates, and beets. Red apples also contain quercetin, a compound that seems to fight colds, the flu, and allergies. Tomatoes, watermelon, and red grapefruit are loaded with lycopene, a compound that appears to have cancer-fighting properties
Yellow. Banana is probably the first yellow fruit that comes to mind — and it delivers potassium and fiber. You will also find potassium and fiber plus manganese, vitamin A, and magnesium in other yellow produce, such as spaghetti squash, summer squash, and yellow bell peppers.
Orange. Just a shade away from red, orange in fruits and vegetables signifies a similar vitamin and mineral profile. You’ll get vitamins C, A, and B6, potassium, and fiber in choices such as butternut squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupes, oranges, pumpkins, orange peppers, nectarines, and peaches.
Green. Dark leafy greens are packed with nutrients — this group offers far more vitamins and minerals than iceberg lettuce. A favorite dark leafy green is spinach because of its rich lutein content, which aids eyesight, and folate, which supports cell reproduction. Broccoli and asparagus also contain these compounds.
Blue. Think blue, and you’re most likely picturing a bowl of blueberries, one of nature’s most powerful antioxidants. They are also loaded with fiber and make an incredibly versatile addition to your diet
Purple. This group includes vegetables like red onions and eggplant, and fruits such as blackberries, Concord grapes, currants, and plums. Purple indicates the presence of anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that protect blood vessels and preserve healthy skin. You can also find vitamin A and flavonoids in purple vegetables like radicchio, purple cabbage, purple potatoes, and purple carrots.
White. White may not be much of a color, but white vegetables, such as cauliflower, rutabagas, and parsnips, still shine with vitamins and minerals like vitamins C, K, and folate, and they contain fiber. Don’t forget onions and garlic, which have a compound called allicin that seems to protect the heart and blood vessels from damage.
For Meatless Monday this week, I roasted butternut squash, purple, pink and white baby potatoes, artichoke hearts and assorted small tomatoes from my garden. This is a really easy and quick dinner to prepare, ready in a half hour, and almost any root vegetable, like carrots, turnips or parsnips that you might have on hand can be added. I happen to really love the small purple potatoes. They add an interesting color and their flavor is more defined than a white potato. Just slice the butternut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds and pulp. Remove the peel and dice into medium cubes. Cut potatoes in half (or quarters if larger). Place potatoes and squash in a large baking dish and toss with oil and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and add artichoke hearts, tomatoes and fresh herbs and bake another 10 minutes or until squash and potatoes are fork tender and the tomatoes are ‘wilted’. Splash a bit of balsamic vinegar over the top of the cooked vegetables, if desired, and gently stir to combine.
Serve topped with crumbled feta, if desired, or cool and serve warm or cold over a bed of fresh mixed lettuce drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette.
2-3 cups new potatoes
1 small butternut squash (2-3 cups cubed)
1/4 cup olive oil
1-2 cups artichoke hearts packed in water, drained
1-2 cups assorted small and/or cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup fresh herbs, thyme or oregano
1 tsp cumin (or more to taste)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 Tbsn balsamic vinegar (optional)
1/2 cup feta (optional)
2-3 cups new potatoes