ASHEBORO — Growing up, I remember my mom often asking me what I would like to eat with the main dish she was serving for dinner.
Being a typical 10-year-old, my usual response was macaroni and cheese, tater tots or some other “beige-colored” side dish. It never failed that my mother would respond with “you need color on your plate.”
Always the caring mom, she replaced my request for macaroni and cheese with corn from the garden and my hope for tater tots was dashed with fresh green beans.
Now that I am older and wiser, I realize my mother was teaching me that rainbows look pretty in the sky, but also look pretty on your plate. I agree. They’re amazing and beautiful — not just in the sky, but also on my dinner plate.
But what does this mean? Why is it important for everyone, especially seniors, to get a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables in your diet?
We all know to eat our greens, but what about our oranges, blues, reds and yellows? Eating a diversity of colorful foods can be an easy way to get a complete range of the vitamins and minerals your body needs to thrive. To reap the benefits, it’s a good idea to include fruits and vegetables of all types — and colors — in your diet.
Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet are all colors under the rainbow. So, what’s the nutrition and rainbow connection?
Fruits and vegetables get their color from naturally occurring micronutrients — such as vitamins and phytonutrients — which are essential for good health. Dark orange or gold vegetables tend to be high in beta-carotene. Red fruits like watermelon and tomatoes contain high levels of lycopene, and orange foods like oranges and cantaloupe are good sources of vitamin C.
Let’s be honest, when it comes to eating healthy, sacrificing your favorite salty snacks and sweet desserts isn’t always easy. Even when you’re making your best effort to eat more fruits and vegetables, it can be easy to fall into the routine of eating the same ones all the time.
So, I challenge you to think, shop and cook with color in mind, packing as much color as you can into your fridges and onto your plates.
Tips to get your daily pot of gold:
* Color the rainbow: Grab some colored pens or pencils and color code your menu plans and shopping lists. Turn it into a challenge to see how many colors you can add to your list and incorporate into your daily meals. Also, make it a point each week to try a new fruit or vegetable that you might have never tasted before.
Next on my list? Dragon fruit. I have to admit the look of it kind of scares me, but I’ve heard the texture and taste resembles a kiwi, so I am hoping for the best.
* Freeze/can the rainbow: Why not make it easier and more convenient on yourself to get your daily dose of fruits and veggies? Plan ahead by freezing or canning fruits and vegetables to use in smoothies or soups. One of my mom’s all-time favorite dishes is her vegetable soup. It’s packed full of goodness and it freezes easily.
* Share the rainbow: Do you have a plentiful garden? Would you like to share your harvest with seniors in Randolph County? We would love to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to seniors and share them with our Meals-On-Wheels participants.
Feel free to drop off donations at any of our Senior Centers: Asheboro Senior Center, 347 W. Salisbury St.; Randleman Senior Center, 144 W. Academy St., Randleman; Liberty Senior Center, 128 S. Fayetteville St., Liberty; or Archdale Senior Center, 108 Park Drive, Archdale.
Randolph Senior Adults Association (RSAA) promotes health and encourages proper nutrition for seniors, ages 50 and up, all year long. During the month of July, RSAA is featuring a variety of nutrition-related presentations and classes. To learn more about how the RSAA can help you to live well and age well, call 336-625-3389 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.