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  • Writer's pictureLaura Heely

Say goodbye to beige (on your plate)

10 easy tips to add more colour to your diet

Unless you're living in a tropical paradise like Bali (where I'm penning this blog post), shifting your mindset to eating a colourful diet takes some planning. Since I began my quest to eat the rainbow each day, I've noticed a considerable shift in the way I shop, cook, and eat. The tips below have been beneficial for me, and I hope they can help you too!

1. Shop with colour in mind

It goes without saying that adding more colour to your diet starts at the grocery store. Since starting to focus on the colour of my plant-based foods, I've discovered tons of new recipes with new and old favourite ingredients. Consider colour-coding your shopping list to ensure you're buying a rainbow of fruits and veg each week. Alternatively, peeping in your shopping cart after you've hit the produce aisle should do. the trick.

2. Start with small swaps

It's important to mix up your plant foods to make sure you're getting the full range of nutrients our body needs. Nutritionists recommend aiming for 10 different plant foods a day, and 30 different ones a week (including herbs)! As with many things, I'd suggest beginning with the "low-hanging fruit," or in this case, adding a new ingredient one at a time. Fancy pesto pasta? Add a few tomatoes. Having a yogurt? Throw in some berries. You get the idea.

3. Make your plate a piece of art

Plating has never been my strong suit. By the time I've finished making my food, I'm ready to tuck in, not sprinkle a raspberry coulis. However, when I can take a bit of extra time, I find I enjoy the meal more fully as a sensory experience. Taking an artistic approach to plating your meals helps focus the mind on colour, & ups your potential Instagram game - if that's what you're into.

4. Experiment with herbs and spices

Herbs & spices pack tons of flavour and nutrients in small sizes. Did you know that even parsley - the most humble of garnishes - is an excellent of vitamins K and C, and contains vitamin A, folate and iron? If you don't have outdoor space, consider picking up a few pots of your favourite herbs, and stocking up on dried alternatives. Herbs & spices are an easy way to add nutrients, flavour, and colour to your meals.

5. Mix up your favourite veg

Romanesco, the world's most beautiful cauliflower

Our favourite vegetables often come in a range of colours, and each has different combination of vitamins & minerals. They also tend to taste slightly different, so we like to put a mix of different colours in one dish. We've recently discovered Romanesco (known in our kitchen as dinosaur cauliflower), which is slightly nutty and super crunchy. I'd recommend buying a mix of colours next time for maximum health benefits!

6. Reach for raw snacks

Snack time has a high probability of veering towards beige for me, given my love of all things salty. Healthier (and more colourful) options like fresh or dried fruit, vegetables, and nuts give you much more bang for your buck, and keep you fuller longer due to high levels of fibre. If you're craving something salty, popcorn with turmeric is nutritional & bright!

7. Choose colourful carbs

Adopting a Scandi-style approach to carbs adds flavour and nutrients to your diet. While I don't think I'll ever be able to get over my life-long love of pasta, bread is a category where I'm happy to experiment. Mix up your bread routine by trying rye, whole wheat, and seedy loaves. Not ready to go full whole wheat? Tons of recipes offer opportunities to dip your toe into the water with 50/50 white and whole wheat flours. I'll take it.

8. Decorate your toast

A smorgasbord of smørrebrød (Marcus Nilsson for Saveur)

Speaking of Scandi, have you ever tried smørre­brød (basically an open faced sandwich from Denmark)? When it comes to an open-faced sandwich, the combinations are endless. Yummy toppings include nut butters with sliced banana for a high protein snack, smashed avocado with tomato and herbs, and hummus with radishes. The Scandis favour pickled herring and crayfish salad, but this post is about colourful plants, so I'll stick with some golden and red beets and a bit of goat cheese.

9. Make pasta all about the veg

Pasta, by definition, is not the more colourful of options. I love it anyway. For me, pasta is a perfect vehicle for veg - easy, quick, and cozy. Making vegetables the star of your next pasta dish adds colour, flavour, and nutrients. Plus, most of the time it takes less time to cook than it does to boil the water for your pasta. Another popular option is swapping your noodles for zoodles (zucchini noodles). Half and half is also a good option - so long as you watch the cooking time!

10. Keep track of your rainbow

In general, the colour of fruits and vegetables is a good indicator of the health benefits it provides. Keeping track of your daily colour intake helps make sure you're getting a full range of nutrients. Nutritionists haven't yet found an optimal combination, but keeping the mantra "eat the rainbow" in mind is a good place to start. Check out eat the rainbow's free app, or draw your own version!

#healthy #healthyeating #eattherainbow #plantbased

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