Eat the Rainbow: 22 Colorful Recipes Packed with Nutrients

  • By Jennifer Mulder
  • 20 May 2024
  • 6 minute read
How to Eat the Rainbow: 22 Colorful Recipes Packed with Nutrients | The Health Sessions

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Have you ever noticed how ‘beige’ the standard Western diet is?

Many of us love toast and cereals for breakfast, have sandwiches for lunches, snack on crackers and cake in between meals, and enjoy mac and cheese, noodles or chicken nuggets with potatoes for dinner. A tasty as these meals are, beige plates of food do not provide all the essential nutrients your body needs to function well.

Why you should ‘Eat the rainbow’

Vitamins, minerals, fibers and antioxidants perform hundreds of vital roles in your body, from healing wounds to strengthening bones and repairing cellular damage. But your body cannot produce these raw materials itself.

To ensure you get in all the necessary nutrients, you should eat a wide range of foods. And one effortless way to cover you nutritional basics is to ‘eat the rainbow’.

You see, plants have pigments that give them their color – and each color is associated with different phytonutrients that support your health in their own way:

  • Red: Lycopene is a potent antioxidant that gives tomatoes, grapefruit, watermelon and red peppers their pink-red color. It helps to fight free radicals that damage your cells, and may help to protect against heart disease, some forms of cancer and sun-damage to your skin. Red fruits and vegetables are usually also high in vitamin A and C.
  • Orange and yellow: Oranges, carrots, peaches and pumpkin are rich in potassium, vitamin C and beta-carotene, a plant pigment that is converted to vitamin A in your body. Beta-carotene supports your eye health, strengthens your immunity, reduces inflammation and prevents the build-up of plaque in the arteries.
  • Green: Chlorophyll is the compound in green plants like spinach, cabbage and parsley, that’s known to lower your risk of cancer. Leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables also contain plenty of health-boosting minerals like iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium.
  • Blue and Purple: Anthocyanins are a group of antioxidants found in red, blue and purple foods, like black currants, cherries, blueberries, grapes and red onions. These natural compounds help to prevent cellular again, support good brain health and protect against type 2 diabetes and cancer.

That’s why eating fruits and vegetables with different colors every day is an easy strategy to add more variation to your diet. You don’t have to carefully track your nutrient intake, instead your eyes will give you an indication of what you’re consuming.

Of course there will be times when you’re too sick, stressed or busy to focus on getting all your vitamins and minerals in, and that’s ok. That’s when adding one scoop of AG1 – a comprehensive blend of over 70 nutrients – to your drink once a day can come in handy.

And when it comes to your food, the great news is you don’t have to change your entire diet – you can just add pops of color to your usual meals!

Get inspired to eat the rainbow by the helpful strategies below, including 22 colorful recipes packed with nutrients.

1. All the Breakfast Toppings

What better way to start the day than with a brightly-colored breakfast! No need to wake up earlier to cook a healthy dish, just adapt your go-to morning meal.

Add (frozen) berries to your granola, or opt for a savory yogurt bowl with cucumber, tomatoes and lemon. Top your usual oatmeal with blueberries and cacao nibs, or grated carrots and raisins. And with toast you can go classic with avocado and egg or take the sweet route with strawberries and ricotta.

Here are some everyday breakfast recipes with extra pops of color to get you started:

Bircher Muesli from How Sweet Eats

How to Eat the Rainbow: Bircher Muesli by How Sweet Eats | The Health Sessions

4 Healthy Yogurt Bowls from The Clean Eating Couple

How to Eat the Rainbow: 4 Healthy Yogurt Bowls from The Clean Eating Couple | The Health Sessions

Avocado Toast with Pomegranate from Dishing Out Health

How to Eat the Rainbow: Avocado Toast with Pomegranate by Dishing Out Health | The Health Sessions

Cinnamon Peanut Butter and Cranberry Jelly Spread from Patience

How to Eat the Rainbow: Peanut Butter an Cranberry Jelly from Patience | The Health Sessions

2. Green up your lunch

Of course you could easily eat the rainbow by having a salad bowl for lunch. But what can you do to add a touch of color to your usual cheese sandwich or pita pocket?

You can mix in some red with tomatoes and(store-bought) roasted peppers on your bun, while radishes and red onions will give your toasties a touch of pink-purple. But the ideal color to level up your lunch is green. From micro greens and garden cress to lettuce, cucumber, arugula and avocado, there’s an abundance of choices to get your dose of nutrients in at midday!

Take a look at some easy ways to green up your good old sandwich, wrap and even pizza:

Green Goddess Grilled Cheese Sandwich from The Modern Proper

How to Eat the Rainbow: Green Goddess Grilled Cheese Sandwich from The Modern Proper | The Health Sessions

Healthy Greek Chicken Pita Wrap from The College Housewife

How to Eat the Rainbow: Healthy Greek Chicken Pita Wrap from The College Housewife | The Health Sessions

Chopped Salad Pizza by Pinch of Yum

How to Eat the Rainbow: Chopped Salad Pizza from Pinch of Yum | The Health Sessions

Banh Mi Meatball Sandwiches from The Diary of Us

How to Eat the Rainbow: Banh Mi Meatball Sandwiches from The Diary of Us | The Health Sessions

Tuna Melts with Quick-Pickled Fennel from Dishing Out Health

How to Eat the Rainbow: Tuna Melts with Quick-Pickled Fennel from Dishing Out Health | The Health Sessions

3. Snack Colorfully

Feeling like a bite in between meals? Give regular snacks like rice crackers, hummus dip and salty nuts a colorful twist. Look at these bright recipes to get you started.

Fruit and Chocolate Fudge Dip from Life Well Lived

How to Eat the Rainbow:Fruit and Chocolate Fudge Dip from Life Well Lived | The Health Sessions

Almond Butter Rice Crackers, 4 Ways from Foodaliciously

How to Eat the Rainbow:Almond Butter Rice Crackers, 4 Ways from Foodaliciously | The Health Sessions

Edamame Snacks with Fruit and Nuts from Abbey’s Kitchen

How to Eat the Rainbow: Edamame Snacks with Fruit and Nuts from Abbey's Kitchen | The Health Sessions

Hummus Toast, 4 Ways from Feel Good Foodie

How to Eat the Rainbow: Hummus Toast, 4 Ways from Feel Good Foodie | The Health Sessions

Hard Boiled Egg with Veggies from Abbey’s Kitchen

How to Eat the Rainbow: Hard Boiled Egg with Veggies from Abbey's Kitchen | The Health Sessions

4. Level Up Everyday Dinners

Dinner bowls and sheet pan dinners make a tasty way to eat the rainbow. But looking at some popular dinner combos in the USA, how can you turn a beige plate of food into a brightly-colored dinner? Here are some general ideas:

  • Have a side salad with your standard dinner or start your meal with a colorful broth.
  • Is meat, potato and veg a crowd-pleaser at your home? Try to have at least 2 different kind of vegetables, whether that’s carrots and peas, green beans with mushrooms and onions, or broccoli and cauliflower. You could also occasionally swap your regular white potatoes for orange sweet potatoes or purple yams to add some color to your plate.
  • Swap part of your carbs for a vegetable version, like zucchini noodles or broccoli rice.
  • Top your bowl of pasta, fried rice or chili with colorful flavor bombs, like chili peppers, fresh basil, coriander, lime, red onions and scallions.
  • Speaking of herbs: Consider growing some fresh herbs in your garden, kitchen or window sill. To keep it affordable and easy to maintain, just choose 1 to 3 herbs that fit best with the season or your cooking style.

For more concrete tips on how to level up your everyday dinners, check out family favorite recipes with a colorful touch:

Best Instant Pot Vegetarian Chili from Platings and Pairings

How to Eat the Rainbow: Best Instant Pot Vegetarian Chili from Platings and Pairings | The Health Sessions

Sheet Pan Honey Garlic Pork Chops from XOXO Bella

How to Eat the Rainbow: Sheet Pan Honey Garlic Pork Chops from XOXO Bella | The Health Sessions

Greens Mac ‘n Cheese by Jamie Oliver

How to Eat the Rainbow: Greens Mac 'n Cheese from Jamie Oliver | The Health Sessions

Healthy Orange Chicken Stir Fry from Ambitious Kitchen

How to Eat the Rainbow: Healthy Orange Chicken Stir Fry from Ambitious Kitchen | The Health Sessions

Chicken Pesto Stuffed Sweet Potatoes from Paleo Running Momma

How to Eat the Rainbow: Chicken Pesto Stuffed Sweet Potatoes from The Paleo Running Momma | The Health Sessions

Burger Bowls with Caramelized Onion Aioli from Wandering Chickpea

How to Eat the Rainbow: Burger Bowls with Onion Aioli from Wandering Chickpea | The Health Sessions

Coconut Curry Noodle Bowls from Pinch of Yum

How to Eat the Rainbow: Coconut Curry Noodle Bowl from Pinch of Yum | The Health Sessions

Paleo Gluten-free Italian Meatballs with Zoodles from The Frayed Apron

How to Eat the Rainbow: Healthy Gluten-free Italian Meatballs with Marinara from The Frayed Apron | The Health Sessions

As you can see, you don’t have to overhaul your entire food pattern to start eating the rainbow. By adding pops of color to your regular breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner, you can easily increase your intake of essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants throughout the day, without having to carefully track those nutrients.

What can you do today to brighten up your plate? 

For more advice on eating the rainbow, learn these 7 Stress-Free Strategies to Get More Variation in Your Diet or browse the archives for colorful bowls of food, easy sheet pan dinners and refreshingly bright drinks

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