- Author: Pam Devine
When my daughter was a young swimmer, she wanted to collect a ribbon of every color. Picking up on this, my husband and I encouraged her to eat many colored fruits and vegetables as a game. Red strawberries, green kiwis, and hmmm, what kind of fruit is white? Bananas! Then we have green cucumbers, red peppers, purple eggplant. You get the picture.
We all know we need to eat more fruits and vegetables, so why not make it a game? If you had an orange with your cereal for breakfast, have a spinach salad with red onions, mushrooms and sprinkle of bacon for lunch and blueberries on yogurt for your afternoon snack. Let’s see, that covers orange, green, red, white and blue. I guess we’re having a spaghetti dinner! It’s interesting that much of the nutritional value of a particular vegetable can be found by just looking at the color of it.
- Red — lycopene, anthocyanins — Heart and circulation health, urinary tract health, memory function
- Yellow/orange — carotenoids, bioflavenoids — Vision health, healthy immune system, heart health
- White — phytochemicals — Cholesterol levels, heart health
- Green — indoles, lutein — Healthy bones and teeth, vision health
- Blue/purple — anthocyanins, phenoles — Healthy aging, urinary tract health, memory function Phenol
Now that we know what the colors do for us, let’s make sure to keep all the nutrients we can. After planning, shopping and preparing, you don’t want to cook the health right out of your veggies! Of course most people eat their fruit raw, which, in general, is the best thing to do with all fruits and vegetables. An exception is tomatoes. Heat processing actually enhances the nutritional value of tomatoes by increasing the lycopene content that can be absorbed by the body, as well as the total antioxidant activity. The best way to cook veggies is to steam or stir-fry for the shortest time possible. If you can avoid it, don’t boil your vegetables as their nutrients leach into the water.
Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that keep you and your family healthy and thriving. Try adding more colors to your diet today starting with this delicious recipe from Family Fun magazine.
Chicken Lo Mein
The best part about this colorful dish is its versatility -- you can pick and choose the vegetables you include to accommodate your family's tastes.
- Cook the noodles according to the package directions until just tender. Drain out the water. Rinse the noodles with cold water, drain them well, and then set them aside.
- In a small bowl, mix the hoisin sauce, chicken broth, soy sauce, sesame oil, and cornstarch. Then set the sauce aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a large wok or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Stir-fry the ginger for 30 seconds. Then add the onion and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and carrots and stir-fry 2 minutes more. Finally, add the broccoli, pea pods, and corn. Stir-fry the vegetables for 2 more minutes, then transfer them to a plate.
- Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the pan. Add half of the chicken and stir-fry it until it's no longer pink, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer it to another plate. Stir-fry the remaining chicken, then return the first batch to the pan. Add the cooked noodles, vegetables, and sauce. Turn the heat down to medium.
- Using two spatulas or wooden spoons, lightly toss the mixture until heated through, about 3 minutes. Serves 6 to 8.