I love intensity when it comes to food, in flavor and in color. The sharp taste of garlic, the vibrant red of tomatoes, the bitter tang of arugula… and lucky for me, the same things that pump up the color and the taste are also really, really beneficial to health. Garlic’s bite, tomatoes’ hue, and arugula’s spice all come from phytochemicals, good-for-us chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants. So does garlic’s bite and tomatoes’ hue.
How incredible that the components that make natural foods so easy on the eyes and so tangy on the taste buds are also substances that help your body fight disease! For instance, lycopene, which makes tomatoes red, promotes heart health. Allicin, found in garlic, has antimicrobial properties. And it’s thought that indoles, found in arugula, have cancer-fighting properties.
If deeper colors and piquant flavors mean more nutrients, you’ve got a great excuse to fill your plate with peppery leafy greens, chewy whole grains, crunchy nuts and seeds, sweet yellow peppers, spicy dark green jalapeños, purple eggplants, pink watermelons, red raspberries.
Next time you make a salad, chop by color. Try raw broccoli, spinach, and green leaf lettuce chopped up into bite-size pieces, shredded red cabbage, chopped red tomatoes, sliced green avocados, fresh green peas and some raw sunflower seeds or maybe chickpeas or black beans. Serve it over brown rice. Chop in the green part of a scallion and some herbs, because basil and cilantro are both colorful and flavorful. Squeeze some lemon over the top, add a nice drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper, and you’ve got yourself an EXCELLENT MEAL. That rainbow on your plate means your health is golden.
— Sandra Bark