Spring is almost here. With the new buds forming and the warm weather approaching, I want to take the time to ask, do you eat the rainbow everyday? Fotolia_16261243_S

Fruit, vegetables, and other plant-based foods all have strong pigments, vitamins, minerals, and fiber that are important to our daily health. Called phytochemicals, these pigments are important in combating daily stress from both the environment and within and keeping the body in fighting health. From white to red to green to blue and all the colors in between, fruit, vegetables, grains, and legumes come in colors from across the rainbow. A great way to see if you are getting all the phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other natural substances you need is to count your colors.

Not sure which colors are missing from your diet? Keep track of all of the colorful fruit, vegetables, and legumes you currently eat. ShopWell's sharable list feature makes this easy. Just go to ShopWell and starting making a list of all the fruit, vegetables, and other plant-based food you have eaten in the past few days. Then go back once a day for three days and continue to add. 

Once you have a record of the food you are eating, scan the list and mark all of the red fruit and vegetables, then mark all of the orange, and so on through the rainbow. Which colors are you missing or
lowest on? The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 recommend paying special attention to making sure you get enough dark green and red/orange fruit and vegetables, so make sure you get a few extras of these.

Now that you have a baseline. Set a goal to buy a Fotolia_10517248_S nd try one new fruit or vegetable in a color you need each time you go to the store.

Want some suggestions? Here are some lists of colorful fresh fruits and vegetables to get you started.

Red Fruit and Vegetables like beets, raspberries, and radishes. 

Orange/Yellow Fruit and Vegetables like squash, sweet potatoes, and orange peppers.

Green Fruit and Vegetables (the darker the better) like swiss chard, kale, and honeydew. 

Blue/Purple Fruit and Vegetables like eggplant, plums, and blueberries. 

White Fruit and Vegetables like garlic, onions, and mushrooms. 

Colorful Grains, Legumes, and Nuts like brown rice, pinto beans, and pistachios.

Also, browse the Fruit, Vegetables, Rice, and Nuts & Seeds categories to find more options. Fresh, frozen, even canned (rinse well) all work. The importance is to get a variety of different colors.

Now that you have your fruit and vegetables home, the key is to actually eat them. Try to get one or more servings of fruit and vegetables at every meal. Here are some great tips for getting more fruit and vegetables, of any color, into your diet. Fotolia_1191122_XS

For breakfast, add onions, peppers, and asparagus to eggs. Or add a side of black or pinto beans with a spoonful of salsa.

For lunch, try going to the local salad bar and make a salad of a variety of items-plant-based-one red, one orange, etc. Each time you go back try making a different combination to get a variety of different flavors, textures, and nutrients.

For snack, raw vegetables like carrots, celery, or even cold cooked vegetables from the night before all work well. Drizzle a little olive oil, a sprinkle of parmesean cheese, or dip in a mixure of chopped spinach and greek yogurt.

Fotolia_2077880_S For dinner, fill half your plate with vegetables before you add your meat and starch. Roasting, grilling, or even making vegetable soup are all great ways to vary the taste.

For dessert, try snacking on frozen berries, pineapple, or even mango or heat canned peaches or pears in the microwave with a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg and eat with some cool plain yogurt.

So start making your list on ShopWell today and see which colors you should be adding into your diet!

For more great ways to get more fruit, vegetables, and other plant-based foods into you diet, visit the ADA's Nutrition Education Resources page and read my blog titled Eat More Fruit and Veggies. Try Grilling Them! 

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