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SALT LAKE CITY -- The American Dietetic Association has dubbed March National Nutrition Month. As it tries to educate people about eating healthier, it is focusing on getting people to "eat right with color."
People are supposed to get five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day, which can be difficult. But registered dietitian Jennie Twitchell says it doesn't have to be mundane.
She breaks various options down into color groups and shows how you can use fruits and vegetables in non-traditional ways, like using purees in baked goods or mixing leafy greens into smoothies.
Twitchell says color is important in a diet because the phytochemicals that make up the colors have health benefits. Each color group is produced by different phytochemicals, so she says you want to combine different colors to get the benefits of all of them.
RED Apples, apple crisp/cobbler
Yield: 8 servings
Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly oil 8x8 baking dish.
4 apples, cored & cut into 1/4 inch dice
2 tsp. cinnamon
3 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 C. whole wheat flour
1/2 C. oats
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 C. sugar
2/3 C. milk
1/2 C. maple syrup
3 Tbsp. canola oil
1/2 tsp. salt
In a medium bowl, toss together apples and cinnamon. Distribute mixture in pan and drizzle with 3 Tbsp. maple syrup.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, oats, sugar and baking powder.
In another bowl, whisk together milk, maple syrup, oil, and salt. Add to the flour mixture and stir thoroughly to combine. Spoon the batter evenly over the apples. Bake until top is brown, about 45 minutes.
ORANGE/YELLOW Butternut squash, pureed in cheese sauce
Yield: 4 servings
1 1/2 C. whole wheat pasta
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 Tbsp. flour
1 C. milk
1 C. butternut squash puree
1 C. cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. white pepper
Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, set aside. While the pasta is cooking, mix oil and flour in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until mixture resembles a thick paste. Cook for 1-2 minutes but do not let it brown. Add the milk 1/4 cup at a time until the mixture begins to thicken. Do not let it boil.
Add butternut squash puree, mix thoroughly; remove from heat. Stir in cheese until it's melted and the sauce is smooth. Add seasonings; stir well. Stir pasta into sauce and serve warm.
GREEN Arugula/kale/spinach, green smoothie
Yield: 4 cups
2 oranges, peeled, quartered
5 kale leaves
5 arugula leaves
Water and/or ice
Place everything but water into blender. On medium speed, mix until contents are too thick. Add a little bit of water and mix again. Repeat until smoothie is mixed to desired texture and consistency, adding ice to thicken and chill if desired.
BLUE/PURPLE Eggplant, ratatouille
Yield: 4-6 servings
1 lb. tomatoes
4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 C. fresh parsley, chopped
10 fresh basil leaves, halved
1/2 C. olive oil
1 lb. eggplant, cut into 1" cubes
1 large onion, thinly sliced
12 oz. bell peppers, cut into 1" pieces
12 oz. zucchini, cut into 3/4" pieces
1/2 tsp. black pepper
Blanch and peel tomatoes. Chop tomatoes coarsely and transfer to a 5 quart heavy pot with garlic, parsley, basil, and 1/3 cup oil. Simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes break down and sauce thickens; about 30 minutes. While sauce is simmering, toss eggplant with 1/2 tsp. salt in large colander and let stand in sink 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook onions in 3 Tbsp. oil with ¼ tsp. salt in 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 10-12 minutes. Transfer onions with slotted spoon to a large bowl. Add 3 Tbsp. oil to skillet and cook bell peppers with 1/4 tsp. salt over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Transfer peppers with slotted spoon to bowl with onions.
Add 3 Tbsp. oil to skillet and cook zucchini with 1/4 tsp. salt over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 6-8 minutes. Transfer zucchini with slotted spoon to bowl with other vegetables.
While the zucchini is cooking, pat eggplant dry with paper towels. Add remaining oil to skillet and cook eggplant over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 10-12 minutes. Add vegetables, remaining salt, and black pepper to tomato sauce and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very tender, about 1 hour. Cool, uncovered, and serve warm or at room temperature.
Or for a simpler version, visit http://www.cookingforengineers.com/recipe/227/Ratatouille
WHITE: banana, banana bread
Yield: 2 loaves or 24 muffins
Preheat oven to 350 F.
1 C. sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 C. canola oil
1/2 C. pureed white beans
1 C. applesauce
3 C. whole wheat flour
1 C. white flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Cream the sugar and eggs together until light and fluffy.Whip in the oil until mixture is smooth.Add white bean puree, applesauce, and smashed bananas; mix well.
Slowly stir in flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and vanilla; combine well but do not over mix. Pour into 2 greased loaf pans (9x5) or lined muffin tins and bake for 60 minutes (for bread) or 25 minutes (for muffins) or until golden brown on top and toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Twitchell says red fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of prostate cancer, lower blood pressure, reduce bad cholesterol levels and support joint tissue.
Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables may reduce age-related macular degeneration, promote collagen formation, fight harmful free radicals, build healthy bones and reduce cholesterol and blood pressure.
Green fruits and vegetables can help reduce cancer risks, normalize digestion time, support retinal health and boost the immune system.
Blue and purple fruits and vegetables may fight inflammation, lower bad cholesterol, limit the activity of cancer cells, improve mineral absorption and support healthy digestion.
She says white fruits and vegetables provide powerful immune boosting activity, may help reduce the risk of colon, breast, and prostate cancers and help balance hormone levels.