No, obviously, we aren’t suggesting you reach for a bag of Skittles. Today, we are talking about the importance of choosing a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables into your diet, and not just because they look pretty . Check out the simple ratatouille recipe below for an easy way to use up any extra produce hanging out in your fridge and get the benefits of eating a colorful meal.
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Color Me Healthy
Chances are you’ve been told a million times how important it is to eat fruits and vegetables, but did you know it is equally important to regularly eat fruits and vegetables of different colors? Yep, eating only green vegetables at every meal is not as beneficial as filling up your plate with green, blues, reds, and yellows. This is because fruits and vegetables within different color families contain different phytonutrients. Phytonutrients only exists in plant foods and act as antioxidants, protect against disease and regenerate other essential nutrients. For example,
Yellow / Orange fruit and vegetables contain Caretonoids, which promote eye health
Red fruit and vegetables contain Lycopene, which protects against cancer and promotes heart health
Blue / Purple fruit and vegetables contain Anthocyanin, which protects against cancer, stroke and heart disease
Greenfruit and vegetables contain Isothiocyanate, which assists in the removal of carcinogenic compounds from the body
Coach E.’s Takeaway: Get out of your ‘veggie rut’ and introduce new fruits and vegetables regularly to make sure you are getting the greatest range of benefits.
1 medium or 2 small eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch dice
Salt to taste
3 ripe medium tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 medium summer squash, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 sweet peppers, cut into 1/2-inch dice
Pinch of dried chile flakes
1/2 bunch of basil, tied in a bouquet with kitchen twine + 6 basil leaves, chopped
4 to 6 garlic cloves, chopped
2 medium onions, cut into 1/2-inch dice
4 tbsp olive oil, divided, plus more to taste
Toss the eggplant cubes with a teaspoon or so of salt. Set the cubes in a colander to drain for about 20 minutes.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot. Pat the eggplant dry, add to the pan, and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden. Add a bit more oil if the eggplant absorbs all the oil and sticks to the bottom of the pan. Remove the eggplant when done and set aside.
In the same pot, pour in 2 more tablespoons olive oil. Add onions and cook for about 7 minutes, or until soft and translucent. Add the garlic, basil bouquet, dried chile flakes, and a bit more salt.
Cook for 2 or 3 minutes, then stir in peppers. Cook for a few more minutes, then stir in summer squash. Cook for a few more minutes, then stir in tomatoes.
Cook for 10 minutes longer, then stir in eggplant and cook for 10 to 15 minutes more, until all the vegetables are soft. Remove the bouquet of basil and adjust the seasoning with salt.
***Add in a can of white beans here to make this a complete meal***
Stir in the chopped basil leaves and more extra virgin olive oil, to toast. Enjoy, either warm or cold!