Dine on a gorgous rainbow of fruits and vegetables, nutritionsts like to remind us, and we'll net nature's full spectrum of health-promoting nutrients. But what does an "eat-your-colors" diet look like after the first few salad bar creations? We've come up with a handful of inspiring dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner that taste as vivid as they look.
Good Sources: red wine, red grapes
Benefits: The wonder-working polyphenol neutralizes free radicals and may inhibit inflammation.
Cooking Tip: For a quick hit, roast whole grapes with garlic and fresh thyme. Add frozen grapes to fruit salad (bonus: they'll keep the dish chilled).
Good Source: chile peppers
Benefits: Hot stuff, indeed: This helps stave off hunger and even burns some calories. It also relieves pain.
Cooking Tip: Add minced chiles to scrambled eggs and stir-fries.
Good Sources: tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit, bell peppers
Benefits: A diet rich in this carotenoid may reduce the risk of prostate cancer by as much as 35 percent.
Cooking Tip: The body best absorbs lycopene when combined with fat: Toss tomatoes and watermelon with olive oil and feta. Canned tomatoes are a smart staple during the fruit's off season; lycopene content may even increase in foods processed at high temperatures.
Beet Pasta with Ricotta
Whole-grain spaghetti gets striking color from a quick toss with pureed beets (a prime source of the phytonutrient betalain). Sun-dried tomatoes -- richer in lycopene than fresh ones -- lend the sauce a caramelized sweetness.
1 pound red beets, trimmed, scrubbed
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1 tablespoon chopped tomatoes
12 ounces farro spaghetti
1/2 cup fresh ricotta
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Drizzle beets with oil and season with salt. Wrap tightly in foil and roast until tender, 1 hour. Peel and chop once cool.
2. Pulse beets, walnuts, and tomatoes in a food processor. Season with salt and red-pepper flakes.
3. Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup water, and return to pot.
4. Toss with beet mixture, adding pasta water until creamy. Serve with ricotta, a drizzle of oil, and red-pepper flakes.
Related: 35 Pantry Staples for Healthy Eating
Good Source: turmeric
Benefits: An added perk to take-out curry: The antioxidant properties of curcumin may help counter the body's negative responses to high-fat foods.
Cooking Tip: Mix the spice into salad dressings or sprinkle it on cooked vegetables such as kale and cauliflower.
Good Sources: Papaya, tangerines
Benefits: This carotenoid plays an important role in vision and in bone and cell growth.
Good Sources: sweet potatoes, carrots, winter squash, cantaloupe
Benefits: This mighty antiager, which converts to vitamin A in the body, bolsters immunity.
Cooking Tip: Like other carotenoids, it's best absorbed with fat: Roast vegetables with oil; pair cantaloupe with avocado.
Hesperidin and Naringenin:
Good Sources: Citrus
Benefits: The powerful flavonoids stave off inflammation and blood vessel damage caused by poor diets.
Cooking Tip: Broil citrus slices sprinkled with a pinch of raw sugar and serve over oatmeal.
Roasted Sweet Peppers and Carrots with Orange and Hazelnuts
Fresh slices of citrus give a jolt of energy to roasted peppers and carrots while also complementing their natural sweetness. Goat cheese adds a satisfying creamy tang, but sherry vinegar is the real secret weapon here, bringing out the floral notes of the fruit.
2 small orange bell peppers, halved and seeded
5 medium carrots, trimmed, scrubbed, and halved
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 navel orange, peel and pith removed, sliced
1 clementine, peel and pith removed, sliced
1/4 cup fresh goat cheese
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle peppers and carrots with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast, flipping once, until golden brown and tender, about 20 minutes.
2. Arrange roasted carrots and peppers with the citrus on a platter. Top with crumbled goat cheese and hazelnuts. Whisk vinegar and remaining 2 tablespoons oil; season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over vegetables.
Good Source: pineapple
Benefits: This enzyme may ease indigestion and asthma.
Cooking Tip: Grilled pineapple slices make a sweet, simple dessert, and chopped cubes go well with a little Greek yogurt.
Good Sources: citrus
Benefits: These may lower cholesterol and protect against breast, skin, and stomach cancers.
Cooking Tip: Zest away: Limonoids are concentrated in citrus peel. For dinner, bake fish with Meyer lemon slices -- then eat the fruit, skin and all.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin:
Good Sources: corn, leafy greens
Benefits This duo keeps eyes strong, protecting the retina and reducing the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
Cooking Tip: Grill corn and top with feta and cayenne. Preserve kernels in the freezer; this may increase lutein levels.
Pineapple, Mango, and Meyer Lemon Salad
The classic pairing of pineapple and coconut goes even more tropical with juicy mango. Meyer lemons, which have a sweet-tart flavor, are so delicate they can go in skin-on.
1 pineapple, skin removed, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 mango, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 Meyer lemon, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced, seeds removed, plus 1 tablespoon fresh juice
1/2 cup toasted unsweetened coconut flakes
1. Combine fruit and lemon juice in a bowl. Top with coconut flakes.
Related: 25 New Ways to Eat Avocados
Good Sources: watercress, leeks, arugula, parsley
Benefits: Present in virtually every green plant food (even pistachios!), this may decrease the risk of liver cancer.
Cooking Tip: Leeks are milder than onions; thinly sliced, they make a delicious addition to salads.
Apigenin and Luteolin:
Good Sources: celery, parsley
Benefits: This pair's neuroprotective properties may fight diseases like Alzheimer's.
Cooking Tip: Add parsley to salads. Sliced celery, plain yogurt, and lemon juice make a simple dip.
Good Source: green tea
Benefits: Consumption of freshly brewed leaves may lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Cooking Tip: Blend brewed green tea with frozen berries and honey for a smoothie.
Good Sources: Kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli
Benefits: Found in cruciferous vegetables, these help purge the body of potential carcinogens.
Cooking Tip: Raw foods offer the most potent supply. For a no-cook side, marinate thinly sliced brussels sprouts in olive oil and lemon juice and toss with sliced apple.
Broccoli-Spinach Soup with Avocado Toasts
No cream required: Tahini gives this soup its buttery flavor and silky texture -- and makes a serving of dark leafy greens unusually enticing. Sliced avocado dressed with lemon and sprouts jazzes up ordinary crusty bread and rounds out this balanced meal.
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 leek, white and pale green parts thinly sliced
4 cups low-sodium chicken stock or water
1 bunch broccoli, chopped (6 cups)
6 ounces baby spinach (6 cups)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons tahini
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 slices rustic bread, toasted
2 avocados, sliced
1/4 cup radish sprouts
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add leek and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Add stock; bring to a boil. Add broccoli and cook, covered, until bright green and tender, about 2 minutes.
2. Remove from heat. Stir in spinach, Parmesan, and tahini. Let cool slightly. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Working in batches, puree soup in a blender until smooth.
4. Top bread with avocado and radish sprouts. Season with salt and pepper, squeeze with lemon, and drizzle with oil.
Good Sources: purple cauliflower, purple cabbage
Benefits: Derived from sulfur compounds in cruciferous veggies, these may slow the metabolism of carcinogens.
Cooking Tip: Steam cauliflower: it's likely the best prep for retaining indoles. Toss chopped kale with mashed avocado and olive oil.
Good Sources: berries
Benefits: The phytochemical may lessen the effect of estrogen in promoting breast-cancer cell growth.
Cooking Tip: Keep frozen berries on hand for smoothies. For a spritzer, mash them and top with club soda.
Good Sources: red cabbage, eggplant, grapes, berries
Benefits: These antioxidants improve brain function and balance, and they may reduce the risk of cancer, stroke, and heart disease.
Cooking Tip: Try swapping in finely shredded cabbage for your typical salad greens and toss with avocado and red onion.
Black Rice Stir-Fry
Not your average stir-fry: Black rice takes on a deep purple hue when cooked and makes for a dramatic and more nutritious dinner plate. Plus, spoonful for spoonful, the dark grain has more anthocyanin antioxidants than blueberries. Japanese eggplant brings meatiness; red cabbage supplies fresh crunch.
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
12 ounces firm tofu, drained, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 Japanese eggplant, halved lengthwise and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts separated)
1/4 head red cabbage, sliced (4 cups)
1/2 bunch purple kale, torn into 2-inch pieces (3 cups)
2 cups cooked black rice (1 cup dry)
1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1. Preheat a wok over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add 1 tablespoon oil, swirling to coat. Season tofu with salt and cook until golden and crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside. Add 1 tablespoon oil and cook eggplant, stirring, until golden and tender, about 4 minutes. Remove and set aside. Add remaining tablespoon oil and cook ginger, garlic, and scallion whites, stirring, 1 minute. Add cabbage, kale, and 1/4 cup water and cook, stirring, until kale is tender, about 3 minutes.
2. Mix in rice. Once heated through, add tofu and eggplant. Stir in Sriracha and soy sauce.
3. Remove from heat; stir in lime juice. Garnish with scallion greens.
We've got your colors covered with this winter friendly salad.