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Health November 2014

Rainbow Kitchen

Reds and Greens for the Holidays

By Allison St. Claire

Some simple red and green possibilities: a simple variation of cole slaw made with a combination of red and green cabbage. Toss in some red apple slices or slivers, halved cherry tomatoes or red grapes. Top tomato soup with sliced green onion stems. Bake your next tomato-topped pizza with sliced green peppers.

OK, so it’s the holiday season. Red and green wrapping paper, themed clothing, specialty table decorations. Why not fill your healthy plate with those festive colors as well?

Red vegetables contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals in the body. It has been linked to reduced risk of inflammation, formation of plaque in the arteries, cardiovascular diseases and certain types of cancer, particularly prostate cancer and breast cancer. Lycopene is more easily absorbed by the body with fat so it is best to cook red vegetables in a bit of oil, use an oil-based dressing on tomato salad, or serve red berries with cream or full-fat yogurt. Tomatoes by the way, have the highest concentration of lycopene, so feel free to find lots of ways to use tomatoes (fresh in season, otherwise canned).

Another phytochemical present in red-colored vegetables is anthocyanin which helps in lowering high blood pressure levels as well as reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. It can also help in reducing tumor growth and cholesterol levels in the body.

Red vegetables also contain vitamin A and C. Both these vitamins are required for the proper functioning of the body and to protect against cardiovascular diseases, eye diseases and immune system deficiencies. Red vegetables are also rich in flavonoids that protects against lung diseases and asthma. Consumption of flavonoids has also been linked to the reduction in the risk of several types of cancer and heart diseases, plus there’s potassium and iron which are essential nutrients required for several bodily functions.

And, just in case some reminders would be helpful, some common red foods: tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, tomato juice, tomato soup, red peppers, red onions, beets, red cabbage, kidney beans, apples, pink grapefruit, red grapes, strawberries, cherries, pomegranates, watermelon and raspberries. And the most ubiquitous holiday fruit – cranberries!

Some simple red and green possibilities: a simple variation of cole slaw made with a combination of red and green cabbage. Satisfying, the “right” colors, and extremely healthy. Want to add some more color? Toss in some red apple slices or slivers, halved cherry tomatoes or red grapes. Top tomato soup with sliced green onion stems. Bake your next tomato-topped pizza with sliced green peppers.

Moving on to cranberries for a crowd. (Or don’t wait for your next potluck or big gathering. Use those fractions you learned in 4th grade to reduce this to your needs.) Here’s one of my favorite concoctions, originally published in Taste of Home.


 

Ambrosia Waldorf Salad

2 cups fresh or frozen cranberry halves

Shredded or flaked coconut

½ cup sugar

3 cups miniature marshmallows

2 cups diced unpeeled apples

1 cup seedless green grape halves

3/4 cup chopped pecans

1 can pineapple tidbits, drained

1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped

 

In a small bowl, combine cranberries and sugar. In a large bowl, combine the marshmallows, apples, grapes, pecans and pineapple. Add cranberries and mix well. Fold in whipped cream. Cover and refrigerate. Sprinkle with coconut before serving. Yield: 12-14 servings.

http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/ambrosia-waldorf-salad
   

Green vegetables are packed with nutrients and phytochemicals substances which help fight disease and improve health. Lutein is a powerful antioxidant found in green leafy vegetables that help to maintain good vision. Cataracts, which occur naturally during the aging process, cause some degree of vision loss in almost everyone over the age of 65. Eating green vegetables rich in lutein helps reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.

Indoles are another group of phytochemicals found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. Indoles help protect against breast cancer (which affects one out of every eight women in the U.S.) and prostate cancer (which affects one out of every six men in the U.S.).

Partial list of green goodies: leafy greens, asparagus, green peppers, broccoli, green beans, peas, cabbage, green onion, Brussels sprouts, okra, zucchini, Chinese cabbage, green apple, green grapes, honeydew melon, kiwi fruit, limes.

And, finally, some delicious, quickie, red on green possibilities. Saute red pepper slices (bell or hot chiles) in some butter or coconut oil and toss with garlicky green beans. Ditto with red tomatoes and beans. Garnish split pea soup with slivers of red onion. Sprinkle a green salad with pomegranate seeds or tomatoes or red onions or red cabbage or red apple. Or garnish a plate of peas with bits of pimento.

Happy, healthy, tasty holidays, everyone!

 


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Allison St. Claire loves to dream about, study, grow, play with, prepare and ultimately enjoy eating great food.

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