Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

I don't know if you can make it out fully (this picture was taken with my phone), but there is a rainbow up there.

The other day I found myself with some extra time on my hands.  I decided to walk to my afternoon meeting rather than take the subway. Walking meant that I got to cross one of my favorite bridges in Brooklyn, the Carroll St. Bridge.

It's not the Golden Gate, I know.  The river it spans is not the Rio Grande.  It crosses the Gowanus Canal, which is an industrial waterway made infamous a while back by housing a lost whale Brooklynites nicknamed Murky.

To us New Yorkers, though, the Carroll St. Bridge is quaint and pretty. It's made of wooden slats.  Real wood! And the canal is lined with trees and dirt. Real dirt!  We even love the oil spills in the water.  They reflect, you guessed it:  rainbows.

When I walk over the bridge I am transported. I imagine that I am in a small Vermont town, on my way to the market to pick up fresh vegetables, waving hello to my neighbors who drive by in their trucks.  Life feels simpler. I feel like I can breathe easier and that there is just a little bit more room around me.

On this particular day, I was treated to a rainbow.  It was a special moment for me. I have been so busy lately and not planning enough down time for myself. The experience rejuvenated me and reminded me that we don't need to escape the city to find inspiration in nature. Beauty is everywhere, you just have to look for it and be willing to make believe just a little.

Lately I have been trying to come up with little sayings that guide people to make healthy choices, but that are easy to remember. One I really like is, "If you are not hungry enough to eat an apple, you're not hungry". 

"Eat a rainbow" is the one I want to talk about today. I loved painting rainbows as a kid, and this is a way I get to do it as an adult, only now the canvas is my plate, and my food choices are my medium.

Color is a great guide to choosing nutrient dense food. We are talking "whole" foods here. My boyfriend was quite disappointed to learn that even though CheeseWiz was orange it was not, in fact, a healthy choice. He is also now obsessed with finding more options in the elusive "blue" category.

Here are some examples of how color can help you eat wholesome and healthy:

Red fruits and veggies contain the plant pigment lycopene which is a powerful anti-oxidant and helps the body fight against cancer, cell damage, and promotes a healthy heart.
  • Tomatoes
  • Cherries
  • Cranberries
  • Strawberries
  • Radishes
  • Etc.
Orange frutis and veggies contain carotenoids, vitamin A, and beta-carotene all of which help the body with eye and heart health and immune function.
  • Butternut squash
  • Carrots
  • Apricots
  • Oranges
  • Etc.
Green fruit and veggies contain chlorophyll. Leafy greens (like spinach and kale) contain lutein. These greens can help with eye health, cancer prevention and much more. Cruciferous greens (think broccoli and brussel sprouts) contain folate which can help prevent birth defects.
  • Kale
  • Collard greens
  • Apples
  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Etc.
Blue/Purple  fruits and veggies contain the pigment anthocyanins, also powerful anti-oxiants. Studies also show that eating blueberries can lead to increased mental function. I think I need some of those right now.
  • Blackberries
  • Egglplant
  • Figs
  • Plums
  • Etc.
White fruits and veggetables contain anthoxanthins which may help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of stomach cancer.
  • Bananas
  • Cauliflower
  • Parsnips
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Etc.
Above adapted from What Color is Your Food by Julie Garden-Robinson

Taking it IN:

See how colorful you can make your meals this week.  Can you design a meal with every color represented?

Contest alert! Send me a picture of your most colorful creation for a chance to win The Kripalu Cookbook.

To get the inspiration flowing, here is a salad that I made tonight. I think I am only missing the Blue/Purple group:

Salad: baby arugula, shredded carrots and beets, avocado, topped with fried tofu and sunflower seeds.

For the tofu: heal olive oil in a skillet, cut tofu into medium sized slices, douse with spices of your choosing (I go with whatever I grab off the shelf - tonight it was garlic, oregano and paprika), flip and coat the other side, flip again until both sides are slightly browned.

Dress lightly with olive oil and rice vinegar, salt & pepper.


  1. my blue food quest has uncovered the following: blueberries, blueberry muffins, and bluefish. I need more input on this, please. love, nora's boyfriend.

  2. Dear Nora and Nora's bfriend:

    How about blue cheese...yum. Bill thought of purple potatoes and blue corn.

    We send you a giant congratulations!!!! and our love. Nora, this is a GREAT blog!

    Love, Suzy.