Viewing fruits and veggies as a dietary rainbow

KALE CHIPS:  The combination of olive oil and salt affords kale—an otherwise bitter plant—a bit of salty and sumptuous flavor.  A hint of freshly ground black pepper gives a small kick, while baking the kale into chips gives the chewy leaves a nice crunch. Photo by Bethany Turner

KALE CHIPS: The combination of olive oil and salt affords kale—an otherwise bitter plant—a bit of salty and sumptuous flavor. A hint of freshly ground black pepper gives a small kick, while baking the kale into chips gives the chewy leaves a nice crunch. Photo by Bethany Turner

Summer is a great time to improve your diet with the addition of fruits and vegetables. For those of us without a green thumb or a gardener in our family, the Southport and Oak Island farmers’ markets have both restarted weekly for the season (see page 20 for info). Fruits and vegetables also abound in local grocery stores and at many roadside stands this time of year.

A good goal is to aim for five servings per day of fruits and vegetables. Examples of one serving include:
1 medium-size piece of fruit
1/2 cup cut fresh fruit
1 cup raw, leafy vegetables, such as spinach, lettuce, etc.
4 oz. (1/2 cup) of 100% fruit juice (limit to one serving per day)
1/4 cup dried fruits or veggies (watch for added sugar and salt)
1/2 cup cooked or canned vegetables

A serving-size quick measurement is to hold the raw fruit or vegetable in the palm of your hand. A palm full of cauliflower or baby carrots would be approximately one serving.

Strive to have your plate look like a rainbow—the more colorful the better! Colorful fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber. Many fruits and vegetables have been implicated in reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease, and they may even help with the effects of aging.

Think outside the box when it comes to fruits and vegetables. Consider the color spectrum of the rainbow:
Red: Strawberries, red peppers, tomatoes, blood oranges, pomegranates, raspberries, cherries, radishes, watermelon.
Orange/Yellow: Apricots, cantaloupes, mangoes, papayas, peaches, pineapples, yellow beets, yellow and orange peppers.
Green: Honeydew melons, avocados, kiwis, broccoli, zucchinis, a million types of green leafy vegetables.
Blue/Purple: Blackberries, blueberries, plums, purple cabbage, raisins.
White: bananas, cauliflowers, kohlrabi, mushrooms, onions, turnips, jicama.

Haven’t ever tried a certain vegetable or fruit? Online and smart phone applications can provide recipes and helpful hints for integrating the fruit and vegetables in season into your diet. For example, www.AllRecipes.com allows you to search by ingredient and provides an assortment of options to prepare.

AllRecipes.com also offers a smart-phone app called “Dinner Spinner,” in a free version or the pro version for $2.99. The Dinner Spinner allows the user to select what type of dish (soup, appetizer, breakfast, etc.—even beverages), the ingredients to use, and a “Ready In” time (slow cooker, 20 minutes or less, etc.). Like a Las Vegas slot machine, the Dinner Spinner pulls up all the recipes which match the three selected categories.

For example, a main dish prepared with tomatoes in 20 minutes or less pulls up recipes such as “Fresh Tomato Parmesan” and “Stir Fry Tomato and Eggs.”

The pro version allows for a few perks, including an automatically updated shopping list, but our editor uses the free version of Dinner Spinner and gets along just fine. A quick Google or Bing search also will yield new ideas for your produce.

Along with this column, we’ve compiled a few of our favorite recipes for readers to try out in their homes. The key is to keep it fresh and interesting. Remember, you are what you eat!

KALE CHIPS
Makes six servings

1 bunch kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon table salt or sea salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Step 1: Preheat an oven to 350°F. Line a non-insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Step 2: With a knife or kitchen shears, carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite-size pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss or massage leaves to properly coat.
Step 3: Place the kale in one layer on the sheet (depending on the size of the bunch, may use more than one sheet or more than one turn at baking). Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, about 10 to 15 minutes.

MUSHROOMS WITH A SOY-SAUCE GLAZE
From AllRecipes.com
Makes two servings

2 tablespoons butter
8 ounces of sliced white mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons soy sauce
ground black pepper to taste

Step 1: Melt the butter in skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms; cook and stir until the mushrooms have softened and released their liquid—about five minutes.

Step 2: Stir in the garlic. Continue to cook and stir for one minute. Pour in the soy sauce and cook until the liquid has evaporated—about four minutes.

Step 3: Serve mushrooms as a side dish or over the meat of your choice.

POTATO, SAUSAGE AND SPINACH BREAKFAST CASSEROLE
From The Bon Appétit Test Kitchen
Makes eight to 10 servings

16 large eggs
1-1/4 cups heavy cream
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, plus more
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
12 ounces fresh breakfast sausage links
2 cups sliced leeks, white and pale-green parts only
2 russet potatoes (1 1/2 pounds), peeled, shredded, lightly squeezed
1 pound frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed dry, roughly chopped
1-1/2 cups grated Gruyère
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Step 1: Position a rack in top third of oven; preheat to 350°F. Whisk eggs, cream, 1-1/2 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl; set aside.

Step 2: Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a 12” cast-iron or nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add sausages and cook, turning often, until browned all over, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add leeks to skillet. Season with salt; cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl.

Step 3: Melt 3 tablespoons butter in same skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes, spreading out in an even layer. Cook without stirring until bottom and edges are crisp and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Slide potato pancake onto a large plate. Invert onto another large plate. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in skillet. Slide potato pancake into skillet, browned side up; cook until bottom is golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Step 4: Scatter spinach, leeks, and sausages over potato pancake, each in an even layer. Season with salt and pepper, then pour in egg mixture. Sprinkle both cheeses over.

Step 5: Bake until casserole is puffed and golden brown, 35-40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

ORANGE BANANA SMOOTHIE
Makes three servings

1-1/2 cups orange juice
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 cup strawberries (tops removed), cut in half
1 to 1-1/2 ripe bananas

Step 1: Combine the orange juice, lime juice, strawberries, and banana in a blender and process until smooth.

Step 2: Refrigerate until cold.

TANGY POPPY SEED FRUIT SALAD
From AllRecipes.com
Makes four servings

1 (20-ounce) can pineapple chunks, drained with juice reserved
1 orange, peeled and segmented
1 kiwi, peeled, halved and sliced
1 cup seedless grapes
1 cup strawberries, quartered
1/4 teaspoon grated lime zest
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Step 1: In a large bowl, toss pineapple, orange, kiwi, grapes and strawberries.

Step 2: In a small cup or bowl, combine lime zest, lime juice, honey, poppy seeds and 1/4 cup reserved pineapple juice. Stir well and toss with fruit.

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