Not that long ago, families would sit down to a meal where foods were…well, pretty beige. Turkey, dressing, and mashed potatoes with gravy. Corn or some overcooked green beans on the side provided the only color on the plate other than shades of tan.
Growing up, Tuna Fish Wiggle was a big one on Friday nights at our house – canned tuna in a white sauce over mashed potatoes, with crushed corn flakes on top – again, pretty monochromatic. Sometimes my mother added canned green peas – a rather lackluster splash of color and flavor, to be sure.
Home economists began suggesting we housewives could make our family’s dinner plates more attractive by adding foods with various colors and textures. With more color on the plate, it meant the meal was more nutritious – but that was just an accidental side-effect. The culture of superfoods and modern nutrition was not even on the radar forty years ago.
Today, nutritionists and dieticians and all those foodies out there are pushing colorful foods to the max and it’s because intensely colored foods may be nutraceuticals (foods containing health-giving additives and having medicinal benefits).
During fall, as nature is changing colors in our landscape, so too, can we bring new colors to our plates. I attended a session at a national conference called Cooking in Color, where the speaker broke veggies and fruits down to five groups and explained what each group, by color, brought to the plate.
Carrots, winter squash, mango, cantaloupe, apricots:
Promotes a healthy heart, vision, immune system and lowers the risk of some cancers
Spinach, kale, collards, chard, arugula, turnip greens, peas, peppers, honeydew:
Promotes vision health, strong bones and teeth, and lowers the risk of some cancers
Tomatoes (fresh, canned, salsa, paste, sauce, juice, etc.), pink grapefruit, watermelon:
Promotes a healthy heart, memory function, urinary tract health, and lowers the risk of some cancers
Grape juice, red and purple grapes, cranberries & juice, purple cabbage, red peppers, apples, pears, berries & cherries:
Promotes healthy aging and memory
Onions, celery, garlic, leeks, shallots, chives, mushrooms, cauliflower:
Promotes a heart health, healthy cholesterol levels, and lowers the risk of some cancers
Enjoy the slide show below then go to our recipe for Mary's Fabulous Fall Frittata.
Mary Rapoport, a Certified Family and Consumer Science professional, is employed as Consumer Affairs Director for the Virginia Egg Council. She appears on many local TV stations across Virginia, sharing healthy recipe ideas and cooking tips, works with extension, dieticians, newspaper food editors, and speaks at state and national conferences. In 2016 she was awarded Leader in Family and Consumer Sciences by AAFCS.
The side-effect of a plate filled with intense color is the variation in nutrients - not only making the plate look more appetizing, but satisfying the 2015 US Dietary Guidelines that recommend up to 10 servings of fruits and veggies a day. At each meal, along with colors on the plate, include protein: fish, beef, chicken and pork, and the best protein value in the market today, eggs.
For those chilly fall evenings – after a hard day of work or school - here’s a wonderfully flavorful and nutrition-packed skillet meal that satisfies. Our featured fall recipe for Ageless Woman is the Fabulous Fall Frittata - so colorful you know it's nutritious and delicious, and so attractive my old home economics teacher would approve. This main dish frittata can be served right out of the skillet it's cooked in. The term "frittata" is derived from the Italian word for "fried" but this is a low-fat, vegetable-laden dish, with its ingredients only lightly skillet-fried in healthy olive oil.
Click below to see the recipe card, but basically it starts off on the stovetop, where the veggie filling is lightly stir-fried in a very large skillet. Then beaten eggs are poured on top, mixed in, and as soon as the eggs set, you top it with cheese and pop it into the oven where it bakes. Think quiche without a crust. Or imagine a really full omelet that you don't fold over. Sort of a Spanish omelet. That's a frittata. Leftovers are easily re-heated or are wonderful cold - or even in a crusty bread sandwich. (Yes, a frittata sandwich!)
Ideally, you should use a cast iron skillet when transferring a dish from stovetop to oven, but if you only have a conventional skillet with a plastic handle, wrap the plastic handle with aluminum foil, and it will be fine in the oven for 25 minutes. The aluminum foil will prevent it from melting.
Enjoy the scrumptuous slideshow below showing each stage in the frittata's creation. The only color group not covered is the yellow/orange group, so throw a few yellow squash into the frittata, add a carrot salad on the side or serve mango chunks for dessert to get your yellow. Bump up the colors in your diet, channel the vibrant colors of the season, and change your health.