Create Colorful Meals by Going Beyond Fruits and Vegetables

Eating colorful fruits and vegetables ensures you’re getting plenty of nutrients, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. While you can’t go wrong with whole foods, boredom and picky eaters in the family may leave you searching for more creative ideas. Keep your meals interesting and nutritious by going beyond raw fruits and veggies. Plan menus that appeal to the eye as well as the nose and palate.

Savory Sauces Pair pasta, veggies, or meats with colorful sauces. Try puttanesca or arrabbiata for a spicy, tomato-based dish. Puttanesca often includes olives, onions, olive oil, hot peppers and garlic. Arrabbiata gets its kick from crushed red pepper. Foodies who can’t stand the heat may prefer rich white sauces like alfredo or b├ęchamel. For healthier dishes, stick with marinara or pesto. Marinara combines olive oil with onion, garlic and crushed tomatoes. Pesto, which contains pine nuts, gets its bright green color from crushed basil leaves.

Eye-Catching Sides Serve tortilla chips with guacamole, which gets its color from avocados. This green fruit offers such nutrients as potassium, folate, vitamins K and E, and magnesium. Guacamole also contains healthy fats that may help lower your cholesterol, according to the California Avocado Commission. Replace white and Russet potatoes with more colorful options. Examples include nutrient-rich sweet potatoes, Yukon gold potatoes, red potatoes and blue potatoes, which are rich in potassium. While it is a key component in eggs Benedict, hollandaise sauce also works well with steamed veggies. For instance, this egg-based sauce adds a gourmet touch to asparagus.

pasta salad

Cooking Methods The way you prepare food has a significant impact on its final color. For example, frying browns chicken, French fries and onion rings. It also gives them a crispy texture. Steaming raw broccoli and carrots for just a minute or two results in cooked veggies that retain their bright colors. Baking cauliflower florets tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper results in a lightly browned veggie.

Presentation Chefs learn how to plate food in order to make it more elegant and appetizing. Borrow ideas from professionals to create dishes with serious plate appeal. Use sprigs of parsley, mint or other herbs to complement beef and poultry dishes. Add lemon wedges or slices to seafood. Place orange slices or grapes in the center of cheese and cracker trays. Make vertical slices in strawberries, leaving the tops intact. Fan out the slices before placing them on plates with desserts like angel food cake. Use a melon baller to scoop out watermelon and cantaloupe. Serve the fruit inside the hollowed-out melons.


Beverages Colorful beverages provide a tasty, easy way to add interest to any food-centric event. Add a bright “pop” of color with fruit punch, lemonade, orange juice or pink lemonade. Pair already colorful dishes with more subtle drink choices, such as sweet tea, coffee, or wine. Add pizzaz to sparkling water and plain H2O: place blueberries, raspberries, edible flowers or mint leaves in ice cube trays before putting them in the freezer. Serve drinks in clear glasses, pitchers, and punch bowls for greater impact.

Sweet Endings Finish your meals with mouth-watering desserts like red velvet cake, lemon meringue pie, pineapple upside-down cake, or strawberry shortcake. Keep it simple if you’re pressed for time. Whip up a bowl of gelatin or pudding. Get creative for special occasions like birthday parties and anniversaries. From hot pink and sunny yellow to mint green and pearly white, baking supplies come in a wonderland of colors. Decorate your cakes, cookies, cake pops, and cupcakes with tinted icing, sprinkles, edible glitter, candy, nonpareils, candy-coated sunflower seeds, or candy melting wafers.

Jenna Ellington is a busy mother of four and a freelance writer who focuses on saving money and getting great deals at places like

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1 comment:

  1. How long does it take to cook this one? Can I ask you if I will use a holy basil tea that I bought from, does the taste change or not? Or I need a fresh picked basil leaves?


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