Show your patriotic spirit this 4th of July and make healthy food choices with a variety of red, white & blue fruits and vegetables. There are many colorful and delicious foods that can dress up your picnic or BBQ menus.
Red foods are packed with lots of vitamins and minerals like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Potassium. Red foods also contain compounds called Phytochemicals, which have been shown to have positive health benefits. Phytochemicals you might have heard about include flavonoids, lycopene, reservatol and capsaicin.
Our favorite red foods include:
- Strawberries – Strawberries are loaded with vitamin C, potassium, and folate. Strawberries are best fresh. For a special 4th of July breakfast treat – make a red, white & blue yogurt parfait with vanilla yogurt, sliced strawberries and blueberries. (Food Guide: Strawberries)
- Tomatoes -Tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, potassium and Vitamin C. They taste great fresh off the vine and cooked in sauces, stews and soups. Try chopped tomatoes or fresh salsa with scrambled eggs. A plate of sliced tomatoes are a fantastic summer BBQ side dish –sprinkle with sea salt and ground pepper then drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. (Food Guide: Tomatoes)
- Red Peppers – A bright red pepper contains potassium, Vitamin A and Vitamin C. Red Peppers can be served raw as a snack or in salads, cooked in pasta and stir-fry dishes, roasted in soups and stews, or skewered and grilled with other summer vegetables.
- Watermelon – You know its summer time when you see watermelons. Watermelons are packed with Vitamin A, Vitamin C and lycopene. A big slice of fresh watermelon is sure to put a smile on your little one’s face at the family picnic! (Food Guide: Watermelon)
- Red Beets – Red beets contain iron, niacin and potassium. Start introducing red beets to kids in salads or roasted with olive oil and ground pepper. Pickled red beets are also a good introduction and are terrific in a tossed green salad.
- Red Grapes – Red Grapes contain flavonoids, reservatol and quercitin to help keep your heart healthy and strong. Grapes are a great snack. Freeze them for a hot summertime treat.
- Cherries – Cherries are considered a nutritional super food because they are loaded with antioxidants and vitamins and, they taste great! Remove the pits to make it easier for little ones to enjoy this delicious treat.
White fruits and vegetables contain anti-oxidants that can help prevent heart disease and stroke, vitamin C for skin, hair and joints, vitamin K and folate, and fiber to keep your digestive system healthy. White foods can also help remove toxins from the body so your cells work properly and your body stays healthy.
Healthy white food options include:
- Cauliflower: Cauliflower supplies your body with vitamins C, K, folate and dietary fiber. Research also shows that cauliflower can help decrease inflammation in the body. Serve raw cauliflower as a crunchy, healthy appetizer or snack. You can also grill, roast, steam, or sauté cauliflower. (Food Guide – Cauliflower)
- White corn: Corn provides the body with beneficial anti-oxidants to help prevent disease and plenty of fiber for healthy digestion. Steam, boil or grill corn on the cob, or cut the kernels from the cob and add to side dishes, soups, stews, salads and casseroles.
- Onions & Garlic: Both garlic and onions contain quercetin, which helps to keep your heart healthy and strong. Add chopped onion and minced garlic to side dishes for extra flavor and a healthy heart.
- Parsnips: Parsnips are a good source of folate and B vitamins, which help prevent birth defects and lower your risk of heart disease. Parsnips can be used instead of carrots in recipes or try and 50/50 mix of each food. Boil a 50/50 mixture of parsnips and white potatoes to make delicious mashed potatoes. .
- Mushrooms: This yummy little fungi is high in potassium, selenium, vitamin D, and rich in flavor. There is a wide variety of mushrooms available including button, cremini, Oyster and Portabella. Serve sliced mushroom in a green salad. Try grilling portobello mushrooms and brush with Italian dressing just before serving. (Food Guide: Mushrooms)
- Potatoes: Potassium packed potatoes helps lower blood pressure and keeps your heart strong. They also contain Vitamin C and fiber to keep your skin and digestive tract healthy. Partially boil potatoes and finish them on the grill for a great addition to your summer BBQ. (Food Guide: Potatoes)
- White Peaches: White peaches are a great source of vitamin C and fiber and help keep your skin and digestive tract healthy. Peaches also contain potassium, fluoride, and iron for strong bones and healthy blood cells. Delicious and sweet, peaches make an excellent addition to summertime salads, and baked goods. Peaches are also wonderful as a snack or side dish.
- Pears: Loaded with vitamins, minerals, and cancer preventing anti-oxidants, pears are a healthy and delicious food choice. Pears provide the body with vitamins A, C, B1, B2, and E, folate, potassium, iron, and fiber. Pears also have a low glycemic index, which means they can help control blood sugar levels. Slice pears and serve alone, or add to salads and smoothies. (Food Guide: Pears)
Blue foods are a great source of cancer preventing anti-oxidants and phytonutrients. The main phytonutrient, anthocyanidin, helps to decrease inflammation in the body’s cells and may protect against heart disease. Blue foods also contain minerals including copper and iron, vitamins C, K, B-6, B-12, and fiber. Purple and black fruits and vegetables are also members of the blue food group.
Healthy blue food menu options include:
- Blueberries: Considered one of nature’s best “super foods”, blueberries give your body and brain a healthy dose of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants. Be sure to include these delicious berries in your breakfast, lunch and dinner menus. Blueberries freeze well and are great added to smoothies, baked goods and jams. (Food Guide: Blueberries)
- Purple Potatoes: Blue potatoes provide carotenoids and flavonoids anti-oxidants, which can prevent cancer. Add color to your potato and vegetable dishes by using blue potatoes instead of white ones in recipes. (Food Guide: Potatoes)
- Blackberries: A tasty way to add fiber and vitamin C to your diet, blackberries are delicious in salads, sauces and backed goods. Pick blackberries in season and freeze for an off-season treat.
- Eggplant: Purple skinned eggplant adds fiber and flavor to meals. Cut eggplant in circles, brush olive oil, sprinkle with salt, then grill the circles. Grilled eggplant makes a nice side dish that is loaded with fiber and anti-oxidants.
- Purple Cabbage: Purple cabbage supplies the body with fiber, potassium and Vitamin C. Toss shredded cabbage into green salads or make crunchy coleslaw for your summer picnic table.
- Plums & Prunes: Plums and prunes (dried plums) are loaded with anti-oxidants and vitamins that help keep eyes, skin and organs healthy. Plums and prunes make a nutritious, low calorie snack on their own, or combine them with yogurt and cereal for a nutritious meal.
Red, White & Blue Menu Ideas:
4th of July Breakfast Parfait: Layer sliced strawberries, blueberries and vanilla yogurt in a clear cup and serve with a spoon.
Patriotic Veggies Kabobs: Make colorful vegetable skewers with grape tomatoes, cubed purple potatoes (par-boiled), onions, eggplant and red peppers. Brush with Italian dressing or teriyaki marinade and grill to perfection.
Independence Day Fruit Salad: Mix blueberries, watermelon, pears. Squeeze with limejuice and sprinkle fresh, chopped mint. Chill and serve.
White & Blue Chips and Red Salsa: Serve blue and white corn chips with fresh tomato salsa for a festive, healthy appetizer.