3 Ways to Add More Color to Your Plate

A colorful plate isn’t just pleasing to the eye—vivid veggies and fruits also provide a bevy of important nutrients. Here’s how to maximize every meal.

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Zucchini Fritter Gyros
Photo by Kate Kosaya

A colorful plate isn’t just pretty to look at—it also serves up a beautiful dose of healthful nutrients! The compounds that give plants their pretty colors (orange, red, green, etc.) aren’t necessarily essential nutrients, but they do help protect us from many diseases, especially cancer. So to get the maximum benefit out of phytonutrients, make sure your plate is filled with a rainbow of colors. Here are some tips to help you bring more color to your plate:

1. Don’t overcook

When you overcook a vegetable, it loses its color. As the pigmentation is cooked out, so are the nutrients. Steaming is a great way to preserve the color and nutrition in vegetables. After a few minutes of steaming, broccoli becomes an even brighter green!

2. Add spices and herbs

Flavorful seasonings are a great way to make your nutritious dish more colorful and delicious. Garnish your meals with fresh herbs like basil, cilantro, parsley, or dill. Add spices like red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, and turmeric. Microgreens are another fantastic option.

3. Change one ingredient

If you usually make chili with red bell pepper, try it with a yellow one next time. If your salad is usually made with spinach or arugula, mix it up with some shredded red cabbage. Do you always make potato salad with white potatoes? Show sweet potatoes or blue/purple potatoes some love too. Are you in the habit of only buying white quinoa or brown rice? Try the red variety of each! By changing just one ingredient in the recipes you’re familiar with, you can easily add more color to your plate.