Monday, December 29, 2008

Eat Your Colors

"Eat your colors!" we're told by nutrition scientists. And that means lots of fruits and vegetables, in a wide range of color (reds, purples, blues, golden yellows, oranges) that when added to the diet provide not only essential nutrients, but also powerful antioxidants which help prevent and repair oxidative stress

Fruits and vegetables come in terrific colors and flavors, but their real beauty lies in what's inside. Colorful produce isn't just a feast for the eyes, it's also really medicine. For more variety, try new fruits and vegetables regularly.

How much is enough? NCI recommends that adults eat between 7 and 11 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Some people may be daunted by the number of recommended servings but a serving is smaller than most people think. A serving can be ¼ cup (dried fruit), ½ cup (fresh fruit or vegetable) or 1 cup (leafy salad greens).

We frequently eat more than one serving at a time. For example, a large salad with 2 cups of leafy veggies, some onion, bell pepper and tomato can offer up to 5 or 6 servings. A breakfast including a small glass of juice and raisins in your oatmeal could mean you've started your day with at least 2 servings.

Radicchio, Spinach & Pear Salad
Makes 8 servings

1/2 head Royal Rose™ radicchio, cored and chopped
1 10-oz. bag fresh spinach leaves, chopped
3 ripe Bartlett pears, cored and sliced
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
6 ounces crumbled Gorgonzola (or other creamy blue cheese)
1/2 cup caramelized pecans* (or chopped pecans)

Combine chopped radicchio, spinach leaves, sliced Bartlett pear and red onion in a bowl. In small saucepan, heat vinegar and oil gently over medium heat until hot; immediately pour dressing over salad and toss until evenly dressed. Season with salt and pepper, top with crumbled Gorgonzola and caramelized pecans and serve at once.

Caramelized Pecans:
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 cup pecan halves, lightly toasted*

Lightly grease a rimmed cookie sheet. Set aside. In a small saucepan bring sugar and water to a boil. Increase heat to medium-high and cook syrup without stirring until mixture turns golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in pecans, and then spread pecans in a single layer on prepared sheet. Let stand until cool, then break into small pieces. Makes 1 cup. Store covered at room temperature.

*To toast nuts, place on a shallow baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes, until fragrant.

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