As spring nears and the weather warms, we shift from hibernating to socializing. Cookouts, parties, and picnics are beginning to pop up everywhere and it can be a challenge trying to balance healthy eating with feeding an outdoor crowd. A simple solution is shopping with a colorful food plan in mind.
Colorful foods like fruit and vegetables are a win because they’re packed with nutrients and they offer unique flavors. Here are some tips we’ve put together with the help of Aramark Chef Charles Schermer and our partners in health at the American Heart Association to help you feed both your goals and your friends.
Aramark Chef’s top tips on adding colorful fruits and vegetables
With decades of experience working as a chef, what Charles loves most about his job is that it’s “fun and adventurous, and there is always something more to learn and experience.” The color in Chef Charles’s ingredients are especially important because “color is a great way to call out healthy food.” The colors of tomatoes, blueberries, and sweet potatoes are in stark contrast to white rice, white bread, and white potatoes. If you’re seeing foods that are all the same color on your dish, it’s important to mix it up and eat the rainbow. Plus, adding color to your dishes can be an eye-catching way to feed a crowd.
Feed a crowd with color
Chef Charles recommends a nice chopped salad. You can serve spring greens with peppers, cucumbers, a light vinaigrette, and a small amount of feta cheese. Another option is to grill vegetables to bring out their natural flavors. Vegetable trays served with hummus are another easy, bright addition to any event. With three kids at home, Chef Charles keeps his kitchen stocked with colorful staples including broccoli, apples, pears, avocados, and bananas.
Add color on a budget
There are plenty of options for fruits and vegetables that cost less than $1 per serving, making them an affordable option and Chef Charles agrees. “Adding fruits and vegetables doesn’t necessarily increase the costs. Things like meats, cheeses, and some of these richer foods are comparable, if not more expensive. Foods that are processed tend to be more expensive and not nearly as healthy. When you’re cooking from scratch, there’s an inherent cost-savings and health benefit.”
Add color to add flavor
Roasting fruits and vegetables caramelizes the food, bringing out natural sugars without adding excess calories. This is a surefire way to intensify the flavor of your dish. Adding fresh-squeezed citrus like limes and lemons highlight natural flavors, again without adding extra fat or salt to the meal. Fresh herbs and habaneros are flavorful and interesting ways to add color and some kick.
Consistently taking small steps like adding more colorful fruits and vegetables to your meals can make a meaningful impact on your health. For more colorful ideas to power your day, try these recipes:
Learn more about the health benefits of colorful fruits and vegetables from the American Heart Association.
Since everyone’s health history and nutritional needs are so different, please make sure that you talk with your doctor and a registered dietitian to get advice about the diet and exercise plan that‘s right for you.
Note: Since everyone’s health history and nutritional needs are so different, please make sure that you talk with your doctor and a registered dietitian to get advice about the diet and exercise plan that‘s right for you.