National Nutrition Month 2011: Yellow and White

altI was at the grocery store the other day and noticed one of these odd lemon-looking creations. I thought it was a lab experiment gone wrong.

However, this is not a genetically modified lemon, it is a real fragrant citrus fruit commonly consumed in Asia. It is called “Buddha’s hand”, or fingered citron. Inside the thick peel, you will find a tiny amount of seedless, dry flesh reminiscent of a lemon.
This made me realize that I am in a produce rut. I tend to buy the same apples, bananas, oranges, mangos, berries, carrots, spinach and avocados over and over again. It’s about time I started to experiment with more colors on my plate.
In honor of National Nutrition Month, with the theme this year to “Eat Right with Color,” I would like to explore with you some produce that are yellow and white. Yes, even the not so bright cauliflower is full of nutrition…
Banana – I eat a banana every morning. Whether it be sliced in my cereal or oatmeal, topped on my toast with almond butter and cinnamon, or whipped up in a power smoothie, I can’t remember the last morning this convenient, inexpensive fruit didn’t satisfy my morning hunger! Known for their potassium, runners especially gravitate toward this healthy, convenient snack to replenish glycogen stores.
Plantain – Plantains tend to be firmer and lower in sugar content than bananas. Bananas are most often eaten raw, while plantains need to be cooked before consuming. They are eaten either when green or unripe (as a starchy vegetable) or overripe (a sweet treat). Plantains are a staple food in the tropical regions of the world, treated in much the same way as potatoes. Plantains are an excellent source of Vitamin A and C as well as a good source of potassium.
Cauliflower – Did you know not all cauliflower is white? Try some purple or orange variety too! This cruciferous vegetable is high in vitamin C as well as the B vitamin, folate. Use cauliflower in place of mashed white potatoes to lower the carbohydrates and calories in the side dish. Just remember to pass on the added butter, cream and cheese too 🙂 Potatoes are another white vegetable that contain less than 200 calories each and provides potassium, iron and vitamin C.
Lemon – Another selection high in vitamin C. Add lemon to green tea to enhance the effectiveness of the antioxidants. Also, adding lemon (or foods high in vitamin C) to foods increases the absorbtion of iron. Try a little lemon on beans or squeezed over some steamed kale. To get the most juice from a lemon, bring the fruit to room temperature and roll on a hard surface while pressing down, or microwave for 30 seconds to increase juice content. Lemon juice also helps prevent the browning of a cut apple or avocado. By adding lemon to guacamole, it will stay a beautiful green til the last dip!
Starfruit – Also known as carambola, has ridges running down its sides (usually 5, but varies from 3-6) which when cut in a cross-section, resembles a star. The entire fruit is edible including the semi-waxy skin and is similar in texture to a grape. Starfruit are rich in antioxidants and again, more vitamin C (starting to see a pattern?). Similar to grapefruit, some medications are enhanced when starfruit is eaten in combination. Therefore, always check labels of your prescriptions or ask your healthcare provider. Otherwise, starfruit make a great, healthy conversation starter.
Pineapple – Another vitamin C powerhouse. Not only does the skin make a cute cup for umbrella drinks on the beach, but the meaty center is great to add to salads, desserts, dressings, or smoothies. Pineapple contains a proteolytic enzyme, bromelain, which breaks down protein. Pineapple juice can thus be used as a marinade and tenderizer for meat. Try grilling pineapple on a skewer and topping with a raspberry sauce for dessert like we do here at the resort!
For some more ideas on white vegetables, click HERE to see the nutritional powerhouses that include parsnips, onions, garlic, white beans, white button mushrooms, turnips, and celeriac.
Combine these with other fruits, veggies and whole grains to create a rainbow on your plate. The colors indicate the different vitamins and minerals present in the produce. How many colors can you fit on your plate?
Krista Haynes, R.D.