Can you believe the 4th of July is next week? With summer in full swing, it can be easy to let your diet fall by the wayside and with fewer events to prep for we can also lose sight of our goals. Typically, summers are just one cookout, party, wedding after another. With the nostalgia of the 4th of July upon us, and a call to be more creative as we stay socially distant, let’s look at some ways to eat the patriotic rainbow! Get that grocery list handy and add some festive foods for a pandemic party of one or a socially distant backyard soiree with those in your social circle of 25 or fewer.

When we think of red foods, we immediately think of cherries, beets, raspberries. Cherries are a seasonal favorite you can get right now, and they are rich in antioxidants, (believed to reduce pain and inflammation) and have been thought to fight many diseases, including diabetes, cancer, arthritis and gout. Cherries are also a good source of fiber, potassium and vitamin A.  Cherries are a great snack and with the little seeds in the middle to slow you down, they will take longer to enjoy than, say, other less healthy snacks like chips.  Beets are your friend too! Beets are very nutritious and a 1⁄2 cup of cooked beets has just 29 calories with 2 grams of fiber and provides 19%  of the daily value for folate, a B vitamin needed for the growth of healthy new cells. Not a fan of beets? Try using them in different ways- roast them, boil them and even add to salads. With the extra time on our hands this summer, you may want to try your hand at pickling them. Pickled beets store well, and they taste great. And, who doesn’t love raspberries? As the raspberries are ripening around the NEK, enjoy them at about 64 calories for a whole cup. These sweet berries are very figure-friendly, not to mention that one cup has 8 grams of filling fiber.  Raspberries are great with cereal, salads, yogurt, or even just on their own.

White foods can get a bad rap, but they aren’t all bad – some are even great for you! Mushrooms: these little fun guys (also known as fungi) can contain 100% of the recommended amount of vitamin D in a three-ounce serving. Vitamin D is a hard vitamin to obtain enough of without a supplement, so this is a tasty way to do it! .  Another powerhouse white food is cauliflower.  Cauliflower is stealing the show as a versatile low-carbohydrate dream ingredient. Use it in pasta dishes like macaroni and cheese and use half noodles/half cauliflower. You can use it to make pizza crust, tortillas and more!  Using cauliflower as a substitute can let you enjoy some of your favorite foods without all the fat and calories. Cauliflower is known for being packed with vitamin C; just one cup will give you 77% of your daily intake. White beans are another nice source of protein and fiber, plus antioxidants along with iron, copper, potassium and phosphorous. Beans are more popular than ever right now because they’re a good value and you can do a lot with them. You can use them in hummus, add to chili or even just add to the top of a salad. Lastly, don’t hold the onions! Onions are quite a versatile food and even though they are white they pack some nutrients and a ton of flavor. Onions are naturally fat-free and carry some protein, calcium and iron in each serving. Onions are great to add to salads and sandwiches raw, or sauté them to add to a stir-fry or add on to kabobs for some extra crunch and flavor.

Blue foods, and we mean naturally blue, not the crazy blue drinks you see for 99 cents in the store, are brightly notorious for nutrients! Scientists believe that anthocyanin, a compound that gives blue foods their color, are responsible for their benefits. These compounds clean up free radicals and soothe inflammation. Currently, purple and blue foods make up only 3% of the average American’s fruit and vegetable intake, so aim to eat more. A great way to do that is with blueberries. Blueberries are in season right now and almost always on sale in the grocery store.  Add blueberries to anything, from oatmeal to frozen yogurt, or as any add-on to some of your favorite meals.

There you have it, a festive array of red, white and blue foods just in time for the 4th of July. Talk to your kids and see what other foods they can think of that are red, white, blue and healthy too! When it comes to eating a healthful diet, try to add in as many colors as possible. Typically, the darker in color the richer in nutritional value the food is.  Stick to healthy foods that are all natural and you can’t go wrong. You still have time to plan that 4th of July menu. This year why not use the patriotic theme with these new ideas of eating red, white and blue! Let’s eat the patriotic rainbow!


Mary Hoadley

Director of The Wellness Center