We know we should be eating more veggies – their goodness cannot be understated. A plethora of vitamins, minerals, disease-fighting antioxidant and gut-loving fibre, they’re foods that build great health from the inside out. They’re also protective for the body, helping to support a fighting-fit immune system that’ll ward off the bugs and enhance optimal gut health. Eating veggies helps make us feel good – they’re energizing and brimming with nutrients.
Fruit and veggies get their colours from a nifty group of chemical compounds called phytochemicals. Different colours indicate different nutrients, which have their own unique set of health properties. For example, orange and yellow veggies and fruits, such as oranges and carrots, are brimming with vitamin C and A, while purple and blue, such as berries and eggplant, are rich in anthocyanin, a powerful disease-fighting antioxidant.
When building your rainbow salad bowl, aim to pick at least one veggie to tick off each colour in the rainbow (I had to settle for blue edible borage flowers). Arrange them as you please – you could do a rainbow gradient like I attempted, or just dice, chop and chuck into a bowl – the colours together will look fabulous!
Next, whip up a tasty salad dressing to go along with it. I prepared an easy zingy fresh basil vinaigrette, which is super yummy and pairs perfectly. Recipe is below. Pairing healthy fats (e.g. olive oil in the dressing) with this dish will help you extract all the important fat-soluble vitamins (vitamin D, E, K & A) contained within your veggies, which need dietary fats present to be absorbed.
If you’re looking at turning this into more of a main meal, serve with your choice of protein (for plant-based go chickpeas, lentils, beans, or otherwise boiled eggs, smoked salmon or grilled chicken would be yummy). You can also bump up the starchy carb content – rice or roasted kumara/potato/pumpkin would be great additions.
Rainbow Bowls with Basil Vinaigrette
- A few handful of leafy greens
- A selection of fresh veggies – aim to tick off every colour of the rainbow!
- Examples: capsicum (green/orange/yellow/purple/red…), carrot, cabbage (purple/green…), tomatoes and avocado…
- Extras: 1 Tbsp. sauerkraut, 1 Tbsp. hummus, sprinkle of sesame seeds, fresh herbs…
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 8 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 1 small clove garlic
- A few turns of the salt & pepper shaker
To make your dressing, blitz up all ingredients in a food processor/stick blender.
To make salad bowl, pick your veggies and arrange them in a bowl/plate. Get creative with whatever is in season (or lonely in your fridge waiting to be eaten!) Your goal is variety and colour.
Nutrition facts per serving of dressing only: Calories 122; protein 0g; fat 14g; carbs 1g.