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Eat the Rainbow: Orange Cauliflower, Red Carrots, Purple Broccoli, and More

Purple and Yellow cauliflower

“Eat the rainbow” is a mantra developed to encourage people to eat highly colored foods. We’re used to thinking of green beans, red bell peppers or blueberries. But more exotic possibilities are fun to explore too.

Raw or roasted, colorful vegetables are generally high in antioxidants, vitamins A and C, and fiber. They’re also great for nourishing your body.

Orange cauliflower packs about 25 times more vitamin A than white cauliflower. Darker red and purple carrots are chock-full of vitamin A and antioxidants.

The purple of purple broccoli comes from anthocyanins, the same antioxidant that colors eggplant and grapes. If you don’t like green broccoli, try the purple variety. Most people think it is less bitter and has a nuttier flavor than standard broccoli. Who knows? It might be a new favorite for you.

If you don’t have a garden and don’t see these bright vegetables in your regular grocery store, head to your local farmers market. Most are open with social distancing rules. You’ll get produce as fresh as if it just came out of your own backyard.

I love the orange cauliflower I have been growing for several years. This year, however, I planted the purple variety. (There is also a fluorescent green cauliflower.) When I peeked inside the grey-green leaves, I was astounded at the deep, almost neon purple head of cauliflower I saw!

The Husky in me could not resist pairing purple and gold veggies into a healthy snack for fans of the University of Washington. So far, there isn’t a red cauliflower for Washington State Cougars fans. Maybe use crimson carrots instead?

Husky Cauliflower and Dip

This dip can be thinned with milk or water to make a good ranch dressing.

1 head purple cauliflower

1 head orange cauliflower

3–4 purple and yellow carrots (optional)

8 ounces nonfat yogurt or sour cream

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Dash salt-free seasoning blend, any flavor

Mix sour cream or yogurt and Dash seasoning with a fork until well-blended. Let sit refrigerated for several hours. Serve in dipping bowl. Wash cauliflower and cut into bite-sized florets. Place on platter with purple and yellow carrots.

Nutrition Information (per 2 tablespoon serving)

Calories: 16, Carbohydrates: 2 grams, Protein: 1 grams, Sodium: 17 milligrams

Blasted Rainbow Veggies

1 head purple broccoli

1 head orange cauliflower

1-2 cups sliced rainbow carrots

½ pound green beans

½ onion

1 red bell pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

¼ cup fruit or herb vinegar

Parmesan cheese, to taste (1 tablespoon per serving)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut all vegetables about the same size, about an inch square. Put in a bowl and drizzle with about 2 tablespoons olive oil. Toss vegetables. Pour onto flat baking sheet. Cook 8-10 minutes. Stir and then cook another 8–10 minutes. Test vegetables with fork to see when done.

After vegetables are done, remove from oven, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese and 2 tablespoons fruit- or herb-flavored vinegar. Serve immediately. Makes 7 ½-cup servings.

Nutrition Information (per serving)

Calories: 69, Carbohydrates: 7 grams, Protein: 2 grams, Sodium: 14 milligrams


Contributor Katy G. Wilkens is a registered dietitian and department head at Northwest Kidney Centers. The National Kidney Foundation Council on Renal Nutrition has honored her with its highest awards: the Susan Knapp Excellence in Education Award and the Joel D. Kopple Award for significant contributions in renal nutrition.

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