The Rainbow Food Phenomenon
Rainbow Cobb Salad
Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Violet, and Indigo. These colors are what Mother Nature provided to us. The hues are natural and beautiful. These vibrant colors are present in most fruits and vegetables adding a spark to many plates.
The influx of multicolored “rainbow food” has become a popular food trend- flashing back to the disco era. These brightly colored foods appeal to many in the Millennial Generation as a new food fad. Unfortunately, most of these recipes require the heavy use of food coloring, consisting of unknown dyes and ingredients to tint the food. I have seen rainbow cake, rainbow bagels, rainbow pizza, and "unicorn drinks" making the stomach of every chef, nutritionist and dietician I know, wrench with fear. I’m not sure if was the unnatural addition of copious amounts of food coloring, or the unnatural amount of cheese needed to generate enough grease to emulsify the colors to make rainbow pizza, or the truckload of sugar in the drinks that scream diabetes. Either way I know there must be a better way.
In the early 2000’s the USDA started a campaign encouraging people, especially children and adolescents to “Eat the Rainbow”. The focus was to get a wide range of colors from fruit and vegetables on the plate. Each color provides a different set of phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals in the food. This is a far cry from the candy companies “eat a rainbow” marketing slogan, as hilarious as the commercials may be.
The color of fruit and vegetable is due to different pigments offering a different range of health benefits.
Red=Lycopene= healthy circulation, healthy nerve function, anti-cancer, Vitamin C
Orange= Carotenoids= Vitamin A, eyesight, reduce the risk of heart disease, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant