Eating well in the when the weather is cold is hard. Once the temperature drops and the wind picks up, comfort food cravings make it all too easy to turn down a light and healthy salad. And we love soup. Really, we do. Sometimes we just need to switch up our grub, but it’s tough to find a recipe that’s seasonal, healthy, comforting, and still easy to make.
Enter the rainbow bowl. What’s great about these beauties is that there isn’t a strict recipe to follow, but rather a simple formula that you can adapt based on what you have left over in the fridge. When you focus on including a variety of colors, you’re sure to have a wealth of nutrients that will keep your eyes sharp and healthy.
Here are a few foundational items to consider when building your rainbow bowl.
Dark Leafy Greens
First up are dark leafy greens, which contain the nutrients lutein and zeaxanthins. Both of these antioxidants are found in high concentrations in your macula, the center of your retina that’s responsible for what you see directly in front of you. But the body doesn’t naturally make all of the nutrients it needs, so it’s important our diet contains them. Eating lots of leafy greens like kale and spinach will help protect your vision and reduce your risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
We all know carrots are great for your eyes, but they’re not the only eye-healthy veggie. Like carrots, sweet potatoes are also an excellent source of vitamin A, a nutrient that helps improve night vision, prevent dry eyes and cataracts, and maintain your current vision. In fact, a one cup serving of sweet potato has more than the full daily requirement of vitamin A. Beets are another great source of lutein that help support eye and overall nerve tissue health.
Adding some whole grains to your rainbow bowl will give your dish the substance and warmth we all crave in the winter months. More than that, substituting a refined grain (like pasta or bread) with a whole grain (like quinoa or brown rice), may reduce the likelihood of blood sugar spikes that can damage your retina over time. Whole grains also contact vitamin E, zinc, and niacin—all which can reduce your risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
It’s trendy, but it’s true. Everything is better with an egg on it. Adding a fried or poached egg with a free-running yolk instantly turns this dish from a boring fridge-cleanout into a satisfying meal. Eggs are also incredibly nutritious, with lots of vitamin A, lutein and zeaxanthin. (Are you noticing a trend yet?)
If you’re not sure where to start with your rainbow bowl, here’s a simple recipe we love.
Simple Winter Rainbow Bowl
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
- 4 cups kale leaves, chopped
- 1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
- 1 turnip, peeled and chopped
- ½ red onion, sliced in wedges
- 4 Tbsp olive oil
- Juice of one lemon
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 egg
- Salt + pepper
- ½ c. cooked quinoa
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Sauté kale over medium heat for about five minutes until slightly wilted.
- On a baking sheet, assemble kale and veggies. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Place in oven and roast for about 30 minutes. Flip veggies halfway through.
- While veggies roast, make dressing by whisking together olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic with a dash of salt and pepper.
- About five minutes before your veggies are ready, fry an egg on the stove – over medium or sunny side up. Veggies are ready when tender and can be easily pierced with a fork.
- Assemble rainbow bowl first with quinoa, then top with veggies and drizzle with dressing.
Eating an eye healthy diet is a great way to protect your vision, but of course it doesn’t replace a visit to your doctor once a year for a comprehensive exam. Find a VSP network provider near you and make an appointment today!