Our body needs 13 vitamins and 21 essential minerals! But with each of the 20,000+ species of known vegetables providing a unique set of these vitamins and minerals, how do we make sure we are eating the right nutrients, in the right quantities?
In the book Sapiens, the author Yuval Noah Harari argues that hunters-gatherers, before the arrival of agriculture, satisfied themselves with “a marvelously varied diet”, made possible by the fact that they had few needs and plenty of time to roam around the jungle gathering fruits, vegetable and herbs. Today despite modern agriculture and advanced trade that brings fresh vegetables and fruits from across the world throughout the season at our doorstep, we suffer from vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
It’s akin to the irony of movies. When there are too many movies to watch, we gravitate towards the blockbusters that follow a specific plot trend vs a wholesome portfolio to nourish our senses and inspire creativity.
Luckily, nature has made things simple with a color coding system. The 20,000+ vegetable species can be broadly divided into 5 color codes (Red, Orange/Yellow, White/Brown, Green, Red), each unique for its nutrient profile, together providing Yuval’s “marvelously varied diet”
Then all we need is a simple 3 step rule: (1) Shop veggies of 5 different colors, (2) rotate the mix with seasonal, exotic and experimental varieties (3) Cook and eat
I started off with salads to get around the third step – chop all the veggies, dress them up and eat. But eating raw rainbow salads everyday can get boring. So I gave myself the challenge to come up with fun, easy and delicious ways to eat rainbow meals. Below are three of the successful kitchen experiments that have been #SuccessfullyTasteTested
The Marvelous Yogic Veggie Bowl
Prep time: 10min | Cooking time: 20min | Serves two big bowls
- 1 cup beetroot, diced
- 1/2 cup carrot, diced
- 1/2 cup pumpkin, diced
- 1/2 cup potato, diced
- 1/2 cup cauliflower, diced
- 1 cup broccoli, diced
- 1 Tbsp ghee
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 cup water
- Peel, dice, wash, strain all the veggies
- In a rice cooker or a pan, add all the 4 cups of veggies along with 1 Tbsp ghee, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper and 1/4 cup water
- Cover the lid and cook without moving the vegetables, on medium heat for 10 – 15 mins. Make sure the vegetables are fully cooked but have a tinge of firmness / crunch
- Remove in bowls and serve hot! Add lemon, salt and pepper as required
- Tastes best when served hot, immediately after cooking
- Best eaten as a salad replacement or with rice and lentil Kichari
- Eat with a friend or by yourself without TV/phone, to truly enjoy the subtle flavors and nourishments
- Its real fun to chop the veggies!
- Use rice cooker to keep things simple and not worry about adding additional water in between
- Do not touch / move the vegetables while cooking as the colors of some vegetable swill override everything else (e.g. beetroots)
Upcoming recipes in the series:
Coconut Rice with loads of Veggies and a hint of Indo-chinese flavor (coming up soon)
Clear soup with lots of vegetables, Vietnamese pho style (coming up soon)
*13 vitamins: vitamins A, C, D, E, K and the B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and folate).
*21 essential minerals: Calcium, Phosphorous, Potassium, Sodium, Magnesium, Iron, Manganese, Copper, zinc, cobalt, molybdenum, iodine, selenium, sulfur, chloride, boron, silicon, vanadium, nickel, arsenic, chromium
*Our bodies need energy to survive and carry various bodily functions. We get this energy from the food we eat, specifically carbohydrates, proteins and fats. The enzymes in our body break down the three macronutrients to release energy via chemical reactions. Vitamins and minerals help keep the enzymes active, transport them to the right locations and keep the environmental conditions right (e.g. pH balance, blood sugar levels etc) for the appropriate chemical reactions to take place. Vitamins and minerals are also stores in our body parts (e.g., Calcium in the bones) that provides critical structure to them. Pretty damn important!