How to eat a vegetable rainbow without eating salads everyday?

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

Ingredients:

  • 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

Instructions:

  • 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

Notes:

  • 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)

Trivia

*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!

Why stop at just drinking your 10 glasses of water? Go to the next level

It is recommended that we drink 8 – 10 glasses of water everyday (approximately 1 glass, 200ml, for every waking hour). It’s a seemingly simple step to keep our bodies hydrated that is composed of 70% water.

For most of us, getting to the goal of 8 – 10 glasses feels like an achievement as we forget or feel lazy to getup from our desks to fill up our water bottles in the middle of this important piece of work that we are doing or just don’t want to be that person that goes to the washroom every hour so pre emptively just avoid drinking water.

But there are those who have gotten over these social / mostly personal stigmas and built habits that are useful for our bodies. Are you one of those who will stop after achieving your goals? If no, read below as we will go to the next level of our water drinking routine.

Infuse water with Tea leaves

  • A morning affair with Black tea: the highest caffeine tea will instantly boost your body and wake you up. But drinking this 4-5times a day can bring your body to an unnecessary overstimulated state
  • Keep going through the day with green and white teas: they are not processed and have high levels of antioxidants
  • Energize your afternoons with flower teas (jasmine, rose, chrysanthemums, osmanthus): the smells and sweet flavor with leave you refreshed and in a positively elevated mood
  • Go to bed with lavender tea
  • Digest your heavy food with Pu’er tea: these are fermented teas aged over several years and should be paired with heavy meals to boost digestion.  If you find the taste very strong, then mix the leaves with orange zest or rose petals and be careful not to seep the leaves in hot water for more than 5 sec!

Infuse water with fruits and flowers

There are so many superfoods, herbs and nuts out there that sometimes it can be really overwhelming to think of recipes to include them in your diet. Yes, you can just drop all of them in your smoothie, but that doesn’t let the individual flavors out and can sometimes ruin the taste.

  • Goji berries
  • Chia seeds (add honey and lime to make it a perfect post workout recovery drink)
  •  Ginger (to build immunity)
  •  Apple cider vinegar (for post meal drink to balance stomach pH)
  •  Green tea, jasmine tea (for a mid afternoon refresh)
  •  Star anise, cardamom, cinnamon (fight cold in winters)
  •  Tamarind water ( digestive laxative and a fun tangy taste)

Infuse water with roasted grains

Did you know you can drink your grains? Roast them till they become effervescent then ground them or pack in tea bags to infuse your water. The smell of a roasted grain is satisfying and will be a good experiment to reduce dependence on caffeine as grain teas are caffeine free. If not all the way, blend half of your coffee with the below grains

  • Roasted barley tea: It is loaded with antioxidants, and helps improve digestion. Famous in Japan, roasted barley is infused in hot or cold water depending on the season.
  • Quinoa tea: Loaded with superfood nutrients

Ferment it!

Kombucha is a fermented drink, aged for 10-30 days. Every 2L of kombucha drink is made from 2Tbsp tea leaves, 1/3 cup of sugar, 1 disc of bacteria rich scoby, 0.5L of starter kombucha and 1.5lts of water

During fermentation, the bacteria and yeast feed on sugar and tea to release acetic acid and probiotic bacterias as byproducts, improving the overall bacteria flora in our stomachs and intensities to aid digestion.

How to?

For your everyday routines, start with enhancing one glass of water with any of the above infusions of your choice, going up to 5 glasses a day. You can choose one infusion type a day / a week or mix it up as you like and as much prep time you have!