If there’s one thing all of the healthy food bloggers you follow have in common, aside from their love for nutritional eats, it’s that they create some of the most colorful dishes out there. They pretty much eat the rainbow for every meal, and they do so for more than the sheer purpose of acquiring likes and followers on Instagram. “Making sure your meals are ‘colorful’ or resemble the colors of the rainbow is an easy way to make sure you are getting variety in your diet, and has been touted by registered dietitians for years,” explains Gillean Barkyoumb, MS, RD, in Gilbert, Arizona and founder of Millennial Nutrition.
But in recent years this trend has caught fire, even establishing a name of its own — the rainbow bowl. Not only are these prism-inspired meals nice to look at, but they’re also incredibly healthy (and arguably tasty), so enjoying them is really a win-win for foodies everywhere. Here’s everything you need to know before digging in.
What makes up a rainbow bowl
“Most bowls are packed with nutritious fruits and vegetables and possibly some nuts, seeds, and protein like fish or chicken,” explains Barkyoumb. “But instead of one serving of vegetables like an average meal — think a side of broccoli or starter salad — you’re likely getting close to two cups of veggies or more per meal in a rainbow bowl.” That means lots of vitamins, minerals, and fiber to keep you full. Plus, rainbow bowls offer fresh produce prepared in a healthy way, often without a ton of oil, salt, breading, or other cooking methods that counteract the benefits of eating vegetables, she adds. Sadly, eggplant parm and zucchini fries don’t count towards a healthy serving of veggies. Womp, womp.
The more color, the better
The colors obviously come from fruits and vegetables, but there’s more to the story. “Fruits and veggies contain compounds called phytonutrients, which give them their color,” explains Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, in her book Eating in Color. “For example, anthocyanins are found in wild blueberries and beta-carotene are found in carrots and mangos.” She also explains that these phytonutrients are beneficial for our health, as they help us fight diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. “The more color we have on our plates, the more diverse the range of phytonutrients will be in our diet,” Largeman-Roth adds.
How to get your hands on one
You can probably find pre-made rainbow bowl at your local grocery store or salad spot, but if you’re into whipping one up yourself, here’s a delicious recipe to try at home.
This one’s Barkyoumb’s very own — and one of her favorites because it offers a variety of fresh vegetables and is super filling. “Cabbage, carrots, and bell pepper provide vitamin C, B vitamins, and a variety of minerals while avocado contains heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and helps increase the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, K, and E,” she explains. “Black beans provide a hearty carbohydrate source to give you energy and fiber to keep you full and support a healthy digestive system, and the pico de gallo, fajita seasoning, and lime juice pack in a lot of flavor without needing a heavy, creamy salad dressing!” To get your daily dose of protein, she suggests adding grilled chicken or baked tofu to create a balanced meal that contains the right amount of macronutrients.
Mixed leafy greens
Shredded purple cabbage
Sliced green bell pepper
Pico de gallo or salsa
Fresh lime juice
Start with a base of carefully rinsed leafy greens
Top with carrots, cabbage, bell peppers, avocado, black beans and pico de gallo or salsa
Dressing: Sprinkle with fajita seasoning, a drizzle of olive oil and fresh lime juice to taste