Color Me Healthy

Following an “eat the rainbow” plan can help you achieve optimal health through better food choices.

Those who follow me on Instagram and Facebook know I am a huge proponent of preparing healthy meals for myself, my family and guests. I believe healthy eating can help people achieve optimal health. Some of the “superfoods” I love serving include wild-caught salmon, which provides Omega 3 and is an anti-inflammatory; blueberries and strawberries, which contain antioxidants; broccoli, with high levels of vitamin C, calcium and fiber; walnuts, which also contain antioxidants and are a supplier of Omega 3s; olive oil, which is high in healthy monounsaturated fats and helps control blood sugar; and dark chocolate, which can have a positive effect on cholesterol and blood sugar.

Your seasonal shopping list for this time of year contains a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, such as apples, artichokes, asparagus, avocados, bananas, beets, blueberries, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, citrus, greens, kiwis, leeks, mangos, mushrooms, parsnips, peas, pears, pineapple, potatoes, strawberries and locally grown spring onions as well as Vidalia onions.

My healthy recipes in this issue can be quickly put together, provided you do some prep work ahead of time, which is always my recommendation, no matter if it is a large or small meal. Not only are these dishes both tasty and healthy, they also feature colors that “pop” in any table setting.

Having a healthy body begins with what you put into it and I am a huge fan of using organic ingredients. There also are “hacks” to transition into a healthier diet, such as ditching cereal and donuts for Greek yogurt and berries. And throw some oats in, as kids will like that, and maybe even add a touch of coconut sugar or raw sugar. Or, you can switch to a paleo pancake mix. They’re available at retailers like Target now. And start cooking with olive oil and add garlic to everything. It’s going to give you that added flavor you need.

I love to entertain and married into a huge Italian family, so serving meals to large crowds can present a challenge. But it’s one that can be met with great success and be very gratifying. Make each meal as much fun as it can be for yourself and your guests, including children, and make it “pretty,” because if you’re eating natural and whole foods in all “the colors of the rainbow,” you know you’re on the road to optimal health. 

Interact with Jill and follow her lifestyle posts on Instagram @festivelysouthern and under Festively Southern Recipes on Facebook.

Lemon Garlic Shrimp with Asparagus and Mushrooms

1 pound extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 bunch of asparagus with stem end trimmed, quartered lengthwise
3 good-sized baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1 lemon
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt
Garlic salt
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish (optional)

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter and olive oil. › Add sliced garlic and asparagus and cook for approximately 4 minutes. › Add shrimp, mushrooms and crushed red pepper flakes (increase the amount of pepper flakes if you like a bit more heat), then season with garlic salt. › Cook, stirring occasionally, until each shrimp is pink and opaque, about 3 minutes per side. › Squeeze lemon juice over all the ingredients and add the white wine. › Season with kosher salt and garnish with Parmesan (and parsley if desired). › The mixture can be served alone or over linguini.

Superfood Salad

Mixed baby lettuce
1 gala apple, chopped
1 avocado, sliced
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup finely chopped broccoli florets
1/2 cup fresh goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup sliced rainbow carrots
1/4 cup chopped cooked beets
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl or individual bowls, start with greens and layer veggies and fruits on top, ending with the walnuts and cheese. › Garnish with salt and pepper. › For the dressing, use olive oil and fresh-squeezed lemon juice, or this citrus vinaigrette.

Citrus Vinaigrette

1 small shallot, finely chopped
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine first six ingredients in a small jar and season to taste with salt and pepper. › Shake to blend. › Cover and chill. › Shake before using. › Note: vinaigrette can be made one week ahead.

Roasted Broccoli with
Toasted Pine Nuts

2 heads of broccoli, sliced lengthwise into “tree” stalks
1/3 cup roasted pine nuts
3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin first cold pressed olive oil
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper
Shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400°. › Place the broccoli stalks and pine nuts on a sheet pan. › Drizzle the olive oil over the mixture and sprinkle with Italian seasoning and salt and pepper. › Roast until the broccoli is slightly browned on the edges, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. › Plate and garnish with Parmesan.

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