Saturday, April 24, 2021

THE PICTURE OF HEALTH: Colors reveal nutritional values of fruits and vegetables

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By Kathy Milley, DeCA Corporate Communications

April 1, 2021

FORT LEE, Va. – Colorful fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and other key compounds that help our bodies to function properly, facilitate the development of a strong immune system, and lower the risk of illness from immediate and chronic disease.

“While shopping the commissary, make it a point to fill your basket with each of the colors of fruits and vegetables from the fresh, frozen or canned sections of the store as this will help you get the nutrients you need,  advises Deborah Harris, registered dietitian and the Defense Commissary Agency’s health and wellness program manager, MPH, RD, CDE.* “When choosing fresh or frozen foods, the key is to choose items that have no added fat or sugar and are lowest in sodium. Don’t forget to use the recipe resources on to help you incorporate these foods into your weekly menu plan.”

Aim to build at least half of your meal with colorful vegetables, fruit or a combination of both helping to keep the overall daily caloric intake down while helping to meet your fiber needs.

The following is a list of the most common foods in each color category and a sample of dietitian-approved recipes using those foods will help you get the most from your nutritious eating plan:


Bok Choy, asparagus, cabbage, collard greens, Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard, avocado, artichokes, broccoli, celery, cucumbers, green beans, green onions, green peppers, kale, kiwi, leeks, limes, okra, pears, peas, lettuce, spinach and zucchini

Try these recipes from Steam Baby Bok Choy with a Garlicky Ginger Drizzle; Strawberry and Asparagus Salad; Chicken and Asparagus Bundles; Sautéed Collard Greens; Stove Top Stuffed Collard Rolls; Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Apples; Pressure Cooker Pork Loin with Apples and Swiss Chard; Vegetarian Swiss Chard Frittata; Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas; Chocolate Avocado Pudding; and Curried Cabbage Sautee

 Orange & yellow:

Mandarin oranges, carrots, sweet potatoes, peaches, apricots, pineapple, acorn, butternut and yellow squash, cantaloupes, corn, grapefruit, lemons, mango, nectarines, oranges, orange peppers, papayas, pumpkins, tangerines, yams, yellow peppers, pears and yellow apples

Try these recipes from Mandarin Orange and Basil Smoothie; Mandarin Beef Stir Fry; Pressure Cooker Beef Roast Dinner; Troy’s Sweet Potato Breakfast; Twice Baked Loaded Sweet Potato; Chicken, Sweet Potato and Wild Rice Casserole; Chicken Tacos with Peach Salsa; Navy Chief’s Bean Peach Salsa; Grilled Pork and Apricot Skewers; Frozen Apricot Smoothie; Sweet and Spicy Chicken; and Refreshing Pineapple and Greens


Cauliflower, mushrooms, potatoes, bananas, garlic, onions, parsnips, shallots, white corn and white peaches

Try these recipes from Stir-Fry Cauliflower “Rice”; Shepherd’s Pie with Cauliflower Topping; Baby Portobello “Pizza” Bites; Swedish Meatballs with a Surprising Twist; Chef Robert Irvine’s Bangers and Mash with Pea Puree; and Crispy Skinned Baked Potato Pierogi Style

 Red & Pink:

Apples, beets, cherries, cranberries, pink grapefruit, pomegranates, radishes red peppers, red potatoes, rhubarb, strawberries, tomatoes, watermelon, red grapes and cranberries

Try these recipes from Apple and Fresh Basil Salad; Roasted Pork Loin with Stewed Apples; Watermelon Chicken Tacos;Stuffed Peppers; Lemon Pepper Chicken with Braised Beets and Beans; Strawberry Mango Salsa; Chicken Stuffed Tomatoes; and Harvest Stew with a Touch of Moroccan Flair

 Blue & Purple:

Blueberries, blackberries, dates, eggplant, grapes, plums, prunes, raisins and purple cabbage

Try these recipes from Grilled Eggplant Sandwiches; Blueberry Reduction for Grilled Chicken Tenderloins; No-Cook 48 Hour Steel Cut Oats; Cabbage and Sweet Cilantro Slaw; and Pancakes, Plums and Greek Yogurt

“Make the most of your benefit by knowing the health benefits of each produce color, building a basket with your favorites and remembering frozen and canned fruits and vegetables count, too,” said Harris. “Then look for ‘Dietitian-Approved Thumbs Up’ items along the center aisles to round out a nutrient-rich menu. The payoff to your health and performance will be significant.”



Visit  and click on the healthy living link for  dietitian-approved recipes, tips and links to assist you in meeting your health and wellness goals, and for help with planning meals.


*Harris has a Masters of Public Health degree, and is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator.

 PHOTO CAPTION: Army Capt. Stephanie Meno shows her daughter, 1-year-old Imogene, an orange at the Joint Base Lewis Main, Washington, Commissary. (Photo: Capt. Joshua Springer, 62nd Medical Brigade)

About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Commissaries provide a military benefit, saving authorized patrons thousands of dollars annually on their purchases compared to similar products at commercial retailers. The discounted prices include a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.

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