September 11, 2011

Eat a Rainbow

"Roy G. Biv," my 6th grade science teacher, Mr. Rowles, said. "Memorize that, and you'll always know the colors of the rainbow. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet." I remember my mind wandering off into prisms of light; dreaming about white light splitting into the Roy G. Biv spectrum; dancing through millions of tiny raindrops each refracting white into many colors making up one huge rainbow after a storm or through the spray of a fountain; and wondering about the fabled pot of gold at each ones' end. (If I remembered that Au stood for gold, would that make the wandering thoughts okay during science class?) Rainbows and pyramids and...plates. Plates? What's inspiring about a plate to the average elementary school student?  

This salad came from my recent pondering of the new USDA food guidance icon, My Plate, which replaces the Food Pyramid. No one asked me, but it seems to me that the My Plate icon would be better suited for adult consumers, not school children. My Plate is easy to understand at a quick glance, something that could be tacked up on grocery store and restaurant walls to remind grown-ups, whom children are at the mercy of when it comes to food purchasing, of some good ratios to remember for their health and that of their kids. But is My Plate enough to inspire a generation of young people just learning about making food and lifestyle choices?
The now obsolete My Pyramid, by contrast, implies a rounded healthy life for kids. See all the young people playing outdoors? See the kiddo bounding to the top of the pyramid, symbolizing the achievement of greater health through nutrition and exercise? The ratios are still easily understood at quick glance by looking at the size of each food group slice. This is exciting stuff.

I love the Food Pyramid, and am really sorry to see it go. How can the My Plate icon even come close to offering this kind of inspiration?

This Eat a Rainbow Salad is offered to all the teachers and kids in the world who have gone back to school, and all the moms and dads who's routines have been turned upside down to get their kids there. I hope that it will remind the grown-ups of the good stuff they give to our children, and that that good stuff really can spark imaginations, change lives, and improve healthy outcomes. The salad is easy enough for even young kids to help make, and, it packs well for lunches, for both teachers and for kids who might like to eat a rainbow.

Eat A Rainbow Salad
1 cup orzo, cooked in 4 quarts water, drained and rinsed
Red stuff:
cherry tomatoes, halved
diced red pepper
Orange stuff:
orange cherry tomatoes, halved
Yellow stuff:
pattypan or yellow crookneck squash, sliced into bite sized pieces
Hungarian pepper, sliced thinly
Green stuff:
green beans, sliced into thirds
green onions, thinly sliced
fresh basil, thinly sliced
(OK, so there's no blue stuff!)
Purple stuff:
purple kohlrabi, sliced into quarters then thinly sliced
purple onion rings for garnish

In a skillet, swirl pan with extra virgin olive oil. Quickly saute yellow squash, green beans and kohlrabi until just beginning to soften, to al dente. Put all ingredients, except garnish in bowl. Top with dressing.

Dressing:
Juice of on freshly squeezed lemon (more yellow stuff!)
equal amount of extra virgin olive oil (eyeball it)
salt, pepper
Shake all ingredients together in a jar. Pour over salad and lightly mix until evenly coated.

19 comments:

  1. A beautiful bountiful salad.
    I never knew of Roy G. Biv till I came to the USA. How about these two for long winded mnemonics.
    Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain

    Ring Out Your Great Bells In Victory

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  2. I love your food pyramid and wonder if you would mind my using it?
    I work with children on the Autism spectrum and am teaching a healthy lifestyle program to a few of my clients. Using both the plate and your pyramid will open terrific conversations about both physical activity and good food choices.

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  3. Dreagermansgal, the My Pyramid is a USDA program, and their great teaching materials are available at http://www.choosemyplate.gov/kids/.

    My best, Pam

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  4. Delicious! I keep hearing the skittles commercial where the kid whispers at the end of the advertisement, "Eat the Rainbow"

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  5. I love the idea of a rainbow salad to get your kids to understand the importance of eating many different kinds of fruits and vegetables. Also a great way to get them to help you in the grocery store - a rainbow scavenger hunt.

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  6. Fran, your rainbow scavenger hunt is an incredible idea with a good educational component built right in. Terrific, and worth passing on.

    Draegersmangal, I forgot to thank you for your tremendous work with our autistic community. As stepmom to a wonderful son on the spectrum, I applaud your efforts wholeheartedly.

    Culinary Lens, you must be British!! I love the 'round the globe perspective on our good ol' Roy G. Biv acronym.

    Thanks to all for your support into today's Foodbuzz Top 9!

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  7. How great! What a great way to get the whole rainbow!!!

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  8. Fresh & fabulous!
    xo
    http://allykayler.blogspot.com/

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  9. Congrats on the top 9! This looks so yummy!

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  10. Beautiful salad and fantastic recipe..I love this combination, and of course look very tempting beside how beautiful and colorful it looks! Thanks you for sharing and have a wonderful night!

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  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  12. I know that I am bit late but Congrats on well deserved top 9!

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  13. Eat a rainbow. I love it!!! kate@kateiscooking

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  14. Great post! Eating habits certainly start early. The salad looks delicious too!

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