Incorporate colors in your diet to get a variety of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients
Editor’s note: This article first appeared in Vail Health magazine.
As any home economics instructor will tell you, a proper meal includes a balance of colors. That’s not simply because it looks better, though of course it does. It’s one of the best ways to make sure you’re consuming all of the nutrients your body requires to be healthy, fight off illness and prevent future maladies.
In terms of diets, Dr. Dennis Lipton, an internal medicine physician at Vail Valley Medical Center, said before you consider portion sizes or how often you eat, think about the food itself.
“The most important thing is what you are eating,” he said.
Vitamins and minerals impart specific colors to the foods they’re in; if you eat the rainbow, you’ll get all of the necessary nutrients.
“I always tell people to eat food as close to the way it was picked as possible. Therefore, local, fresh food is always preferred,” he said.
And that’s a concept Game Creek executive chef Steven Topple agrees with. During his tenure as the executive chef at Beano’s Cabin in Beaver Creek from 2006 to 2011, he helped make local and organic ingredients a top priority at all Vail Resorts restaurants. Raised by vegetarian parents, Topple creates dishes with a wide range of fruits and vegetables, in addition to the expected protein mains.
“I believe you eat with your eyes first, so making beautiful and colorful food is important,” Topple said.
Mix and match from the following dishes engineered by Topple to create your own multi-hued meal.
Granny Smith apple tower with pistachio, golden raisin and kiwi fruit coulis
Raisins add a decadent flavor, as well as fiber, vitamin B6 and riboflavin. In addition to adding some nice crunch, unpeeled, raw apples deliver vitamin C and fiber.
Though broccoli and spinach are easy and popular go-tos for green, don’t forget about kiwi, a super food that can double for dessert. It’s full of vitamins C, E and K, as well as fiber. This dish can be served with cooked apple or raw apple; following is the raw apple option.
2 Granny Smith apples sliced into thin rounds, skin on but seeds removed
1 Granny Smith peeled and diced, placed into lemon water while cooking
¼ cup toasted pistachios, skins removed
¼ cup golden raisins
1 cup apple cider
4 peeled kiwi fruit, roughly chopped
½ cup fresh spinach
In a small saucepan, place the golden raisins with half of the apple cider. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and add peeled pistachios.
Place the kiwi fruit and spinach into a blender with the other half of the apple cider. Puree until a smooth sauce has been made; strain using a fine strainer.
To plate, place a pool of kiwi fruit coulis on the bottom of the plate, and then place one apple slice and top with pistachio and golden raisins in a neat pile evenly distributed. Repeat twice more until an apple tower has been made. If you like, garnish with a little sprig of mint on the final assembly.
Juniper-rubbed elk tenderloin with beet-walnut rosti, red cabbage and huckleberry sauce
Walnuts are rich in iron, manganese, phosphorus and magnesium. Beets and elk tenderloin are both great local ingredients. Beets are rich in folate, manganese, fiber and riboflavin. Elk tenderloin is a lean protein rich in vitamin B12, as well as riboflavin, iron, zinc and copper.
4 6-ounce elk tenderloin portions
10 juniper berries ground fine (if you can’t find juniper, substitute allspice)
¼ cup frozen huckleberries
½ cup beef demi glaze
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 large red beets, peeled and grated
2 egg yolks
10 walnuts, slightly crushed
4 cups red cabbage, finely shredded
1 cup orange juice
2 cups red wine
1 juniper berry, crushed
Cook cabbage: Place ingredients into a small pan and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, until cabbage is soft.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and a sauté pan to medium-high heat. Season elk with salt and pepper and juniper berry dust. Sauté in a drizzle of olive oil, getting a nice, even brown all over the elk. Place into oven for 8 to 10 minutes for medium rare.
Make rosti: In a small bowl, mix beets with salt and pepper, egg yolks and a few crushed walnuts (save a few for later). Shape into small rounds. Cook in a nonstick pan with a little olive oil over medium heat. Crisp on first side about 2 to 3 minutes, and then flip over rosti and make golden brown on other side.
Warm beef demi glaze with huckleberries.
To plate, place beet rosti and cabbage in small mounds; slice the elk into thin slices and add to plate. Ladle on the huckleberry sauce, sprinkle walnuts around plate for decoration.
Chilled watermelon-tomato gazpacho with roasted red pepper salsa
Both watermelon and red peppers are good sources of vitamins A and C. Tomatoes are a powerhouse food: lots of vitamins A, C and K, fiber and potassium. What’s so great about vitamin C? It helps protect against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease and even premature aging of the skin.
Make soup 24 hours before serving; it’s best if the flavors have time to meld and develop.
½ small watermelon, peeled and diced
3 large vine-ripened tomatoes, diced
3 shallots, diced
½ cucumber, peeled and diced
1 jalapeno, chopped with seeds; remove if you don’t like spice
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 roasted red pepper, peeled, seeded and diced very small
1 shallot, finely diced
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
Place all gazpacho ingredients into a blender, and puree until very smooth. Strain using a coarse strainer. Check seasoning, and add more salt and pepper as desired.
In a small bowl, mix salsa ingredients together. To serve, place gazpacho into a bowl and sprinkle with red pepper salsa. Serve chilled.
Seared wild salmon with sweet potato-carrot hash and yellow pepper cumin coulis
Why eat omega-3 fatty acids? Omega-3s can curb stiffness and joint pain caused by inflammation. Additionally, they can lower elevated triglyceride levels and help prevent some heart disease. Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, niacin, vitamins B6 and B12 and selenium.
Carrots and sweet potatoes are good sources of vitamins A, B6 and C, potassium and fiber.
4 6-ounce wild king salmon, skin on and deboned
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 shallots, peeled and diced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
2 yellow bell peppers, seeded and diced
1 cup white wine (chardonnay)
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and sauté pan to medium-high heat. Season salmon with salt and pepper, place into a hot sauté pan with a little drizzle of olive oil, and then place into oven and cook until desired temperature, which is usually 10 minutes for medium rare and 14 minutes for medium.
In a small saucepan, sweat the shallots, garlic and yellow pepper in a little drizzle of olive oil. Once softened but not browned, add the white wine and reduce by half. Season with salt and pepper, add 2 tablespoons of water, and blend until smooth and thick. Blanch the sweet potato and carrot, dice together in boiling water, strain and cool. Sauté carrots and sweet potato in the olive oil with cumin, salt and pepper. Add a little maple syrup to help with browning and remove from heat.
Place the sweet potato-carrot hash into the center of plate, and then place cooked salmon on top of hash and spoon yellow pepper coulis around plate. Garnish with yellow pepper julienne, if you like.
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