Photos and styling by Angelina Marie, Short Eared Dog Photography

Nutritional health should be a sustainable lifestyle,” says Rachel Hutto, a clinical nutrition manager at Northwest Texas Healthcare System. With a graduate degree in nutrition, she has spent the past five years as a dietitian in a hospital setting. Instead of looking for a quick-fix diet, she recommends making small adjustments over time in pursuit of a well-rounded diet—specifically one that provides a wide array of nutrients through fruits and vegetables. 

One way to do that is to “eat the rainbow,” as recommended by nutritionists like Hutto. In this issue, she provides recipes that offer a full spectrum of colors. “Each color provides different phytochemicals,” she explains, “compounds naturally made by plants that have antioxidative effects on our bodies.” 

Hutto recommends the standard of five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. “Eating a wide array of fruits and vegetables provides fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. We should focus on thinking about getting multiple servings of green, red, purple, yellow, orange and even white fruits and vegetables on a weekly basis,” she says. Colorful fruits and vegetables also offer anti-inflammatory benefits. 

In fact, Hutto says a colorful, well-rounded diet of all food groups, including a couple of weekly servings of fish and adequate calorie intake, should keep most people from even needing dietary supplements. (Pregnant women should still take supplements as advised by their physicians.) 

Focusing on nutritionally dense foods like those in these recipes doesn’t just improve physical health. “It promotes a healthy relationship with all foods, which is beneficial to our overall mental wellbeing,” says Hutto.

Ground Turkey Taco Boats

Three Bean Salad

1.2 pounds ground turkey
½ yellow onion, diced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
¼ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon fresh oregano, dried
½ teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 packet low-sodium taco seasoning
1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
8 zucchini
2 ounces low fat shredded cheese

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Trim end off zucchini and cut in half; use a spoon to scoop out centers and discard. Use 2 tablespoons olive oil to drizzle over zucchini halves and season with granulated garlic. Bake for 20 minutes or until slightly soft. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a sauté pan and place on medium heat; add diced onion, minced garlic, oregano and cumin. Sauté until translucent and aromatic. Add ground turkey to pan with onion and garlic, season with taco seasoning packet and cook thoroughly. Once cooked through, add tomatoes and cook over low heat until thickened. Remove zucchini from oven and fill with ground turkey mixture; top with cheese and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Makes 8 servings

Nutritional Information: 

Calories 216; fat 8 grams; saturated fat 1.5 grams; cholesterol; 40 milligrams; sodium 50 milligrams; carbohydrates 17 grams; fiber 4 grams; protein 23 grams

1 red onion, diced
1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans
1 (15-ounce) can black beans
1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans
1 jalapeño, diced
1 bell pepper, diced (I prefer red bells.)
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
½ teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup cilantro, chopped

Add onion, jalapeño, bell pepper and garlic into a bowl. Drain cans of beans, rinse, and add to bowl with other vegetables. Combine olive oil, red wine vinegar, Tabasco, lemon juice and cumin into another bowl and whisk. Pour dressing over beans and vegetables and stir to coat. Top with cilantro.

Makes 12 servings

Nutritional Information: 

Calories 245; fat 5.5 grams; saturated fat 0.5 gram; sodium
99 milligrams; cholesterol 38 milligrams; carbohydrates 36 grams; fiber 9 grams; sugar 2 grams; protein 12 grams

Oatmeal and Greek Yogurt Fruit Pizza

1 cup whole wheat flour
¾ cup old-fashioned oats
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 large egg
¼ cup Swerve brown sugar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup low-fat vanilla Greek yogurt
1 kiwi
½ banana
¼ cup blackberries
¼ cup strawberries
½ cup mandarin oranges

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Add whole wheat flour, old-fashioned oats, cinnamon and baking powder into a bowl and mix. Add egg, canola oil and brown sugars into a separate bowl and whisk. Combine wet and dry ingredients and mix until dough forms. Flatten into a circle on a baking sheet. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden around the edges. Remove from oven and let cool. Cut fruits into desired sizes. Top oatmeal cookie crust with Greek yogurt and then with fruit as desired. Serve as a pizza!

Makes 12 servings

Nutritional Information: 

Calories 155; fat 7 grams; saturated fat 0.5 gram; cholesterol 1 mg; sodium 12mg; carbohydrates 18 grams; fiber 3 grams; protein 4 grams

Ask the Nutritionist:

If people could make one dietary change heading into the new year, what should it be? Cut out added sugars and get your five [fruit and vegetable servings] a day! Sugar-sweetened beverages can easily be replaced with calorie-free sugar substitutes or simply try water flavored with fruit, such as citrus. 

How do you deal with sugar in an overall nutrition plan? Is it necessary to eliminate sugar entirely? Eight-five percent of our calories every day should come from nutrient-dense foods, leaving 15 percent of calories from added sugars and saturated fats—with the recommendation of less than 10 percent of calories coming from added sugars. Natural sugars still have their place, otherwise we would never be able to benefit from the other nutrients that fruit or dairy provides to us. While added sugar isn’t necessary, it is also important that we maintain a healthy relationship with food. We should never have foods that we “don’t eat” based on nutritional makeup—unless we have an allergy or other medical condition. Instead, we should think, “Added sugar isn’t ideal. However, I would like to enjoy a brownie tonight and I am going to serve myself a single portion of a brownie because that is something I want to enjoy.”

What are the best sources of plant-based protein? Pulses, the edible seeds of the legume family of plants, are a great source of plant-based proteins. These include beans, lentils and peas. We can also find plant-based proteins in tofu or other soy-based products like TVP (texture vegetable protein), which is a great vegetarian replacement for ground meats.

Can you share your meal-planning tips?
Meal-planning should include five main concepts: adequacy, balance, variety, control and density. We should have enough calories to maintain our metabolic rate. We should have a balanced intake of macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fat) as well as eating a variety of foods that provide these macronutrients. We want to see control in forms of appropriate portions and remembering that a good relationship with all foods is important—dessert, bread, pasta, etc. should be enjoyed at an appropriate portion size. And lastly, we should think about nutritional density: How many vitamins and minerals are we getting for every calorie? We want nutrient-dense foods most of the time!