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updated: 4/19/2012 11:11 AM

Rainbow salad highlights healthful veggies

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  • A colorful array of vegetables brings a number of nutrients to Rainbow D's 20% Cooler Pasta Salad.

    A colorful array of vegetables brings a number of nutrients to Rainbow D's 20% Cooler Pasta Salad.
    Bill Zars

By Jerome Gabriel

My mom has been telling me to "eat a rainbow on my plate" since I was in kindergarten.

"Eating a rainbow" is another way of saying you should eat a variety of fruits and vegetables (not that you should eat different colored candies).

Different colors of fruits and vegetables have different vitamins and sometimes those colors determine what vitamins are in the food.

You know the colors of the rainbow, right? I remember it as Roy G. Biv: red, orange, yellow, green, blue-indigo and violet. If you only ate one color, like if you only ate red apples, you'd be missing out on tons of nutrients from the other fruits and vegetables, like vitamin K in broccoli and vitamin C in oranges.

Salad is a good way to eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables and pasta salad is a tasty way to get that variety and also some carbohydrates.

My salad started with edamame, which are raw soy beans. They're green and mighty fine. They come in fuzzy green pods, but not slimy pods like an alien. You don't eat the pod, you pop the beans out of the pod.

From there I started thinking of other vegetables that could go in my pasta salad. While we were shopping I looked at a vegetable, thought about what it tasted like, got that flavor on my tongue and then thought about what other vegetables would go with it.

I picked bell peppers for red, carrots for orange, corn for yellow, edamame for green and red cabbage for violet. There's not really blue vegetables and I didn't want to put blueberries in the salad because I didn't think it would taste good. Rainbow rotini, corkscrew-shaped noodles, plays into the rainbow theme. If you're a bronie, or MLP fan, you'll appreciate this salad even more.

A word from Mom: Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Derpy ... I never thought that raising two boys I'd need to learn names of My Little Pony characters but it seems to be all the rage right now (Stephen Colbert even gave a shout-out to his bronies) and since I can't find a downside to it, I'm just going with it.

While I might question Jerome's pick of morning TV shows and YouTube viewing, when it comes to this salad I'm confident in his choices.

Since the boys were toddlers I've tried to incorporate a number of hues into mealtime. We always have two types of produce on the plate; sometimes that means broccoli "trees" and apple slices, carrot sticks and grapes, or a chopped salad and clementines. I gave edamame to the boys early on and they seemed to like the hands-on approach. They look a bit like lima beans but are more plump and vibrant green. You can find in-the-pod edamame in the fresh produce section, while beans both in and out of the shell usually are in the freezer section.

Edamame is high in fiber (4 grams in a cup) and a great source of protein (22 grams). That same cup also has 262 mg of calcium, zero cholesterol, 970 mg potassium and 31 mg vitamin C. For comparison, one cup of 2 percent milk contains zero fiber, 10 grams protein, 352 mg calcium, 19 mg cholesterol, 423 mg potassium and 3 mg vitamin C.

"My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic" always ends with a message about how to be a good friend and such. Our message today is clear: Eat a rainbow.

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