Farmers market salad packs a colorful punch

07/30/2013 4:13 PM

07/30/2013 4:13 PM

The Da Vinci Code isn’t the only code worth cracking this summer.

To help more Americans eat the recommended five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day, various government agencies have color-coded fruit and vegetables into five color families: green, blue/purple, white, yellow/orange and red.

If you’re interested in a comprehensive list, go to www.5aday.org, but rest assured the plot line for produce is really less complicated — and certainly less controversial — than a Dan Brown thriller.

All you really need to remember? The deeper the color, the more bang for your health.

That’s because the pigments that give fruits and vegetables color contain antioxidants, compounds credited with preventing premature aging, dementia, blindness, heart disease and cancer.

The Star’s Farmers Market Salad combines an impressive mix of summer stone fruit from a wide color spectrum — peaches, nectarines, plums and cherries — served on a bed of seasonal greens. They’re referred to as stone fruits because a hard stone pit protects the seed.

Peaches, nectarines and plums contain good amounts of antioxidant carotenoids and vitamin C. If cherries are not in season (look for them later this month and in August), try strawberries, which are loaded with vitamin C and potassium. All these fruits contain fiber, particularly if you leave the skin on.

The salad is dressed with a light vinaigrette and sprinkled with toasted walnuts, a nut high in healthy omega-3 fats.

Shopping tips:

Walnut oil is high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Increasingly found at large supermarkets, La Tourangelle ( www.latourangelle.com) is a popular brand. (Just remember to go easy. Despite its healthful antioxidants, walnut oil contains 120 calories per tablespoon.)

Cooking tips:

Ever notice how fruits that have been cut tend to brown quickly? But when the fruit is tossed with lemon juice, the antioxidants in the lemon juice preserve freshness by keeping the fruit from oxidizing.

To toast walnuts: Place chopped walnuts on baking tray. Bake at 350 degrees about 7 minutes or until lightly toasted.

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