Just because our gardens (or local farmers markets) aren't overflowing with colorful produce, doesn't mean we shouldn't be eating the rainbow. Including a colorful array of fruits and vegetables in our daily diet ensurea that we get a full range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients and fiber to keep us healthy, any time of year. The 5-A-Day The Color Way guide (www.5aday.org) organizes produce into five color categories and recommends that we eat at least one serving from each color group, every day. This is a great way to visualize getting all our servings of fruits and veggies. Even the kids will enjoy getting involved! Here's how the rainbow breaks down:

Red fruits and veggies contain phytochemicals that promote heart health. They include red apples, blood oranges, cherries, cranberries, red grapes, pink grapefruit, pomegranates, raspberries, strawberries, watermelon, beets, red peppers, radishes, red onions, rhubarb, tomatoes, etc.

Yellow/Orange fruits and veggies contain antioxidants like Vitamin C and carotenoids that help prevent cancer, protect the heart and promote overall health. They include yellow apples, apricots, cantaloupe, grapefruit, lemons, mangoes, oranges, papaya, peaches, pineapples, yellow beets, squash, yellow peppers, pumpkin, corn, yellow tomatoes, etc.

White fruits and veggies contain immune stimulating and cancer fighting phytochemicals. This category includes both white and brown colored produce like bananas, white peaches, brown pears, cauliflower, garlic, ginger, jicama, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, potatoes, turnips, etc.

Green fruits and veggies contain powerful antioxidants that fight cancer and promote overall health. They include avocados, green apples, green grapes, limes, green pears, artichoke, arugula, asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, green beans, celery, cucumbers, lettuce, green peppers, spinach, zucchini, etc.

Blue/Purple fruits and veggies contain anti-aging and health promoting phytochemicals and antioxidants. They include blackberries, blueberries, dried plums, purple figs, purple grapes, plums, raisins, black olives, purple cabbage, purple carrots, eggplant, purple peppers, etc.

So brighten up your diet with these fresh ideas and follow the rainbow to good health!

Apple & Gruyere Chicken Panini: Layer grilled chicken, sliced gala apple, arugula leaves and Gruyere between two slices of whole grain bread. Press in a George Foreman grill (or in a sauté pan, grilled cheese style) until warmed through.

Roasted Beets with Baby Spinach & Goat Cheese: Peel and chop beets, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 350˚ for about 30 minutes, or until tender. Let cool. Top baby spinach leaves with the roasted beets and crumbled goat cheese. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

Tropical Fruit Salsa: Dice papaya, mango, pineapple, cucumber, tomato, and red onion. Mix together and add sliced scallions, a fresh squeeze of lime juice.

Asian Mushrooms: Sauté portobello mushroom slices with chopped garlic and ginger and a drizzle of soy sauce and sesame oil.

Zucchini Puttanesca: Julienne zucchini then sauté with chopped onion, garlic, tomatoes, basil and capers. A sprinkle of chili flakes will add a kick of heat.

Eggplant Napoleon: Thinly slice eggplant, drizzle with olive oil, and grill 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from grill and layer with thinly sliced mozzarella, tomato and chopped basil.

Jennifer Spaide received her master's degree in human nutrition from Columbia University. She is a personal chef and freelance writer residing in New Canaan. As founder of GreenChic, she is dedicated to inspiring individuals to get fresh with their food and eat their way to a healthy life. Visit www.thegreenchiclife.com to learn more.