Eat the Rainbow Winter Edition Week 1: Produce Myth #1- Are All Processed Foods Bad for You?

Diana J. Smith

Happy Thanksgiving & WELCOME TO THE CHALLENGE!

I trust you all had a delicious and enjoyable Thanksgiving! For my thoughts on holiday eating, check out this article: Permission to Overeat on Thanksgiving! Plus 5 Holiday Eating Tips. (Side note: I recently gave a talk on Mindful Eating during the holidays. If you’d like my tips on that, let me know.)

I’m so glad to have you with us through this winter edition of our Eat the Rainbow challenge! I hope you’ll learn a lot and find new, delicious ways to improve your health over the next 12 weeks. 

As part of our challenge, I am asking you to keep track of your fruit and vegetable intake. If you don’t have the time or capacity to do the tracking, don’t worry about it. Just read the emails and try out the recipes! However, for those who want to maximize their chances of successful behavior change, tracking can help!

I don’t need you to track everything you eat, just when you eat fruits/veggies during the day. Feel free to track for yourself using an app on your phone or a simple piece of paper with a pen. I often use this printable form to track my weekly progress. Then at the end of the week, you will enter your intake via this google form!

It should be pretty simple, but if you have any questions let me know!

If you haven’t filled out your growth level quiz, please do that ASAP so that we can send you your level and you can see how you progress over the challenge! FIND THE GROWTH QUIZ HERE!

This week, we’ll be addressing a common myth about healthy eating!

MYTH: All processed foods are bad.

FACT: Processed and convenience foods are a great way to get more nutrition into your day!

Processed foods are a big topic these days. I always hear people say that we should never eat processed foods. The thing is, there is no official definition of a processed food. Some people call anything pre-packaged processed, others only mean foods with a lot of additives. To me, a processed food is anything not found in its natural state.

Watermelons don’t grow pre-cut and in a convenient, ready-to-eat package so I’d say that is some “processing”.  Oreos, while delicious, aren’t exactly something I could forage for in the woods so again, I’d called that processed, and to a greater extent than the watermelon. 

So are processed foods bad? Absolutely not. Are they more convenient? Definitely. For me, the more convenient a vegetable is, the more likely I am to eat it. To be totally honest, some days I struggle to get vegetables on the table- life is pretty hectic and busy. Processed food options make it a lot easier.

The frozen, steam-in-bag veggies are some of my absolute favorites. So are the pre-mixed salad bags- check out the “recipe” below for some ideas about how to make them your own! 

At the end of the day, the healthiest fruit or vegetable is the one you actually eat!! If processed foods make it easier for you to get the nutrients you need, then they are a great option. 


Cabbage is part of the cruciferous vegetable family (along with broccoli, cauliflower, kale, etc.), and has some great health benefits! 

This group of vegetables is known for their cancer-preventing properties, and many studies have linked increased consumption of cruciferous vegetables to decreased incidence of several types of cancer.

Cabbage and its cruciferous friends are high in fiber, folate, vitamin C, and compounds called glucosinolates.

Glucosinolates are compounds that have been shown to prevent cancer by increasing carcinogen elimination from the body and increasing the production of tumor-fighting proteins. 


Raw, steamed, or roasted – cabbage can be eaten in a variety of different ways! It often gets a bad reputation for being bitter and smelly, but if prepared correctly it is delicious! Try out this Roasted Cabbage recipe for the easiest way to prepare it, just a few slices, brushing with oil, and into the oven until it’s crispy!


Try a “convenience” fruit or vegetable- bagged salads, pre-cut fruits, or ready-made entrees that include vegetables.


Alright, so this week’s recipe isn’t so much a recipe as a tip. Call it a produce hack : – ) We’re talking about Salad kits. The pre-packaged salads all ready to go in the produce section of the grocery store are a great way to get your vegetables in, including this week’s highlight- cabbage. 

My favorite is the Sunflower salad kit from Fresh Express (and no, they didn’t pay me to say that, but I wouldn’t mind if they did!!) It’s got green and red cabbage, romaine lettuce, kale, carrots, sweet onion vinaigrette, roasted edamame, roasted sunflower seeds, and toasted quinoa- YUM!

The best part of these kits is that you have everything you need, all ready to go as it but you can also customize them. I like to add in any lettuce or greens that I’ve got in the fridge to bulk them up a bit and keep from wasting what I already have. 

Do you have any favorite time-savers? Leave us a comment and share your veggie tips with everyone!


Eat the Rainbow Winter Week 2- Produce Myth #2: Frozen vs. Canned Fruits & Vegetables

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