Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona Blog

Paint Your Plate Healthy & Delicious

Adding color to your meals not only makes your plate look beautiful, but it can help you live a healthier life. Fruits and vegetables that are colorful contain phytonutrients that help protect the plants from natural threats such as too much sun or disease. When you eat plant-based foods, the phytonutrients they contain reduce your risk for chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and obesity. Eating a colorful variety of fruits and veggies every day also aids in gut health which reduces your risk for autoimmune diseases, fights off infections, and even improves your mood

Try to incorporate some of these colorful fruits and veggies into your meals each day:

  • RED: Guava, pink grapefruit, red peppers, tomatoes, and watermelon contain lycopene, a phytochemical that may help protect against prostate and breast cancers.
  • PURPLE, BLUE and DEEP-RED: Blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, eggplant, grapes, plums, raspberries, and strawberries are full of antioxidants associated with keeping the heart healthy and the brain functioning optimally.
  • WHITE AND BROWN: Cauliflower, daikon radishes, garlic, leeks, mushrooms, onions, and parsnips contain allicin, which has anti-tumor properties.
  • GREEN AND YELLOW: Artichokes, arugula, chard, collard greens, corn, lettuce, mustard greens, summer squash, turnip greens, and wax beans are good sources of phytochemicals that accumulate in the eyes and help prevent age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in older people.
  • ORANGE: Apricots, cantaloupe, carrots, mango, oranges, papaya, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, tangerines, and winter squash contain beta carotene. This is converted into vitamin A in the body, which aids in the health of your eyes, bones, and immune system.

The following recipes incorporate many of these colorful options and can help you paint your plate healthy and delicious!

Rainbow Fruit Salad
Total Time: 15 minutes    Servings: 6

Salad Ingredients

1 C strawberries

2 tangerines (or 2 apricots or ½ papaya)

1 mango (or ½ pineapple)

3 kiwis (or 1 C green grapes)

1 C blueberries

1 C red grapes

Dressing Ingredients

3 Tbsp. fresh lime or lemon juice

1 Tbsp. honey or agave syrup


Rinse the strawberries, blueberries, and grapes in cold water and drain. Peel the tangerines and cut the wedges in half (or cut the apricots into halved wedges or cut the papaya in half, scoop out the seeds, remove the skin and cut into cubes). Peel the mango and cut into pieces (or cut the peel off the pineapple and cut the pineapple into pieces). Peel the kiwis and cut into pieces. Remove the crowns from the strawberries and cut in half. Halve the grapes, too. Place all of the fruit in a container. Mix the lime or lemon juice with the fruit and honey or agave syrup, then lightly toss to cover the fruit. Serve immediately or chilled.

Rainbow Roll-Ups with Peanut Sauce
Total Time: 45 minutes   Servings: 6

Roll-Ups Ingredients

Carrots, cut into matchsticks

Cucumbers, cut into matchsticks

Red cabbage

Curry hummus



Collard greens (leaf)

Optional: Cooked quinoa or rice


Peanut Sauce Ingredients

¾ C peanut butter (or nut butter of choice)

¼ C soy sauce (tamari or coconut aminos if gluten-free)

¼ C rice vinegar

2 Tbsp. honey

1 clove garlic


Prep: Trim the stem/spine of the collard leaf – don’t’ cut it completely off, but just cut it down so that it’s nice and thin and pliable.

Roll: Arrange your fillings on the collard leaf. Fold the ends in and roll from front to back, trying to keep everything in together and tight.

Peanut Sauce: Run all the ingredients through a blender or food processor.

Dip the finished rolls into the peanut sauce and enjoy!

Rainbow Veggie Pizza
Total Time: 55 minutes
Active Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6


1 lb. whole wheat pizza dough

¾ C pizza sauce

1 C shredded reduced-fat mozzarella cheese

½ C sliced mushrooms

1 C grape tomatoes, halved

1 C sliced zucchini

½ C sliced red onion

1 C sliced orange bell pepper

1 C sliced yellow bell pepper

Fresh basil for garnish


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Roll out dough to the size of the baking sheet, then transfer to the baking sheet. Using a large spoon, spread pizza sauce onto the crust, leaving a 1-inch border. Sprinkle with mozzarella. Arrange mushrooms in the center of the pizza, then add tomatoes around the mushrooms, followed by zucchini, onion, orange bell pepper, and yellow bell pepper, in a circular pattern. Bake the pizza until the crust is golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. Top with fresh basil, if desired.


Steve Norton, co-facilitator of BIAAZ’s Brain Cave Men’s Discussion Group, was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in 2006. While working as a private chef for a family in northern California in 2012, he experienced a hemorrhagic stroke, which caused paralysis on the left side of his body. Even though he had spent years ensuring those he cooked for ate healthy meals made with fresh ingredients, his own eating habits were poor due to long work hours and a busy schedule. The stroke proved to be the wake-up call Steve needed to take charge of his health and what he put into his body. He now uses food as medicine and believes people can heal their bodies from the inside-out. His Noggin column, The Cerebral Chef, offers recipes, ideas, and tips for incorporating and enjoying delicious brain-boosting foods.


The Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona (BIAAZ) is the only statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of adults and children with all types of brain injuries through prevention, advocacy, awareness and education. BIAAZ also houses the Arizona Brain Health Resource Center, a collection of educational information and neuro-specific resources for brain injury survivors, caregivers, family members and professionals.

What began in 1983 as a grassroots effort has grown into a strong statewide presence, providing valuable life-long resources and community support for individuals with all types of brain trauma at no charge.

The Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona:

  • Works with Congressional Brain Injury Task Force
  • Houses Arizona Brain Health Resource Center
  • Hosts virtual and in-person support groups for survivors and families
  • Has Statewide Opioid Use Disorder & Cognitive Impairment Response team with peer support, training, and family wraparound services
  • Facilitates Brain Health Advisory Council
  • Manages statewide Help Line: 888-500-9165

Blog Archives

Upcoming & Featured Events

Skip to content