A super easy, healthy tagine packed with rainbow vegetables
We’ve been making this healthy rainbow vegetable tagine at home for years – it’s one of our ‘go-to’ comfort foods. It’s super-easy, is gluten-free and a great meal to include as part of a detox programme, due to it’s high fibre and antioxidant content. The high levels of beta-carotene (the plant form of vitamin A) in it make it a good all-round immune supportive meal too – so one to include if you’re surrounded by people with colds!
Many people struggle to eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day; only 9% of teenagers and 30% of adults actually get there – which is a little scary. Not eating plant foods has implications for vitamin, mineral and antioxidant status, fibre intake and overall health.
Yet increasingly research is pointing to the fact that 7 or 8 portions is actually a better target, with fruit restricted to just a couple of portions. It seems daunting – and frankly a hard target when most people obviously find it hard to eat just 5 portions.
I find that switching to an ‘eat the rainbow’ philosophy (read more about this here) makes the concept much easier – moving the focus away from counting portions to instead counting the colours we’ve eaten each day. It particularly resonates with children – getting them to tick off the colours in their rainbow each day.
Why we should eat a rainbow:
One of the big upsides of following this philosophy is the diversification of nutrient intake, particularly phytonutrients. These are nutrients within the plant (that aren’t classified as vitamins or minerals) that help to keep the plant healthy. By eating them, they also can benefit our own health – helping to support liver detoxification, balance the immune system, reduce inflammation, maintain healthy cells and protect against cancer for instance.
This is why I like meals where the veggies are included in good quantities and this recipe definitely ticks the box. By including the chickpeas and using gluten-free quinoa as a grain, it’s also a good source of protein. One cup of quinoa has more protein than an egg – so it’s definitely a grain that we like to use. The combination of quinoa, chickpeas and dried apricots also adds iron – a mineral that nearly 50% of teenage girls and nearly 25% of women are low in. Vitamin C helps absorption of iron – and peppers are one of the best food sources of Vitamin C (yes, better than oranges!)
The tagine includes a range of colours: orange (squash and apricots), red (tomatoes and pepper), green (courgette), purple (onion), brown (spices), garlic (white) and to boost this even more, try using red or black quinoa (you’ll find it in some supermarkets and health shops). The spices and dried fruit add sweetness, which is why this recipe goes down so well with kids too (and they like a cheeky sprinkling of parmesan on top).
I make a large batch and freeze in small portions – it’s easy to heat up for the children after school. If you’re in a rush wholegrain barley couscous is a quick substitute for quinoa.
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