Video: Follow the rainbow to healthy holiday eating

With spinach pesto dip recipe: Serve with colorful fruits & veggies for party fare

When your next holiday soirée rolls around, think “rainbow” when filling your plate for healthy holiday eating. It’ll help you make healthy selections packed with phytonutrients.

Phytonutrients, found in fruits and vegetables, help reduce our risk for heart disease, stroke and certain cancers by lowering cholesterol, blood pressure and blood glucose.

According to Joyce Patterson, University of Michigan clinical dietitian, the best way to get the benefits of phytonutrients is to eat fruits and vegetables in a rainbow of colors— at least five different colors every day.

Here are just a few ideas for adding color to your plate.

• Bright red, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, sweet potatoes and carrots are a good source of carotenoids and help protect cells from damage.

• Dark green, leafy vegetables like spinach, kale and broccoli contain flavonoids and other nutrients.

• Dark red, blue and purple fruits and vegetables like cherries, grapes, blueberries and eggplant contain anthocyanins, which may help protect blood vessels, lower cholesterol and reduce inflammation, which are all risk factors for heart disease.

• White vegetables like garlic and onions contain plant sulfurs that may also help lower cholesterol.

Spinach Pesto Dip

Enjoy the colors of the rainbow at your next holiday party. Serve a variety of raw veggies with this tasty spinach pesto dip.

Makes 8 servings


  • 5 large garlic cloves
  • ⅛ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¾ cup all natural, low-sodium vegetable broth
  • ½ cup Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted until browned (optional)
  • ¼ cup carrot, grated and firmly packed
  • 3 cups fresh spinach leaves, chopped and firmly packed (add more spinach for a thicker dip)


Place garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, broth and cheese into a blender and blend on medium-high until garlic cloves are chopped.

Add pine nuts and carrot to pureed mixture in blender and blend until creamy and smooth in texture.

Gradually add spinach leaves to mixture and continue to blend until slightly pureed.

Place the dip in a bowl. Dip can be served chilled and may be stored in an airtight container for up to 24 hours. Serve with party crackers or vegetables.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size about ½ cup, Calories 140, Calories from Fat 90, Total Fat 10g, Saturated Fat 1.5g, Cholesterol 10mg, Sodium 190mg, Total Carbohydrate 6g, Dietary Fiber 3g, Sugars 2g, Protein 5g, Vitamin A 2%, Vitamin C 4%, Calcium 2%, Iron 8%.

Frankel-informal-vertical-sigThe University of Michigan Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center is the top-ranked heart and heart surgery program among Michigan hospitals. To learn more, visit our website at umcvc.org.