NDSU Extension - Benson County


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You Are What You Eat

By Kimberly Fox, Extension Agent Family Nutrition Program/Family and Consumer Science

You may have heard the phrase, “you are what you eat” which could not be more true.  What we eat is directly linked to how healthy or unhealthy our body is.  All foods have some effect on our body, far beyond the effect of making us feel ‘full’.  We need to be aware of what we fuel our bodies with so that we can stay strong and healthy throughout our lifespan. 

It is probably no surprise to you that fruits and vegetables provide nutrients that make your body healthier.  What you maybe did not know is that different colors of fruits and vegetables each have unique vitamins and minerals that help specific parts of your body.

Red fruits and vegetables are known to help prevent heart disease, some cancers, increase memory function, and also helps to keep the urinary tract healthy.

Consuming yellow or orange fruits and vegetables can be beneficial to your vision, immune system, and can also prevent against heart disease and some cancers.

When choosing white and brown fruits and vegetables, you may be lowering your cholesterol and blood pressure.  This color of fruits and vegetables has also been known to fight infections and cancer.

Green fruits and vegetables can provide your body with strong bones, teeth, good vision, and healthy skin. 

Increased memory function, healthy aging, cancer prevention, and urinary healthy can be provided by consuming blue and purple fruits and vegetables.

Remember, the key is to eat a variety of colors so that you can enjoy the benefit of the fruits and vegetables you consume.  The healthier foods you choose, the better your body will feel.

Below is a recipe for Chicken Ratatouille.  It is packed with ingredients from the protein and vegetable group and is full of color.  Enjoy!

Chicken Ratatouille


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 chicken breast (medium, halved, skinned, fat removed, boned, and cut into 1-inch pieces)
  • 2 zucchini (7 inches long, unpeeled and thinly sliced)
  • 1 eggplant (small, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes)
  • 1 onion (medium, thinly sliced)
  • 1 green pepper (medium, cut into 1-inch pieces)
  • 1/2 pound mushroom (fresh, sliced)
  • 1 can tomatoes (16 oz, whole, cut up)
  • 1 garlic clove (minced)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons basil (dried, crushed)
  • 1 tablespoon parsley (fresh, minced)
  • black pepper (to taste)

Directions:  First, heat the oil in large non-stick skillet. Add chicken and sauté about 3 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Add zucchini, eggplant, onion, green pepper, and mushrooms. Next, cook about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add tomatoes, garlic, basil, parsley, and pepper; stir and continue cooking about 5 minutes, or until chicken is tender.

Makes: 4 servings.  Each serving contains 287 calories, 8 gram of fat, 369 mg of sodium, 20 carbohydrates, 6 grams of fiber, and 36 grams of protein. 



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