One of the most versatile recipes, appropriate for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even a snack!
WHAT IS THAT?! : Rainbow Bruschetta! This is a vegan recipe, and a paleo recipe as long as you use paleo friendly bread. Omit the bread to make this is a Whole30 or keto recipe!
This recipe is near and dear to my heart from when I was a vegetarian during graduate school. I would make this regularly for dinner, and it always had a feeling of warmth and home that I still feel whenever I’ve made it. I honestly hardly made this recipe once moving to Colorado, mostly because that was when I started to realize how my diet had to change. When I started re-creating old recipes that I loved before removing gluten, dairy, and other products, this one definitely jumped to the top of list.
Planning meals that are versatile are key when making meal plans on a budget. Not only do you want to make sure that the foods you make are healthy, tasty, and affordable, but it’s an added bonus if you can eat it for more than one meal. I love this bruschetta because of how simple yet versatile it is. (Can you tell why this was a staple during my graduate school days?)
Some of the simplest ways to eat this bruschetta are:
- Served with eggs for breakfast
- On a salad for a light lunch or dinner
- Overtop grilled chicken breast or shrimp for an easy weeknight meal that’s Whole30, paleo and keto
- Serve as an appetizer with some crackers or bread. Simple Mills brand is an incredible brand that makes delicious crackers and bread mixes. I highly recommend trying them out!
- If you can find paleo-approved pasta, this would definitely be delicious on top!
- Serve this with a little bit of vegan cheese to make it even more delicious!
- Put it on top of some pizza dough or flat bread
One of the other reasons why I love this recipe is because it is affordable all year long.
While in this recipe I recommend cherry tomatoes, that’s only because it saves you time chopping. There is really no reason to use only cherry tomatoes if you have other tomatoes on hand. Tomatoes are typically in season from May until October, which is when they are cheapest and tastiest. Buying tomatoes outside of their growing season is usually not a problem price-wise – tomatoes are usually very affordable, even if they’re not always the juiciest and more flavorful during the winter months.
Garlic and red onions also have a summer growing season, but can last for months when stored properly. The red onions and garlic that you buy at the grocery store have been selected because they’ve passed the test- making them available to us to enjoy all year long!
The trickiest part of this recipe is finding fresh basil. If you’re lucky enough to have a basil plant, this isn’t an issue for you at all and I am totally jealous! I currently live in a growing zone 4, which means we only have about 4 months without frost, and we have extreme winter weather. I love where I live, but being able to have fresh basil whenever I want it is something I think of and dream of often. For now, I settle for buying fresh basil at the grocery store and dreaming. Even though fresh basil does mean added costs for those of you who are buying it and not simply taking it off a plant you have at home, I have to say that it is well worth the cost in this case. You of course can substitute dried basil if you have nothing else, but nothing beats the taste of fresh basil. You’ll have to decide what’s best for your budget and your time when making this recipe!
If I haven’t convinced you that this is an affordable recipe just yet, in addition to it being Whole30, paleo, vegan, and keto friendly, there are plenty of reasons to make this that have to do with your microbiome.
If you’re unfamiliar with what your microbiome is, it is the group of microorganisms that live both in and on you that help you digest food and so much more. Your microbiome is a vital part of your health and wellness, and scientists are now linking your microbiome to living a healthy life. So what does that mean? That means that sometimes you need to feed your microbiome things that will keep the right balance of gut bacteria.
Now, before I move on, I need to put out the disclaimer that I’m not a doctor, nor a medical professional. I’m not a scientist of any sort, and don’t work in a lab. These are just facts about how your body works, and how eating certain foods might help keep everything running smoothly. I’ll always do my best to provide resources when I can, and am always looking for feedback if you are a doctor or a scientist who studies these things. This is definitely the teacher in me saying this: just because you’re reading it on the internet does not make it true, and if you’re having digestive issues you should definitely go see a doctor to get some real professional advice.
That being said, here is a great article from Harvard that talks about how studies have suggested that a healthy microbiome may be “key to preventing or treating common diseases.” It goes on to list that a healthy microbiome may help treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis, cancer, and heart disease.
Okay, so what does all this have to do with my rainbow bruschetta? So glad you asked.
Tomatoes, red onions, and garlic are all rich sources of pre-biotics. No, that’s not a typo; pre-biotics are “a group of nutrients that are degraded by gut microbiota.” That means that the ingredients in this recipe – and well, any time you have tomatoes, red onions, and garlic – that you are feeding your microbiome food that is delicious (to you) and nutritious (for your microbiome, and therefore for you). You are literally eating your way to better health.
And I haven’t even gotten to the part about vitamins, minerals, and fiber! But of course, that’s going to be another saga on this blog. I could go on for hours. Instead, here are a few benefits for each of the ingredients:
Tomatoes are low in calories, and rich in antioxidants. Specifically, they are high in lycopene, which is supposedly the most anti-oxidanty of all the anti-oxidants. How lovely for lycopene.
Tomatoes are also rich in potassium (take that, bananas!), and when they are eaten alongside healthier fats such as avocados or olive oil, your body’s absorption rate can skyrocket up to 15 times its natural absorption rate. I’ll also save you the long list of cancers that tomatoes are potentially good for pretending, but essentially, tomatoes are lovely.
Also, for those of you following your blood sugar, cooked tomatoes have been shown to help manage type 2 diabetes. Even more importantly, eating tomatoes also helps reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease. Since the risk and heart disease doubles with type 2 diabetes, tomatoes offer extra protection.
Also, before I forget – tomatoes are often sprayed with a number of pesticides before they wind up at your grocery store. I’m not going to go down the rabbit hole of organic vs. non-organic, pesticide free vs. using pesticides, etcetera (at least, not here in this post), but there’s a simple way to avoid consuming any chemicals: wash your tomatoes before you eat them.
Ah, yes, garlic. It adds so much flavor to recipes, stores for insanely long periods of time in your kitchen, makes the cutest little plants if you pot them, and keeps vampires from attacking you and your loved ones at home.
Okay, well not the last one. But the rest is true.
Garlic has been used for centuries in medicine, which is why its not surprising that modern day medicine is finding a ton of scientific evidence that garlic not only tastes good, but it adds enormous health benefits to any recipe you put it in.
Northwestern Medicine literally calls garlic “a nutritional superstar,” one of the reasons is because of allicin, a chemical compound found in garlic that has been found to protect against high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
It also might be a potential home treatment for the common cold. A study from 2001 found that when volunteers took a daily garlic supplement for twelve weeks, they were over 60% less likely to get a cold than their placebo counterparts, AND the length of their colds were reduced by 70%. That means that instead of their colds lasting five days, their colds lasted only a day and a half. I know they say that you can’t cure the common cold, but it seems like garlic does a pretty good job at making it less miserable.
And if that didn’t convince you, garlic can also help clear up skin, and even acts as a natural antibiotic. Just so we’re clear – that means the garlic is great against common cold viruses, and also some types of bacteria. So, maybe the cure-all garlic is why it was recommended against vampires…? (I’ll stop now).
But if you don’t care about those things, I can also vouch for it being delicious.
While doing research on red onions, I discovered that red onions have a bunch of cultural roles throughout time (pharaohs buried themselves with onions?!), and got sucked into that part of the internet for awhile. Cultural and historical stories aside, red onions provide many of the same health benefits as garlic. They belong to the same (food) family – the allium family.
There is one particular antioxidant, known as quercetin, that onions are packed with. Quercetin is one of the flavonoids (a type of anti-oxidant) that gives onion it’s anti-diabetic properties, for both animals and humans, meaning that it can help set off healthy chain reactions in your body to help with sugar regulation.
In addition to onions having antibacterial properties and reducing the risk of cancer, onions are a well known prebiotic that helps with gut health. Onions also have been linked to preventing osteoporosis, or bone loss. Lastly, onions fuel your brain and have been shown to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease and types of dementia.
So, there you have it! Onions are good for the mind, the body, and your taste buds.
There are many different types of basil, and you probably haven’t heard of them all. Basil is believed to have originated in Asia, Africa and Europe, and has over 60 varieties throughout the world. Some basil varieties have been used throughout different cultures for medicinal purposes, but they all taste delicious in their own way.
Sweet basil is the most commonly used today for recipes, which is why I recommend using sweet basil. While your local grocery store might have Thai basil, it has more of a liquorish aftertaste that some people might not be a fan of. There is definitely a time and place for Thai basil, but this is not the place. Sweet basil complements the tomatoes and other ingredients in a more natural way.
Also, some dried basil that you buy at the grocery store does not distinguish between Thai or sweet basil. Go ahead and give your dried basil a sniff– does it have a liquorish smell to it? That most likely means that your dried basil has Thai basil in it rather than sweet. But don’t worry – there are so very tasty recipes that are complemented by Thai basil.
While we’re on the subject of dried basil, many of the health qualities that fresh basil has are diminished by being dried. If you opt for dried basil, you are not just giving up taste, but health benefits as well! And while I know that it’s most cost effective to buy dried basil, it might be worth investing in your own basil plant at home to save yourself money and to continue cashing in on those health benefits!
Now, back to the wonders of basil.
In addition to having heart-health benefits, improving blood flow, and reducing inflammation, basil can contribute to healthy mental health. It can help reduce anxiety and depression, and may protect your memory. For those of you who are looking at ways to improve your mental health, basil could be an easy thing to add into a recipe and improve your life quality.
How to make Rainbow Bruschetta
Okay, okay, I’m done with the billons of health benefits of this bruschetta and will get on to the making of it. Although, I have to say, the science behind why this recipe is so delicious is almost as exciting as the bruschetta itself!
This recipe takes some time bake, but overall is simple and takes little to no preparation. It’s an easy thing to throw in the oven when you’re home from work, and cooks while you get other things done before you eat. You don’t need any fancy cookware either – just a knife for chopping, and an oven-safe pan that is deep enough to hold all your ingredients.
The directions for cooking the Rainbow Bruschetta are simple:
- Pre-heat your oven to 350* F
- Next, chop your onions. You can cut the onion as finely as you’d like, but I personally prefer my onions a little longer instead of tiny chopped bits. But it’s completely up to you!
- Place your onion, cherry tomatoes, and whole garlic cloves in the oven-safe pan (we’ll mash the garlic later once it has cooked through).
- Cover the ingredients with 3-5 tablespoons of olive oil. Some of you who are watching your calorie intake might want to stick to 3 tablespoons. This recipe is juicy without all the olive oil!
- Add salt and pepper to the mixture.
- Stir with a spoon, making sure the ingredients are evenly coated.
- Place your dish in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
- While the bruschetta is baking, chop up some fresh basil. I love big chunks of basil on my food, so I tend to leave it in bigger chunks.
- After the bruschetta has cooked for 20-25 minutes, pull it out of the oven and stir in the freshly chopped basil. You should notice that some of the cherry tomatoes look ready to burst – feel free to smush them with your stirring spoon (or wait until the end).
- Place the bruschetta back in the oven for another 10-20 minutes, or until the tomatoes are cooked through.
- Once you remove the bruschetta from the oven, take a spoon or fork and mash the garlic and tomatoes, and stir thoroughly.
- Serve with your choice of (vegan, gluten free, or paleo) bread! I love topping my bruschetta with vegan cheese to make it a little more of a hearty meal, but if you eat / tolerate dairy, goat cheese is an excellent option for this recipe!
Of course, setting aside all the health benefits of bruschetta and it’s affordability, there is always the fact that it simply tastes delicious.
Rainbow Bruschetta (Whole30, Paleo, Vegan, Keto)
- oven safe dish
- 1 red onion small
- 2-3 cups cherry tomatoes
- 3-5 cloves garlic
- 3-5 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- Preheat your oven to 350* F
- In an oven-safe pan, put 1 small chopped red onion, two containers cherry tomatoes, and 3-5 cloves of garlic.
- Drizzle olive oil over the ingredients, and mix with a spoon. Make this recipe a low-calorie meal by limiting your olive oil.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Place pan in the oven for 20 minutes.
- Remove pan from the oven and stir. Sprinkle with some chopped fresh basil before placing back in the oven! (I used 1 cup chopped basil because I LOVE it!).
- Place back in the oven for another 10-20 minutes or until tomatoes are cooked.
- Remove from the oven and smash the tomatoes and garlic with a fork or spoon before eating.
- Serve with food of your choice: eggs, cheese of your choice, over a salad, or on bread of your choice.
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