My plant-based meals in summer tend to be full of bright and lively coloured food: red, orange, and yellow tomatoes and bell peppers, tender green leaves, orange and yellow carrots, beets, avocados… And the list goes on! With these amazing foods, anybody can create good-looking and appetizing dishes that will stimulate your brain to get your body in digestion mode, because you want to eat those foods, right? I know I do!
Dark Hued Food
Apart from some vibrant colours, I like adding a bit of dramatic contrast to my dishes in the form of dark hued foods, not only for the visual change but also because they add different profiles of nutrients and amp up the nutrient density of my meal. The most prominent flavonoids found in purple foods are anthocyanins, the phytochemical that gives the food that blue/purple colour. But these aren’t the only phytochemicals: saponins, resveratrol and quercetin, among others, are also present, all of which provide protection against disease. Did you know that anthocyanins change the hue depending on the ph level of the environment? It turns the food pink in acid solutions, red-purple in neutral, and green in alkaline.
On the other hand, if you’ve walked the aisles of a farmer’s market or gone directly to a farm to buy your fresh and local produce (if you haven’t yet, what are you waiting for? it’s quite a sensory experience!), you might have seen the darker counterparts of a few familiar foods: black carrots, radishes, peppers, string beans, and also rice, quinoa and walnuts. That, in addition to the regular dark and brown coloured foods: dates, cacao, olives, lentils, beans… And I am also going to include a couple of dark foods some of us might not be eating enough: mushrooms and sea vegetables. Mushrooms provide a savoury, umami layer to your meals, and are a rich source of mineral selenium, and sea vegetables, whose colour come in brown, black, red, and green, offer the broadest range of minerals, in particular iodine. Quite a deal!
Eggplant this is one vegetable that you wouldn’t eat raw, as it contains an irritant that can cause gastro-intestinal issues, that’s neutralised when cooked. I like it sliced, dressed with herbs and oils, broiled in oven.
Nori you’ve probably eaten nori in your Japanese maki, but don’t be afraid to tear a sheet into pieces and sprinkle on your salad, or any other dish for additional flavour and nutrition. And toasted nori sheets make a great snack as well!
Figs oh so delicious and soft figs that melt in your mouth! These fruits, which grow mainly in the Mediterranean region, are an expensive, but a worth it, raw treat. Fresh is my preference, but I also use dried preservative-free figs, like in this muffin recipe.
Portobello I use many kinds of mushrooms every day in my kitchen, even medicinal ones, but Portobello is the king. Pan-fry it with some oil and herbs and fix it as a burger. Yum!
What are your favourite dishes using these darker-coloured foods? If you’re interested in trying your hand at some new plant-powered recipes, why not join us for a delicious evening in the studio?
Get some colour on your plate with my Super Quick Quinoa, a hearty side for any summer meal!
Super Quick Quinoa
What’s In It?
1 1⁄2 cups quinoa, rinsed well
2 cups water
1⁄2 teaspoon Himalayan rock salt
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 scallions, thinly sliced
3 large carrots, thinly sliced
1⁄3 cup parsley, minced
1⁄4 cup arame seaweed (soak in water 15 minutes)
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
1⁄4 cup sunflower seeds
1⁄4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon Filsingers apple cider vinegar
1 clove of garlic, grated
Sea salt and pepper to taste
How It’s Made
1. Rinse quinoa and pour into saucepan over medium-low heat. After water is evaporated and the quinoa gives off a nutty smell, add 2 cups of water and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook covered for 10-15 minutes.
2. Combine all the vegetables in a large bowl. Add the quinoa and mix well. Whisk the dressing ingredients together and pour over the salad.
3. Mix well and refrigerate until chilled.
Recipe: Marni Wasserman
Content Contribution: Is Fernandez