10 February 2014

Eating our colours

I want to let all my readers know that apart from occasionally linking to my sponsors, I never link to commercial sites. Never. I got an email from a woman yesterday who told me she's not reading my blog again because she got a virus from one of my links. I don't know how she got her virus but I know it wasn't from one of my links. I think she must have downloaded a virus, simply by going to a rogue site, and it showed up when she visited here.  All the links below are to medical and nutritional information. And please be assured, I appreciate your visits and always endeavour to provide a safe platform here.

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I got lured in by red food the other day. I wanted to make salmon patties and when I looked in the stockpile cupboard, there was no pink salmon. I had a few cans of red salmon so I decided to use that instead. When I started preparing the patties, I realised I only had organic potatoes and I didn't want to use those in the patties, so I boiled a couple of red/orange sweet potatoes instead, then peeled a red onion. As food as I had the patties made and in the fridge, I took time out to look up red food on the web.

I knew there had been research done in recent years about the health benefits of phytochemicals - the part of food that gives it colour. If you're eating fruit and vegetables for the health benefits, the deeper the colour, the more of these phytochemicals you'll be getting.  And by the way, phytochemicals are never in vitamin supplements, they're only in food.  

  • Allicin is found in onions and garlic. Allicin blocks or eliminates certain toxins from bacteria and viruses.
  • Anthocyanins are found in red and blue fruits (such as raspberries and blueberries) and vegetables. They help to slow the aging process, protect against heart disease and tumors, prevent blood clots, and fight inflammation and allergies.
  • Biflavonoids are found in citrus fruits.
  • Carotenoids are found in dark yellow, orange, and deep green fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, parsley, oranges, pink grapefruit, and spinach.
  • Flavonoids are found in fruits, vegetables, wine, green tea, onions, apples, kale, and beans.
  • Indoles are found in broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, kale, Brussel sprouts, and turnips (also known as “cruciferous” vegetables). They contain sulfur and activate agents that destroy cancer-causing chemicals.
  • Isoflavones are found in soybeans and soybean products.
  • Lignins are found in flaxseed and whole grain products.
  • Lutein is found in leafy green vegetables. It may prevent macular degeneration and cataracts as well as reduce the risk of heart disease and breast cancer.
  • Lycopene is found primarily in tomato products. When cooked, it appears to reduce the risk for cancer and heart attacks.
  • Phenolics are found in citrus fruits, fruit juices, cereals, legumes, and oilseeds. It is thought to be extremely powerful, and is studied for a variety of health benefits including slowing the aging process, protecting against heart disease and tumors, and fighting inflammation, allergies, and blood clots.
When I went back to the kitchen, I decided to make up a red meal. Red fruits and vegetables "Contain nutrients such as lycopene, ellagic acid, Quercetin, and Hesperidin, to name a few. These nutrients reduce the risk of prostate cancer, lower blood pressure, reduce tumor growth and LDL cholesterol levels, scavenge harmful free-radicals, and support join tissue in arthritis cases." Source. All brightly coloured fruit and vegetables are good for you and the medical advice is to eat a colourful variety every day, but my preference that day was for red food. 

As well as the red salmon, red onion and red sweet potato fish cakes, I made a salad of red vegetables - red capsicums/peppers, tomatoes, radishes and finished it off the chilli jam.  We also had coleslaw which was not red but had to be used. Dessert was watermelon. 

To make eight salmon patties, boil potatoes and mash them. You'll need about 2 cups. To the mashed potato, add the broken up salmon, finely chopped onion, two eggs, salt and pepper. Mix well together. Form into patties and cover with bread crumbs. Fry in a shallow frying pan until golden on both sides - about 15 minutes. Serve with a red, green or rainbow salad of your choice.

Does colour play a part in your food choices?



  1. Although I never let my meal choice depend on the colour of the food, I just love the natural bright colours food can have. I'm not fond of beetroot, but yesterday I kept on marveling over the lovely magenta of the soup... it just seems to taste better!

  2. A pre-Valentine's Day meal! I like to use sweet potato in my salmon patties, rather than regular potatoes.

  3. A colorful plate of food adds to our enjoyment of a meal because it is just so more appealing. I'm sure Mother Nature's use of color is designed to attract us and other wildlife to healthy food. This is another reason to incorporate a wide variety of fruits and vegetables into our diets - eat the rainbow!

  4. I recent had some computer issue. I'm clueless were they came from but I got most of them token care of. Maybe some here can tell me why I can't sign in to my google account on a firefox browser. Then also I've been having trouble with my reader-writer using firefox.
    I don't use color to decided my meal but I try to avoid prepared food out of a box.

    Coffee is on

  5. Hi Rhonda,

    Colour does indeed play a part in my food choices, for the reasons you have listed, and I work at getting a good cross section of colours - if not throughout the day, throughout the week at least.

  6. Dora, I have no problems signing into my Google account using Firefox but perhaps someone else can help. Rhonda, I wonder if the virus that lady got came from a Pinterest site as I have clicked on some random ones in the past and my antivirus programme has told me the site is a bit dodgy. We eat a lot of beetroot as I read that the red vegetables especially beetroot are good for the blood. That is interesting info you have compiled. Thanks for that.


  7. Isn't it funny how things go around. Many years ago, when I was taught nutrition, meal planning and cooking at school (in the days when useful things were taught at school), the base of our (anglo) meals was one protein, one starch, three veg (at least one red/orange/yellow and one green). That was considered a balanced plate for your nutritional needs. Maybe old Mrs Scrimgeour had it right.

  8. Interesting. I don't exactly use colour other than trying to have a good variety of it on the plate, I notice if that variety isn't there.

  9. If we looked back into our food of the past, food combining plays a major role in our consumption. All colours in whole food are great and having a one colour night is a fun thing to do. However, we need to me mindful in our modern age of processing that the salmon in the tins we consume (unless they are organic) are raised in pens in the sea, they are fed genetically modified grains and a heap of antibiotics and additives that actually harm our body more than they nourish it. Even the fresh salmon is effected. Delve into google and have a look at the salmon industry in Tasmania, it's full of fish with tumors and disease and it's effected the local wild population of the fish (we have seen this first hand)
    Just another area we need to be wary of when nourishing our families
    x x

  10. I am more and more conscious of colour when I am choosing what to eat for myself and my family. Foods that I enjoy I will look up to find out there benefits and so have been eating more of those things that I like beetroot, berries etc. Recently I discovered that drinking grape juice has many health benefits too like being great for the immune system, helping with migraines, anti ageing properties and helping to prevent tumour growth. A great post Rhonda and I love the look of those salmon patties might just have to give them a try:)

  11. When my children were little I used to try and add as many different colours as I could to the meal. I know different colours ment different nutrients and the colourful meals were always eaten up by my kids. I never had trouble getting them to eat their veggies. I told them they were eating the rainbow. Lol

  12. I do like to "eat a rainbow" as I saw on Gardening Australia at the end of last year. That way I know that I'm not leaving out too many greens (my weakness, I'm not so good at greens). I find that what I serve and what is eaten are two different things with the youngest two in the house. So, I really never know whether they are getting a proper mix of colours, and therefore nutrition. I do my best. :)

    I'm not a "meat and three veg" person, though. I just like to count what has gone into the dishes and try to include all colours in the day's food. Sometimes that comes as breakfast grilled zucchini, for example :)

    1. I know what you mean about greens...my favourite way to eat more greens is to make pesto with whatever is going crazy in my garden (basil, coriander, etc). It goes with so many different things or I could even just eat it by itself :-)

  13. I love to sit down to a multi colour meal - four or five different vegies, brightly coloured. Will try the sweet potato with the salmon patties though...sounds yum!

  14. I really enjoyed reading this informative post Rhonda, thank you! That reminds me I now have a craving for salmon fish cakes.

  15. I had the most delicious fish cakes in Scotland last year and discovered that they were made with smoked salmon as well as a 'plain' fish. Now I always include a little bit of smoked salmon in the fish cakes, not the finely sliced variety but the chunky bits sold for cooking. Delicious!!

  16. I am mindful of the reasons to eat a range of coloured foods (though I can never remember the facts behind the reasoning! Just that it's good for you). I have had a run of ill health over the winter and at one point I was in Sainsburys and was drawn to the fruit and veg like a magnet - the display was incredibly colourful (good lighting helped I think) and I had to restrain myself from grabbing fresh fruit and eating it there and then! Whilst I eat a big variety of fruit and veg, my body on this day was just screaming at me that it needed more to help mend itself. I listened to it.

  17. Thanks for the information. We like to eat bell peppers and purple onions for health and taste. I like to cook salmon patties, too. I add 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup corn meal to a large can of salmon along with one egg and salt and pepper. I am going to try your recipe with potatoes. It sounds delicious!

  18. Thanks for all of the info, Rhonda. Your food looks delicious and has inspired me to make dear hubby some fishcakes which he loves .. Made out of salmon, of course.. Hope you had a great weekend..
    Take care...

  19. There are many things about my upbringing for which I'm very grateful and one of them is that my mom raised me eating - and enjoying - healthy foods. She had a small food budget but she always managed to make delicious and nutritious meals from scratch. My dad's food preferences were narrower than hers and perhaps because of this I wasn't exposed to some things until my 20s when I was married. Or it may have been because the budget didn't include some of the more expensive vegetables. In any case I have always tried new foods when the opportunity arises and as a result my repertoire of healthy choices is expanded. In being frugal, I aim to only use one protein at a time; though meat and cheese recipes taste nice I find they are full of calories and so the healthy choice also becomes the frugal one. I follow a list of proteins that helps me side step too much red meat without losing that pleasure altogether: beans, poultry, fish (as in tinned), lentils, cheese, FISH (as in not tinned), beans, meat, fish, lentils, nuts, FISH, beans, eggs, fish, lentils etc. allows us to eat oily fish (tinned or not) once a week. After the protein issue is settled - and I don't really plan the specific recipe unless we're really bored with the standbys - I try to serve at least one green and one red vegetable and we generally have chopped fruit for dessert (either plain, with yoghurt, rice pudding, evaporated milk or even whipped cream). I love your red meal! The only time I've attempted one of those was years ago when I threw a Valentine's party and served all red or pink foods! I don't think they were anywhere as healthy as your meal, mind!

  20. Years ago I read that red foods are very good for you just like you listed. I found a red soup recipe and always remember to cook it in the cooler months. In my encyclopedia of vegetables and vegetarian cook book: red capsicum, onion, garlic, can of chopped tomatoes, long grain rice, red kidney beans, stock, dried oregano and worcestershire sauce. Very filling but very healthy!

  21. When my girls were younger we used to talk about how many colors we'd eaten that day, aiming for 5. I think it helped make them aware of eating a variety of fruits and vegetables and made sure they were getting the benefits of each color group.


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