There really is nothing like hot soup on a cold day. I highly recommend investing in some good thermos's. I think one of the ruts we fall into when packing lunches for kids is cold lunches. Step it up and send them to school with nutritious and warming foods. Especially in the winter months.
Today, I want to talk about the importance of COLOR. I have seen so many lunches, I had them as a kid, that are bland in color. Usually this means they are bland in nutrition and flavor as well. There is also evidence that color increases ones appetite and desire. It's more appealing to our senses.
What Gives Food It's Colors?
Certain nutrients are associated with the colors we see in fruits and vegetables.
Green Fruits and Vegetables
Green fruits and vegetables are typically rich in chlorophyll, glucosinolates, Lutein, Iron, Folic Acid, and Vitamin C and K, essential minerals, as well as many others dependent on the plant. These nutrients are associated with stronger, healthier eyes, muscles, bones and teeth.
Examples: Brussels Sprouts, Spinach, Kale, Broccoli, Arugula, Asparagus, Green Apples, Green Grapes, Honeydew, Kiwi, Green Pepper, Green Beans, Cabbage, Celery, Green Onions, Avocados, Pears, Limes, Zucchini, Peas...
Orange Fruits and Vegetables
Orange fruits and vegetables are known for their high levels of both carotenoids and flavonoids. As well as, antioxidants, vitamin C, and many others. These phytonutrients and vitamins are needed for proper hormone development, immunity, and cell growth and division.
Examples: Pumpkin, Mango, Carrot, Oranges, Sweet Potatoes, Peaches, Cantaloupe, Butternut and Acorn Squashes, Papaya, Orange Bell Pepper...
Yellow Fruits and Vegetables
Yellow fruits and vegetables are very similar to Orange in nutrients, being rich in flavonoids and carotenoids. These Flavonoids are necessary for proper immune and histamine regulation, to chelate iron and copper, and nourish skin and eyes. These fruits and vegetables are also typically rich in Vitamin A and C, and also carotenoids like beta-carotene, and much more essential nutrition. Yellow fruits and vegetables are also known to contain enzymes that regulate and stimulate proper digestion.
Examples: Golden Kiwi, Yellow Bell Peppers, Yellow Tomatoes, Yellow Beets, Pineapple, Star Fruit, Yellow Squash...
Red Fruits and Vegetables
Red fruits and vegetables are rich in carotenoids, such as lycopene, alpha and beta carotene, and the flavonoids anthocyanines. Lycopene, specifically, protects our skin from UV damage. Anthocyanines improve memory and brain function, and protect against cancers. These fruits and vegetables are also, typically rich in minerals like Iron, Calcium and Magnesium, as well as other vitamins such as C.
Examples: Tomatoes, Cherries, Cranberries, Red Bell Peppers, Beets, Strawberries, Raspberries, Red Apples, Radishes, Pomegranates, Kidney Beans...
Dark Colored Fruits and Vegetables
These can be dark blues, purples, reds and even blacks. These fruits and vegetables tend to be higher in antioxidants. They also contain other vitamins and nutrients like Vitamin K, C, E, B's, and essential minerals. These fruits and vegetables and an even higher range of anthocyanines, which is one of the reasons they go from red to dark deep reds and purples. These antioxidants protect our children from toxins in our environment, encourage proper brain development, and boost immunity. The vitamins found in these fruits and vegetables are necessary for the proper growth and development of muscles, bones, teeth and other tissues.
Examples: Purple Carrots, Blueberries, Blackberries, Eggplants, Plums, Elderberries, Figs, Grapes, Purple Cabbage, Black Salsify, Purple Potatoes
White Fruits and Vegetables
These are not the enemy by any means. They are also full of nutrition, but if the diet becomes bland and beige, we are missing out on a number of super important phytonutrients not found in our beige/white favorites. These fruits and vegetables contain compounds that helps to boost our immunity, and provide essential nutrients like potassium and fiber, as well as antioxidant minerals like manganese. The issue with white foods is that often they are that color because the nutrient have been ripped away through commercial processing. When choosing foods that are white, choose fresh produce that is rich in nutrients. Avoid white butter (butter should be orange), white breads, white no-skin potatoes, these are nutrient pit holes.
Examples: Garlic, Onion, Cauliflower, Ginger, Turnips, Daikon, Kohlrabi, White Corn, Parsnips (many of these could be classified in other categories. Ginger could be yellow, Kohlrabi could be a light green.)
Does the Color of Your Plate Affect How You Eat?
Yes! According to research from the University of Washington. Sight plays a big role in in taste. As humans, we associate in childhood foods and their colors with certain tastes. By increasing the color that are children are exposed to in their diet, we inhibit or increase certain emotions and associations with those foods.
Red Food illicit feeling of energy, intimacy and passion. Looking at red foods increases circulation in the body and heart rate (just by LOOKING at it). It also stimulates appetite, which is why many restaurants use red napkins and red curtains in the decor.
Yellow foods also stimulate the appetite, and also increase serotonin production in the brain, increasing feelings of happiness and pleasure.
(Red and Yellow, interesting combination used by many restaurants to stimulate appetite, cough…MacDonald's…cough)
Blue, surprisingly, does the opposite. Blues illicit the production of melatonin to calm and suppress appetite. The theory is that there are few foods that are actually blue. Many blue foods are toxic…poisonous berries, rotten meat, etc… Purple is different, it's technically a darker shade of red, and as such seems to stimulate similarly to red.
In another study, those who ate foods (same caloric intake an serving size) of different colors found that they felt for satisfied after eating a plate full of color, vs. a plate of only white foods. Color makes us happy as well as fills us with essential nutrition.