The PURPLES have it! What color are you eating?

I’ve been saturating myself in California history. I would love to have more time to read, but I’m slowly making my way through Kevin Starr’s multi-volume history of California, “Americans and the California Dream.”

When I opened my farm-fresh produce box this week I immediately grabbed my camera. I’m not always the most observant, but this week’s palette was so beautiful I didn’t just notice, I also flashed to a passage I’d just read.

“In the luxuriance of a bowl of grapes set out in ritual display, in a bottle of wine, the soil and sunshine of California reached millions for whom that distant place would henceforth be envisioned as a sun-graced land resplendent with the goodness of the fruitful earth.”

There are many aspects of California living stressful and not at all inviting, but when it comes to agriculture, we are rich!  Unfortunately I sometimes think we are so saturated with variety that maybe we are just a little spoiled. Occasionally I pull out a favorite mini-tirade about the pitfalls of taking our abundance for granted.

Eating around the color wheel is one of the games I play to prevent falling into a produce rut. I eat a lot of greens. You probably do, too. It’s just nice to mix it up a bit! Did you take a look at those grapes, figs, eggplant and purple onion? Royal colors for regal eating, I’d say.

You’re probably already very familiar with the claims that grapes and red wine (as well as peanuts and some berries) are heart-healthy due to the fat-soluble compound resveratrol. In animal studies resveratrol inhibits the growth of cancer cells. I was glad to see some purple grapes included.

And I love figs–beautifully in season right now! Figs are tremendous sources for calcium, magnesium and fiber, as well as having the reputation as a natural sweetener. The Japanese diet utilizes figs to reduce high blood pressure and high blood sugar.

The purples are simply good for you!

They include nutrients that improve the absorption of calcium and minerals. We sometimes forget that without a wide variety of micronutrients our bodies may not be able to fully utilize even the best of fruit and vegetables. The purple fruit and vegetables in my produce box are known to help lower LDL cholesterol, boost immunity, fight inflammation and are packed with a host of other energy and health and well-being efficiencies.

So tonight’s dinner represented the best of the produce box and the purples all came together in one giant fresh salad. We mesquite roasted the eggplant and purple onion with some of the last of our summer squash. A little olive oil mixed in, the vegetables were added to the grill and cooked until tender. A few of the figs were cooked lightly on the stove top with just a splash of fig-infused balsamic vinegar.

I prepared a nice mix of greens for the bed of the salad, and placed plenty of  vegetables, with beautiful eggplant and purple onion, cut grapes, and a dollop of figs lightly on top. I made a last-minute decision to add a generous cup of chickpeas for protein, but had I been thinking thematically I could have gone for purple-red kidney beans. Maybe it worked better with the contrast color of the chickpeas. I also think the chickpeas added a milder taste than kidney beans, and the eggplant and roasted onion were sweet, but bold.

Mixed with a very light fresh lemon vinaigrette it was just about perfect. If I’d been serving to guests I would have gone for a little feta. I could almost taste it, but I didn’t feel that we absolutely needed it tonight, so instead of those calories, I added in a few calories with crunch, fresh croutons.

It was delicious! I love to encourage eating well, so I would also eagerly invite you to consider a colorful direction if you’re in need of a boost!¬†There’s a lot of beauty in nature’s food palette. Think of your plate as the frame for a beautiful piece of art!

Saturday ushers in the first day of fall–and for me, a new produce box. I wonder what colors I’ll be eating next week?

45 thoughts on “The PURPLES have it! What color are you eating?

  1. Debra my appetite has not been great but your meal had me salivating. Figs with balsamic and a touch of crumbled goats cheese served in a lettuce cup is a favouite of mine. My nephew often prepares it as an appetiser when I visit. Your additions turn it into a wonderful main course. Love the idea of the croutons for a crunchy texture. I’ll be sharing your recipe with my nephew who is a wonderful, health conscious cook.
    Take care
    Tricia

    • I’m so glad I shared the recipe for the “purple salad,” Tricia. I am sure your nephew will probably take the recipe and make it even better. There wasn’t any special proportions and with the wonderful fresh ingredients there isn’t any way to spoil it! I hope you enjoy it and if you haven’t been eating well because of a sluggish appetite, I think it might be a real treat! :-)

  2. I’ve never thought about the regal nature of purple foods, but I see your point. Now, I’m in the mood for eggplant. Given that our eating plans for the next week days is relatively set, it will move into a week ahead. After all, i do much of the cooking!

    • I am so short on time in the evenings, Frank, that we eat a lot of salads. We roasted the vegetables ahead of time, and that made it very easy to put the salad together after work. :-) I like hearing that you do a lot of the cooking. I’m sure your wife appreciates that!

    • I DO know about you and figs, Kristy! We had your wonderful french toast for dinner the other night. That’s what gave me the idea for the figs on the salad! THe french toast was really excellent, by the way. We loved it!

  3. Debra, we got a big ole eggplant in our produce box on Tuesday, and MTM and I wonder what to do with it. Mesquite roasting sounds like it would get rid of the bitter eggplant taste we both find icky. How long does one leave it on the grill?

    • I’m sorry it took me all day to get back to you on how to roast the eggplant, Andra. We take the eggplant, squash, onions and any other vegetables that interest us and cut them into small pieces, blend them with a little olive oil, and then put them in a bbq basket on very hot mesquite. Any charcoal will do, I just happen to like a particular mesquite we frequently have on hand. The time is less than thirty minutes, but it all depends on how big the pieces are and whether or not I’ve crowded the basket. It takes a little practice. I’ve left it up to Jay a few times and he’s brought it in too soon and they were still almost hard! Ha! I do find the eggplant mellows out a lot, and part of it is probably the olive oil!

  4. Yes purple is good. I make my father a protein shake 2 times a day. In it purple-blueberries!! You know one of the best for one’s body. Also dark veggies… if you are allowed to eat them (no blood thiner) lots of Vitamin K. Yes egg plant lasagna…yum! I know we as SOCAL people have so much at are finger tips. I recall when I lived in Chicago back in the 1980′s for 4 years, I would shop and say “man this is sad produce.” Plus nobody liked avocados or gauc!! I used to serve at parties and I would end up feeding my face the entire bowl. But avocados …go fat!

    • That’s so interesting about the avocados! They just didn’t know what they were missing, did they! We are very spoiled, but at least in my own case I say that I’m truly appreciative. I hope your father is doing well. I have a good friend with Cancer who is seeing a nutritionist recommending she eat all the colors of the produce rainbow! I do think if we want to maintain good health we must put in the right ingredients! I can see that you feel the same…but I have to admit that when I’m into the guac I can put away more than my share of those fat and salt saturated chips! Ha!

  5. Dear Debra, I eat all those purple veggies. Eggplant goes in ratatouille and in eggplant parmigiana. The grapes I have almost every day and also the onions. Figs are really my favorite fruit but finding them here in Missouri is difficult. I used to find them dried at Christmas time in Stillwater, Mn. Your posting today makes me hungry! I’d best go and fix lunch as I’m salivating! Peace.

    • I would so enjoy sharing some of the fresh figs with you, Dee! When they aren’t in season I enjoy them dried, too, but it isn’t really the same, that’s true. I know you’re a careful eater as a vegetarian. You’re probably more creative with the different options than i am.. We eat a lot of vegetable-filled salads because I can make them quickly! Sometimes time trumps creativity for me.

  6. I love the idea of eating based on colour Debra ! But then I probably would…… your salad sounds simply delicious, and I’m wondering why I wasn’t invited ;)
    But oh to have fresh figs, ours come mostly from Turkey o rI think Bulgaria(?) and they are often quite dry by the time we get them, so to have ultra fresh must be wonderous ! And my little tree in the garden is a few years away from producing, aahhhh the gardener’s waiting game !

    • I wish I could share some fresh figs with you, Claire. I can imagine what you’d do with them! The birds brought me a fig tree, too, and I haven’t transplanted it yet because of the heat, but I’m hoping to find a good spot for it. You are so right about the gardeners waiting game. Let’s hope it doesn’t take too long! :-)

    • I chuckled, Kelly, because I hadn’t really thought about it before…you’re right! I do get excited about food! It’s a good thing I really love fruit and vegetables so that at least my enthusiasm takes me into mostly healthy choices! I’m glad you enjoyed the post and might enjoy the recipe. Obviously it’s not much of a recipe, mostly just a bowl of good ingredients, and very adaptable to what we have on hand!

  7. What a beautiful box of colour. I’ve heard that eating purple is very good for you. I try to eat a lot of eggplants, grapes, figs, purple potatoes etc – and it is fun looking out for purple produce. There seems to be more of it. Recently in my store there’s purple carrots and purple sweet potato. xx

  8. ‘There are many aspects of California living stressful and not at all inviting, but when it comes to agriculture, we are rich! Unfortunately I sometimes think we are so saturated with variety that maybe we are just a little spoiled . . .’
    Hi Debra, this quote about aspects of California living reminds me a bit about aspects of stressful living in Berlin. Many Berliners seem to be stressed quite a lot. Variety there’s plenty in Berlin. As far as variety of food is concerned, I think Berliners are immensely spoiled!
    I love the color purple! Wishing you a great weekend, Uta.

  9. Up with purple! I can’t get enough eggplant and just yesterday put up a batch of fig jam. I’ll be going to the farmers market tomorrow morning and I bet there’ll be something purple in my bag when I leave. I’m just not sure what. Oh! Maybe I’ll stop on the way home and buy an avocado or two. ;)

  10. Yummmmm! There’s nothing like fresh figs! My grandfather, who was an incredible gardener, had a large fig tree in his yard that he lovingly raised from a cutting (I swear he had a magical green thumb!). His fig tree bore the biggest, sweetest purple figs I’ve ever had. After he passed, my aunt lived in the house, and she was his polar opposite – gardens to her were nuisance time wasters. It broke our hearts when we visited her one week only to find the fig tree cut down to the ground. She said it was too much trouble and she couldn’t be bothered having it wrapped for the winter, even though we had already said we would do it. We not only felt the loss of those beautiful figs, but it felt as though another part of my grandfather was taken from us.

    Ooo, I just realized what a down note I ended on! Sorry about that! Have a great weekend and enjoy your purple bounty!

    • I eat a lot of vegetables and fruit, Karen, but like most things, I can choose the same things over and over. My weekly produce box ensures that I get more variety because I don’t have choices. I did have a nice surprise when I opened the box and saw all that gorgeous purple. We’re still eating some of it a week later…there was so much! :-)

  11. Oh my, Debra, I’m just now reading (don’t know how I missed it all these days) before dinner and I’m hungry for purple, especially those purple grapes I just brought home. I love the idea of eating around the color wheel and will use that idea for my own template. Thank you so much – and enjoy that box.

  12. I eat a lot of purples, basically everyday. My most favorite are cherries, but, now they are out of season on my side of the fence. I didn’t know figs where good for high blood pressure. Will start eating them as I enjoy them. Also, when living in NY we thought it was so cool to live in California, we would see surfers and the relaxed beach life in our mind’s eye. :)

    • I hope you’re doing well, Marie. I’ve fallen behind in some of my reading and need a good long day to get caught up with my blogging friends! I was interested in your comment that you ate a lot of the purple fruit and vegetables. I think I’ve neglected them for much of my life, but the produce delivery system decides for me, and perhaps that’s why I was so impressed. I opened the box and here was all that wonderful gorgeous color! I’m still eating the figs…they are so good, but they are rich! I hope you were able to get some for yourself.

    • Mentioning your more basic produce choices brought back a memory that made me smile, Kate. My paternal grandmother was born and raised in Scotland. She didn’t come to America until in her teens. She was such a good cook, but when it came to vegetables she never did branch out. Peas, green beans, maybe steamed carrots. I don’t think she developed much of a taste for more variety. She cooked a fabulous Shepherd’s Pie, though! We still talk about that. :-)

  13. Your produce basket is beautiful! I love figs, love grapes, but unfortunately for me I’m allergic to the “nightshade family of vegetables” [i.e eggplant, tomato, red and green peppers, and potatoes] so I can’t even have a teeny taste of your delicious sounding salad…

    We also make a fig salad with balsamic, goat cheese and nuts. Deelish!

  14. Yum! Your delicious post made me feel very peckish, Debra, and as usual, you gave us a great deal if interesting and useful information. DH and I usually have a huge mixed salad for lunch, with 8 or 10 different ingredients of many colours. We can positively feel it doing us good. :-)

    • I have always loved fruit and vegetables so it’s not hard for me to eat them and enjoy, but paying particular attention to a variety of colors has been kind of a new awareness for me. Now that I’m making it more like a little game or project I find I’m cooking choosing some of my “lesser favorites” and adding in a few more to my regular diet. I would be better off by far if I were consistent in making big salads for lunch. I may take your example and use it as a challenge! :-)

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