I’m in love! With who or what you might ask? Well aside from the obvious answer, my hubby, I’m pretty smitten right now with beautiful red fruits and vegetables. Make no mistake about it, red is the color of love and spice, and in the food world there is no shortage of interesting facts and alluring recipes to complement this luscious fruit and vegetable category. Red has always been a staple color in my wardrobe. I love red shoes, red jewelry and especially red fingernail polish. It’s a color that is everywhere in our daily lives and is associated with words like danger, passion, spicy, fire, beauty, anger and STOP. It’s internationally recognized as a symbol of wealth, status and power while also reminding us of two of our favorite holidays — Valentine’s Day and Christmas. From the food perspective red can have a positive and negative side. On the positive side, red fruits and vegetables are not only appealing to the eye but contain nutrients such as lycopene, allagic acid, Quercetin and Hesperidin, to name a few. That’s a bunch of fancy names for things that are really good for you and help lower blood pressure, reduce unhealthy cholesterol levels, support join tissue and fight free-radicals that try to damage your cells. But if that isn’t enough to make you go grab a bunch of raspberries or a gorgeous red apple then maybe the fact that they protect against diabetes and can reduce your risk of all types of cancer might make you think twice. On the negative note not all red food is good food. The most common synthetic food coloring today is Red Dye 40. I always comb through the ingredients lists of brightly colored food products before my kids consume them to see if this devil dye is present. Chances are, if you take vitamins, use cough syrup, brush your teeth, wash your hands, shampoo your hair, launder your clothing and moisturize your lips on a daily basis — you come into contact with artificial dyes quite frequently.
What’s the big deal, you ask? They’re not natural, are a relatively unnecessary ingredient in any food and some studies have linked them to hyperactivity. If there are alternatives, I think we should use them. But naturally red foods — especially fruits and vegetables — are some of the most fascinating and diverse ingredients in the culinary world. Like I said before, make it fun and give your kids a challenge to see how many they can find on your next trip to the grocery store. And give these yummy and simple red fruit and vegetable recipes a try. I enjoyed the added bright red color in my busy kitchen this week and the kids loved it, too.
Black and Red Berry Good Smoothie
1/2 cup blackberries (frozen) 1/2 cup raspberries (frozen) 2 bananas, peeled (frozen optional) 2 cups fresh baby spinach (or other leafy green) 1 celery stalk (optional) 8 ounces filtered water, skim milk or almond milk
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 T of honey (optional)
Combine all ingredients in blender and process until smooth. Enjoy!