The Color Purple

Purple Kohlrabi. Healthline.com states that
“kohlrabi packs nutrients and antioxidants that may support immune health and lower your risk of chronic disease. Also, its fiber content supports a healthy gut microbiome.”

While today’s Andy’s Corner is a laugh-out-loud discussion of the color BLUE, the color purple has been on my mind lately. And the reason is not what you’d guess. It’s not that I’m thinking of Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, winner of the 1983 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Certainly, given today’s news, it would not be surprising to be thinking about this both sad and joyful novel. Rather I’m looking up info on purple vegetables and fruits – which I’ve learned are particularly good for you because they are high in anthocyanin, which has a positive effect on brain health, inflammation, and heart disease.  And I’m also thinking about politics and how red and blue blended together makes purple.

Back in 2009 professors from Cal State, Syracuse, and the U of Michigan published results of their research the gist of which was that “Colored maps depicting electoral results may exacerbate perceptions of polarization, rather than merely reflecting them.” Or to put it another way – red and blue maps make us believe that the country is more polarized than it actually is. The map above is a 2020 map showing what happens if you use shades of purple to indicate political preferences, rather than the starker red and blue. Does it make things seem a slight bit more optimistic?

from Santa Rosa’s Press Democrat, July 4, 2022

On a cheerier note, I am happy to report that these anthocyanin-rich purple foods are good for you.

You know I’m always looking for ways to keep my (our) brain healthy – and purple may be the direction to go! The Cleveland Clinic states:

Research shows that anthocyanins can help protect and improve your brain function: one study reported anthocyanins increased blood flow to and activated brain areas that control memory, language and attention.

We have lots of fun purple food choices. In our house we always have a head of red (which looks purple) cabbage in the fridge and use it regularly for quick and easy salads, so I’m happy to see that high on the list. Blueberries are ripening along our back fence (they’re beautiful bushes to have in your yard – in addition to their berry’s nutritional value). And I recently planted more elderberry bushes, which have yet to produce much for us but are wonderful for attracting bees, butterflies, and other pollinators – and sambucus caerulea, also known as blueberry elder or Mexican elderberry, is even drought-tolerant.

There have been no major studies showing exactly how many anthocyanins we should have per day – so just eat lots of these.
This reminds me of the almost weed-like elderberry bush we had growing at my Colorado home.

If you look through our BigLittleMeals recipes for purple eggplant, you’ll find slim pickings. Even though one of my favorite-cookbook-writers of all time, Yotam Ottolenghi, seems almost obsessed with aubergines, as he calls them, I don’t share his enthusiasm. But after seeing that eggplant – with its purple skin left on – is so high in anthocyanin, I decided to give it another try.

I definitely recommend that you search for varieties other than the common “Globe” eggplant which we see most often at the grocery store.
If you’re into vegetable gardening, consider planting the eggplant variety Orient Express next summer. It’s long, slender, tender – and doesn’t need peeling, so you keep that beautiful, nutritious skin on it

After searching for an eggplant recipe which might satisfy even those who swear they hate eggplant (it appears I’m not the only one who has some negative feelings about this veggie), here’s what I’ve come up with. Give it a try. And when you pull those hot, roasted, crispy, purplish, well-salted eggplant bits from the oven, nibble on a few of them. Even I found them d-lish!

Roasted Eggplant Salad with Tahini Dressing

Roasted Eggplant Salad with Tahini Dressing

This is perfect for the middle of the summer when eggplant, tomatoes and cucumbers are in season. If it’s too hot to roast your eggplant inside, just do it on your grill: slice the eggplant into 1″ slices, grill, turning, for about 10 minutes or until charred and soft – and then cut slices into 1″ squares.  Inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi’s Sabih

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

  • 2 eggplants – about 1 1/2 lb; I used Chinese Eggplants; small globe eggplants will work fine too; they should have purple skin – which is left on – to benefit from the anthocyanin.
  • 5 T olive oil (divided)
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 8 oz cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 2-3 cucumbers (I prefer Persian, Lebanese, or Japanese cucumbers), cut into about 1/2″ chunks
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 c chopped parsley
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled, quartered (optional), seasoned with salt and pepper
  • Pita bread for serving

Tahini Dressing (see our recipe)

Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Cut off and discard the eggplant stems, then cut them in half lengthways. Cut each half into 1 1/2″-thick wedges and put on a sheet pan.  Drizzle the eggplant with 4 T of olive oil, 1 tsp salt, a grind of pepper, and the oregano. Toss the mixture.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, turning the eggplant over once.  The flesh should be golden/brown and beginning to crisp.  Remove from oven and cool.

Mix together the tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, and parsley.  Season with salt and pepper.  Toss with lemon juice and 1 T olive oil.

To serve, spread about 1 T of the Tahini dressing on each salad plate.  Then add the roasted eggplant on top, followed by the chopped fresh tomato/cucumber mixture.  Place the pita and hard-boiled egg (if using) on the side.  Top the salad with a bit more Tahini dressing and serve.

If you want to make this into a sandwich, simply spread the dressing inside halves of toasted pita bread and then add the salad mixture.  Delicious and healthy!  Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.

6 Comments

  1. David Ewing says:

    We love beets and eat a lot of them–mainly because for one money a single bunch provides two vegetables–the greens and the beets themselves. And also, of course, because of the lovely tint eating them lends to ones excreta. But it turns out (unless the fellow that wrote the quote that follows is wrong) that they don’t contain anthocyanins. “While beets come in deep reds and purples, it’s not because of anthocyanins, Smith said. The purple color found in beetroot comes from betalain pigments, which replace anthocyanins in some plants. Betalains are also healthy antioxidants.” (https://www.k-state.edu/media/newsreleases/feb11/purplefood20911.html) Sounds like a distinction without a difference. And my opinion is that in any case it is a sin to be over-preoccupied with considerations of nutrition. Eat because food is beautiful and delicious!

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    • theRaggedys says:

      Andy here: For some reason I was anticipating a reference to one’s “excreta.” And your point that betalains and anthocyanins both have nutritional value gets us off the hook somewhat for our (unintentional) misrepresentation about why beets are so good for you. I especially appreciate your admonition to eat because food is beautiful and delicious. It gives me the motivation to head for the kitchen polish off the rest of that beautiful and delicious devil’s food cake in the fridge.

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  2. Bob Carleton says:

    We each have a dose of frozen blueberries, blackberries and raspberries each day. I forget about many of the others but like to make ground beef with cabbage using the red variety. As a kid, my favorites were beets and spinach… don’t get many beets any longer, but spinach remains a favorite.

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    • theRaggedys says:

      Andy here: I will have to confess that as a kid beets and spinach were quite a ways down on my list of preferences. In fact, they weren’t even on my list. But I do enjoy them now.

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    • theRaggedys says:

      Here’s from Healthline.com: “The skin of purple kohlrabi is particularly high in anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid that gives vegetables and fruit a red, purple, or blue color. A high intake of anthocyanins is linked to a lower risk of heart disease and may also benefit brain function.” Mmmm…it would have to be very young to be able to eat the skin.

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