Spring is here and nature is in full bloom. There are flowers everywhere you look at this most colorful time of the year. Even our clothing appears lighter and brighter which elevates the mood of most people. This is a happy time of year as we await summer and more out of doors living. Of course, we perceive the world through colors and color is closely related to the appeal of various foods. In fact just the sight of food fires neurons in the hypothalamus. Multicolored meals are not only more beautiful, their pleasing aesthetic actually helps us appreciate and enjoy our food more. Studies of people eating under different conditions show that those who eat in the dark report not enjoying the food as much when they can’t see what they are consuming, so if you want romantic ambience, be sure to light enough candles that you can really see what’s on your plate as well as the person who is dining with you.
An attractive multicolored meal is not only good for your health and digestion, it also brings you pleasure. Chinese medicine recommends eating across the color spectrum. In the five Elements philosophy, foods are associated with different elements (water, wood, earth, fire and metal), seasons, colors, flavors, directions, organ systems, and environmental influences. For instance, green/blue foods are typically linked to the wood element and relate to the liver and gallbladder function; red foods are associated with fire and energy and relate to the heart; yellow foods are associated with the earth and the stomach, spleen, and pancreas. These five elements can be a helpful way of thinking about balancing your diet as they spread across the nutrition spectrum.
Various colors indicate the presence of different vitamins and minerals as well. Eating the full spectrum guarantees you’ll get a wide range of the necessary nutrients your body needs to maintain good health. This may seem simple but there is a tendency to gravitate toward certain colored meals—often white or brown. A mental pre-dinner scan of your plate to see if more than two colors are represented will tell you what you need to add. This is why restaurants often garnish with sprigs of kale or parsley or wedges of tomato. Even if people don’t eat them, their vibrant colors add life to an otherwise monochromic presentation.
Have you ever wondered why blue M&M’s were the last color to be added long after red, green, yellow, and brown had been melting in your mouth not in your hand for years? Until the advent of artificial colors and flavorings, blue foods just didn’t seem right to most people? Maybe there was an associated with mold, but other than blueberries and blue-purple potatoes, there are very few naturally occurring blue foods on this planet. To our ancestors, blue was a color warning that something might be wrong or harmful or spoiled. Interesting that today we carry some of the same food color biases and generally eat in accordance with them, whether we are aware of it or not. As we have become more health conscious with the popularity of the cooking shows and Food Network, more and more people are expanding their palates and choosing new and more nutritious cuisine. Restaurants are expanding their menus to include such vegetables as kale, arugula, eggplant, leeks, fennel, to name just a few. More and more menu combinations include side dishes of vegetable or fruits to accompany the main entrée. Most of these changes are driven by the need to encourage more healthful eating habits. In fact, some of the newest food trends include vegan and vegetarian restaurants only. The American is also consuming much less meat and more chicken and fish.
With the new food trends, color on the plate is even more important and the old saying “we eat with our eyes” hold true even more today as we demand eye appeal in even the most simple cuisine. We love our color in everything we do and see, so gaze at your dinner table with appreciation for what food is set before you and appreciate the artistry of the chef as well as his concern for your health and well-being.
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By Sue Stauffer
“Lost and Found Words”
Recently when I was recovering from minor foot surgery, I proudly exclaimed to my daughter that I was able to wear my “thongs.” She laughed and quickly informed me that “thongs” now referred to an undergarment that I was certainly much too old to consider wearing. (Corrected, I will now refer to my shoe apparel as “flip flops” hoping that this term doesn’t have a negative connotation also.)
Pondering this situation, I realized that many of the familiar terms from the past had been lost or were no longer appropriate. “Fenderskirts,” “curb feelers,” and “steering knobs” are car terms that have virtually disappeared from our language. (If you don’t know what these refer to, find someone over 50 who should know.) The “emergency brake” has become the “parking brake” today and no one says, “store bought” as everything is “store bought” today. “Coast to coast” once held some excitement and now means nothing since we live in a total global economy and take the “wide world” for granted. In the 50’s, “wall to wall carpeting” was really something special as opposed to hardwood floors. Now hardwood floors are back in style along with oriental rugs.
People in the 50’s didn’t use the word “pregnant” but instead said “in a family way” or “expecting.” Speaking to children, “a visit from the stork” was a polite way to announce the arrival of a new baby. Also pregnant women wore loose tops to hide their baby bumps which today are proudly displayed even in bikini swimsuits. The ancient term, “brassiere,” is now shortened to “bra.” We go to the “movies” not the “picture show.” If I called someone under the age of 50, a “rat fink” he wouldn’t even know what I meant.
Remember those wonderful marketing terms that were meant to sound so modern and now sound so retro: “DynaFlow,” “Electrolux” and “Admiral televison with SpectraVision?” Coffeemakers have replaced “percolators.” No one suffers for “lumbago” or takes “Carter’s Little Liver Pills.”
Children no longer fear “castor oil” remedies from angry mothers. Smoking which was so popular in the 50’s and 60’s is now frowned on and discouraged as causing cancer. Do they even make “Lucky Strike’ cigarettes? What happened to the Marlboro Man?
One word that is quickly joining the endangered word list is “supper.” Now everyone says “dinner” but the word “supper” conjures up warm memories of family times around the table with lots of laughter, conversation and fun. “Coming over for supper” was a special occasion shared with close friends and “comfort” food (a modern name for good old fashioned “home cookin”) was usually the preferred cuisine.
Everyday a new word is coined by advertising and marketing tycoons to sell products or services while many of the old terms become outdated and disappear from usage. Slang expressions come in and out of style even more rapidly. Expressions like “holy cow,” “jeez,” “gee whiz,” or “gosh
dang it,” would get a very strange reaction. Even “awesome” has become unpopular. What other new terms such as “selfie” are lurking on the horizon? Who knows, but we will all incorporate them into our everyday language while they are popular and eliminate them when there are new replacements. Isn’t it interesting to realize that some words, just like everything else, eventually wear out and are replaced? English is such a fickle language!
"Let There Be Color in Your Diet!"
By Sue Stauffer