Photos and Words by Stella Carnegie
Growing up, I only appreciated food for its ability to satisfy my hunger. But now that I am far from home and responsible for putting together my own meals, I see food in a whole new light. Not only do I love to cook, but I have also fallen in love with the rainbow palette of colors in food from the deep purplish red of beets to the sunny yellow hue of a freshly sliced pineapple.
I believe that eating should always be an experience that brings joy and enlightens all of your senses. Putting together any meal can become monotonous when you only see with your stomach. I want to inspire people to see more than just hunger satisfaction when they look down at their plates—to see their plate as a fresh canvas and their next meal as the masterpiece. In order to paint a masterpiece, artists must have an understanding of the paints and colors they use, how they work together and the effect they will have on their audiences. Similarly, to master the art of cooking and see a meal as a masterpiece, I believe it is important to understand why we eat certain foods, in order to best appreciate and enjoy them when we put a meal together.
There is more than just aesthetic beauty in the infinite variety of hues in foods like fruits and vegetables. Split into four general categories of Yellow/Orange, White, Green and Red/Blue/Purple, foods with color provide us with the nutrients and vitamins we need to grow, be healthy and feel good in our daily lives.
Yellow/Orange foods like pineapple, peppers, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe and butternut squash are often high in vitamins A and C, which help improve immunity as well as skin and eye health. Yellow foods specifically help to improve digestion and brain function.
White foods like onions, cauliflower, mushrooms and bananas are a great source of vitamin C, potassium, and allicin, which are known to healthily decrease cholesterol, blood pressure and risk of heart disease.
Green foods like kale, spinach, broccoli, and kiwi are high in chlorophyll, folate and carotenoid, which can help improve vision and reduce risk of disease. Many green foods are also high in vitamins A and C. The wide variety of nutrients and vitamins in all green foods makes them essential on a daily basis.
Red/Blue/Purple foods like beets, blueberries, eggplant and cranberries get their rich color from anthocyanin, a pigment that provides strong antioxidants for our bodies. Antioxidants are essential because they can help reduce stress, improve memory, protect the skin and strengthen the immune system.
I have so much fun putting together every meal and because of this I feel refreshed, energized, and like a master of the art of food. Consider this perspective next time you stock up on fruits and vegetables. Create a masterpiece that can treat your body as well as a beautiful painting treats your eyes. The plate is your canvas and the food is your palette. Let your imagination and creativity feed your eyes, heart, body and mind.