Last week, we were fixated on the color green as we toasted St. Patrick's Day. This week, our colorful obsession turns blue. Billiken blue.
While it was easy to add green foods to our diet — spinach, broccoli, avocado, lettuce and edamame, to name just a few, blue foods are — well, a little more challenging.
But as the Billikens prepare for March Madness, we turn to a Saint Louis University dietitian and basketball fan for inspiration and guidance on blue foods -- but not the sort that grow fur and hide on the back shelf of a refrigerator, trying to outlive their expiration dates.
"A lot of the blue foods are superfoods, which are loaded with nutrients and have extra disease fighting benefits," said Amy Moore, instructor of nutrition and dietetics at SLU. "Like our Billikens, blue foods -- and their purple brothers -- are unique and pack a powerful punch."
Both blue and purple foods get their color from a compound called anthocyanins, which have powerful antioxidant properties.
Among Moore's favorite picks:
- Blueberries: "This fruit is the darling of many dietitians, and tops just about every antioxidant list," Moore said. "Kids love them because they're round, sweet, little and fun to eat." Blueberries might even help you remember this record Billikens season -- scientists are studying the role of blueberries on memory. For an unexpected zing, throw some into a spinach salad for a pop of flavor, color and nutrition.
- Purple grapes: "Purple grapes are packed with vitamins, minerals and flavonoids that can help to protect the body's cells from damage," Moore said. Freeze them for a refreshing treat that you'll eat more slowly because they are cold.
- Greek yogurt parfait: Layer purple or blue colored berries -- black raspberries, acai berries, blackberries and blueberries -- with Greek yogurt for a high protein pick-me-up.
- Purple cabbage: Its deep purple pigment color is the tell-tale indicator of nutrients that can help lower the risk of many diseases. Low-cal and loaded with vitamins and minerals, this vegetable can be turned into a wickedly tasty slaw.
- Eggplant: This vegetable contains fiber, potassium, vitamin C and B vitamins. Slice it for a stir fry, roast it in some garlic and olive oil or pop some slices on the grill and layer on a whole grain bun with red onion, tomatoes and fresh mozzarella for a tasty sandwich.
- Blue corn chips: If you like to eat chips as you watch the big game, try adding some color with blue corn chips. Just don't eat a chip for every point the Billikens score.