Friday 2 April 2010

Eating by colours – orange burgers

I have written before about how much I love to have a wide range of colours in every meal. A variety of colours signifies a healthy meal to me, as well as a beautiful sight. So today is an unusual post in which I have thought about if I was serving meals of only one colour.

When I think of making food of one colour I think of the colourfully iced novelty cakes I have made for kids. However, if I have a beige meal such as this one, my natural inclination is to serve it with a salad of many colours. Or I might add a contrasting garnish to a soup or stew of one colour. Though I do love an occasional mono-color dish if it is bright and cheerful or dark and mysterious.
I decided to take on this challenge after discovering that a fellow Melbourne blogger, Neil of At My Table, was supporting World Autism Day today by asking bloggers to join him in making a dish of one colour. He is doing this to support parents whose autistic children decide they will only eat food of one colour. He notes that it can be a nightmare for these parents to come up with nutritional ideas, and I can imagine this is so after racking my brains for one-colour dishes.

Neil has a very personal interest in Autism Spectrum Disorder. He has a young daughter with autism and has written a very moving post about what it means to be the parent of an autistic child. For more information you can also go to Autism Victoria. I haven’t met Neil, despite being at Eat Drink Blog Conference with him recently but I wanted to support him because the conference made me want to make more of an effort to connect with local bloggers.

Thinking about dishes of one colour has helped me explore the variety and nutrition that can be found in just one colour. I have looked at my index and selected some foods to group under each colour. I struggled a little with pink and didn’t come up with any ideas at all for blue. Quite a few dishes were borderline – especially some of the beetroot dishes, which could have been red or purple, depending on your perspective. I have seen blog events that focus on foods of just one colour but the only one that I can remember is A Taste of Yellow by Barbara at Winos and Foodies.

As well as thinking about colours, I was aware that children can be very picky about strong and/or new flavours and some children like my niece Quin prefer that food isn’t all mixed up like in a stew. But it did occur to me that, even for a sauce or gravy, neutral coloured foods like white beans, white sauce, cream, and tofu present a great opportunity to blend in a coloured vegetable to make a more nutritious coloured food. My suggestions are all vegetarian, in line with my diet. I am not sure how helpful they will be to others but they have helped raise my awareness of this issue.

At the end of the colourful lists I have included a recipe for some tofu carrot burgers that we ate this week. It was a burger where I just threw in whatever was around and interested me, but I tried to keep the flavours simple so that Sylvia could eat it. I served it with corn on the cob and cauliflower and broccoli baked with a cheese sauce. It was a most pleasing me for the adults.

Sylvia ate quite a bit of the burger and even some broccoli and cauliflower in a plain white sauce (made before I added vintage cheese and baked it) on the first night. On the second night I thought I might go all orange and add pumpkin to the leftover cheesy white sauce and vegetables. She turned up her nose. I could only be glad that if one dish fails, steamed broccoli is always gobbled up. It was also good to comfort myself that the burgers were full of a whole range of nutrients.

Carrot Tofu Burgers
Serves 4
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 250g firm tofu, crumbled
  • 1 cup dried breadcrumbs
  • about 1 cup cooked basmati rice
  • 1 cup (about 25g) cornflakes
  • 1 tsp soy sauce (or to taste)
  • half tsp ground cumin
  • dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 eggs
  • olive oil for grilling
Mix all ingredients together, except the oil. Take handfuls of the mixture and shape into patties. Mine were quite moist. Place on the grill tray and brush with olive oil. Cook under the griller (broiler) on medium heat until they start to look cooked and golden (maybe 15 minutes). Use tongs or an eggflip to gently flip them over. Cook on the other side til cooked (another 10-15 minutes?). I find that if I have time the best way to give them an even crispiness is to turn off the grill and leave them in the hot grill area with the door closed for a while (15 min?). Eat warm. They can be kept overnight in the fridge or frozen and reheated in the oven.

On the stereo:
Live at the Teatro Juvarra Torino, 25 September 2004: Current 93


  1. Thank you for informing me about this issue, of which I was previously unaware. Such a wonderful resource you've created for varied, nutritious dishes all of one color! Incredible! Your tofu burgers are so pretty - I love the bright orange!

  2. I hate blue food! It's a totally unnatural food colour, probably why you can't think of any blue meals...

  3. You put so much thought into your post and it contains so much valuable information. Thank you so much for taking the time to join in.

  4. This is the kind of blog event that makes me wish I was home already, so that I could participate and help spread awareness. It's wonderful that you took the time to compile this list - hopefully it will help someone out there who may be feeling a bit lost and at their wit's end.

    Ona more lighthearted note - dear heavens I love Worcestershire sauce. Before my travels, I was adding it to every stir-fry sauce I made :D

  5. I found it rather tricky to get creative with one color. I love how wild a child's "picky" can get.
    Really good info on this one.

  6. Thanks Astra - always glad to raise some awareness and create more resources

    Thanks Lisa - I could only think of Bridget Jones blue string soup and blue smarties - which I was once told were poisonous (ie the smarties not the string). It didn't make much of a list :-)

    Thanks Neil - hope it might be helpful to someone - thanks for all your information

    Thanks Hannah - enjoy your travels - I am sure you will have lots of time to raise awareness and be involved in blog events when you return home - and to scoff worcestershire sauce :-)

    Thanks Tanna - Being creative with one colour is tricky but if you manage it, it does feel like a great achievement!

  7. I've heard of this through friends with children--it must be a nightmare for the parents of the autistic kids! But your lists will be very helpful, I have no doubt. And the tofu burgers (and that corn!) look delicious.

  8. Tofu carrot burgers! Yum. I wish I could just come up with stuff like that off the top of my head. =)


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