Black Food is the New Green + My Trip to Venice
Many foods are believed to prevent cancer, of these, the emerging newbie is black food. Mother Earth’s found a fun way to tell us the different nutrients in our food – they’re colour co-ordinated! It’s been an age-old nag for us to eat our green foods, which amps up the production of toxin-clearing enzymes that may help avoid cancer. Black food intensifies the goodness by possibly having more health benefits than other coloured foods, as it has more minerals, isoflavones, and antioxidants. This means it can strengthen the organs to relieve allergies and respiratory problems, and it builds the immune system which may assist cancer prevention and support the body’s response to chemotherapy.
So how do we get this fancy health talk into our tummies? Here’s 5 black foods you can get around Sydney:
Black garlic is the older counterpart of normal garlic, where its been aged to have twice the antioxidants of regular garlic. Don’t be scared by its boldness though! Its flavour is sweet and described as reminiscent of molasses. All you have to do is replace garlic with black garlic in your dishes, easy as pie.
Chia seeds, the seeds of the chia plant, have been named a brilliant superfood, and it definitely deserves this pedestal. Its good for the heart and brain with 20% Omega 3 ALA – that’s eight times more than salmon! It also has three times more iron than spinach, five times more calcium than milk, and seven times more vitamin C than oranges. What’s more, it has practically no taste, so all you need is a tablespoon a day sprinkled over your favourite meal and you’ve boosted your health potential.
Black lentils legumes loaded with cholesterol-lowering fibre, which helps manage blood-sugar levels and prevents it from rising rapidly after meals. They’re also chock-full of B-vitamins, minerals, and protein – all virtually fat free! They even comes in at only 230 calories per cooked cup of lentils, which is tiny considering how much it fills you up. They have a chewy texture, making them perfect in salads, stews and soups.
Blackberries, the cousin of raspberries, contain polyphenols which may help reduce cognitive decline in older age by clearing up the cells that are bad for the brain. Eat them straight, toss them into a drink, throw them into your favourite dessert – the only limit is your imagination.
All burgers are good burgers, and they’re even better when they have a bit of a health twist! Former Astral and SMH Chef of the Year Sean Connolly and Fraser Short have introduced black burgers at their Parlour Burger. The quirky Black Widow is enclosed with a charcoal brioche bun made with ‘vegetable carbon‘, which is said to draw toxins and bad gases from the body.
I jumped on the black food bandwagon on my trip to Venice by trying their specialty: Squid Ink Pasta. Sail with me to experience my journey to black food in Italy.
The day began with a beautiful sun rising as we embarked on our boat to Venice. The smell of the sea breeze blew in our hair as the city of Venice grew closer and closer.
We arrived at the dock of the floating city to see numerous canals of bridge over water. One of these was the famous Ponte dei Sospin, the Bridge of Sighs, so called as prisoners would be confined here the day before their sentence to sigh at the freedom they might lose. The only known escapee of this bridge was the famous Latin-lover Casanova, with the help of a monk.
Despite its history, local legend says that eternal love and bliss will be granted to lovers who kiss on a gondola at sunset under the Bridge of Sighs to the bells of Campanile di San Marco, St Mark’s Campanile.
What’s a trip to Venice without a ride on their famous gondolas? We slipped in a ride before our black food lunch, and found ourselves streaming through the waterways to the song of our gondolier. The smell of the sea never leaves but only grows stronger to the gentle rocking of the waves.
So much excitement had our tummies rumbling, as we made our way to the final destination: Spaghetti al Nero, Squid Ink Pasta. The squid ink pasta was plated boldly, with a smooth sheen of black covering every strand. It tastes of the alluring flavour of umami, with a sensation reminiscent of black truffle to round out the dish and give it some body. Eaten between bouts of song and feeding frenzies from waiter to feaster, the fun and friendly Italian culture brings another element to the meal.
Sydney-siders can enjoy a little taste of Venice at Pendolino and Popolo, where the ink is saved from the cuttlefish sacs to create a hearty Italian dish with a bit of black healthiness. Did anyone spot the difference? Don’t worry, you’re not cheating! Cuttlefish ink gives the same flavour and is sometimes preferred, even in Italy, as a replacement for the more famous squid ink. Some deem cuttlefish ink more suitable for pasta and risotto dishes due to its more mellow and velvety texture.
Black food is undoubtedly healthy, but whether it will prevent cancer is something only time and research will tell. To play your part in curing cancer, hop on over to the POSH Chelsea Flower Show on Saturday 22nd March, 2014. Run by the Cancer Council, this is a gala ball with auctions where full proceeds go to cancer research, advocacy, and support programs for people with cancer and their families.