Sunday, August 21, 2011

Purple Green Beans, Purple Potatoes

Last week at the Farmer's Market I got some new, colorful vegetables: tri-color baby potatoes (red, yellow, and purple) and some gorgeous purple green beans. Often, richer color means more nutrients in vegetables and fruits, so I try to make a rainbow on my plate. I really succeeded this time!

First, the beans.

Purple in vegetables comes from the presence of anthocyanins, which are phytochemicals that have "anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, heart healthy, anti-aging and anti-carcinogenic properties." Green beans in general are a healthy choice, and all the varieties and colors including green, yellow, and purple have a similar nutritional profile. According to, green beans are an excellent source of vitamins K, C and manganese and a very good source of vitamin A, potassium, folate, tryptophan, and iron. One cup of green beans contains 4 grams of fiber, 4.6 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, 2.36 grams of protein, 57.5 mg of calcium, and only 44 calories. They're a real nutritional bargain!

Imagine my surprise, though, when I cut my purple beans into pieces, tossed them into the pot of stew I was making, and immediately saw them start to turn green!

This change happened as soon as the beans hit the liquid and got warm. From what I have read, as soon as purple beans are heated, they turn green because heat causes the cells to burst and lose their acidity. You can read more about that here. Anyway, they tasted delicious, just like fresh green beans.

Now for the potatoes.

Aren't they pretty? I couldn't resist them. Look at the color of these beauties!

Purple potatoes are also rich in anthocyanins, just like purple green beans, but unlike the beans, they are very deeply colored all the way through. They are so inky purple that when sliced in half, the raw potatoes 'bleed' gorgeous purple ink. I am going to buy some more, slice them in half, and let my daughter use them to stamp pretty purple designs on her artwork!

Purple potatoes have a higher antioxidant level than white ones do. "Research by the USDA Agricultural Research Service found that potatoes with the darkest colors have more than four times the antioxidant potential of those currently available commercially." (source) So get to the farmer's market and buy yourself some of these great, healthy, pretty potatoes!

Potatoes of any kind are an excellent source of potassium, vitamin C, folate and iron. Baby, or "new" potatoes, are even better for you because they have a higher skin-to-flesh ratio, and much of the nutrition is found in the skin. The skin of these potatoes is so tender you won't mind eating it, even if you are not generally fond of potato skins. One cup of potato with skin contains 132 calories, at least 3 grams of fiber, and 3 grams of protein.

I had lots of fresh, local veggies on hand, so I decided to make a rainbow beef stew for dinner the other day. I used this recipe with some tweaking (1.5 pounds of grass fed beef stew meat, more veggies, subbed 2/3 of the red wine for chicken broth, less butter). I included carrots, purple and yellow beans, onions, garlic, celery, tri-color potatoes, and fresh pureed tomatoes. It turned out just lovely.

Check out the rich purple of the insides of the potatoes! These don't fade with cooking. Awesome and intriguing for children, as the purple is as bright and vivid as a Crayola crayon!

We had this for dinner with freshly baked bread and it was fantastic. Even better the second day.

Take an adventure this week and see what you can find at your local farmer's market or vegetable stand! Post your finds on your blog, if you have one. I'd love to see what you bring home to nourish yourself!

Eat your veggies, and don't forget to check out my constantly-updating Produce Guide linked at the top of my blog. Also, the Healthy Foods and Recipes Blogroll is up and running on the left side of my blog. Check it out!


Tiffany said...

Fantastic! I missed the fm due to some other obligations this week, but next week I'm putting it on the agenda. I don't go nearly as often as I should but I'm getting better about it. What interesting finds for you. Def going to be on the look out for the purple potatoes. Thanks for sharing. I'm really trying to expand my food horizon and experiment with new and different things. I made roasted beets this week and ♥ed them!

Cortney said...

Between swiss chard, chiogga beets, heirloom tomatoes, and heirloom carrots this time of year is so colorful! And I had the same experience with purple beans- I sauteed them and the purple disappeared. It bummed me out because I loved the color, haha.

beerab said...

That looks just delicious! Mind posting your exact recipe with directions so I could try it myself? Thanks if you do!sholop

Lyn said...


I will try!

I followed the recipe directions exactly, EXCEPT for the following:

1.5 pounds grass fed beef stew meat instead of 2 lbs

2 Tbsp butter instead of 3

2/3 cup red wine and subbed chicken broth for the rest (1 1/3c)

took fresh tomatoes, removed skin and seeds, chopped, drained, pureed in blender, and added 1 cup to stew instead of canned crushed tomatoes

I did not measure any of the vegetables I used. I remember I added about 2 medium onions, 3 cloves garlic, 3 stalks celery, a small bunch of carrots, maybe a cup and a half of baby potatoes, and a couple handfuls of purple and yellow beans.

I did add the beans earlier, not long after adding the potatoes, because I don't like them crunchy.

I also added a bay leaf and used crushed, dried rosemary, maybe 1 tsp or so.

Anonymous said...

That stew looks so amazing. Like something Martha Stewart made!

beerab said...

Thanks! Duh now coming back I see the link you posted!

Karen said...

When are you going to move to Tennessee and become my personal chef????

Anonymous said...

That looks delicious! Hope your headache is better


Lisa said...

I will have to try that! Thanks!

Sharilee said...

That stew looks delicious!

Anonymous said...

Looks so good. I really like the purple potatos. I am just wondering that where I live (one of the European coutries) all the cows are grass fed. What´s the other choice ? Sorry for my stupid question. Does it make difference in the taste of cow´s meat that it is grass fed ?
Love reading your blog and wish you all the best !

Lyn said...


the other option is corn fed. Most of the beef in the USA is raised on lots (not pastures) in crowded, unsanitary conditions and overfed corn based feed. The cattle become sick and weak. It is not good for the cattle. but it is cheap for mass production of meat. King Corn is a good video about this. The main issue with the meat isn't the taste, although higher quality meat does taste better to me. It is the fat. Meat raised on grass has a higher content of omega fatty acids which is healthy for humans, while corn fed beef's fat is unhealthy. There is a lot of info on the web for research on this as well. Hope that explains!

Anonymous said...

That makes sense. Thanks for yor answer !

lisa~sunshine said...

Hey Lynn.. if I were buying the lowest fatty meat possible.. that is not grain fed.. How do you think that computes for healthy eating? I'm curious because I keep going back and forth on what to do for this.. of coarse my income comes into play with this as well..
Right now I buy 96/4 ground beef, extra lean 99% ground turkey, or chicken.. I don't eat much else in meats besides this.. I also don't do any lunch meats at all and stay away from hot dogs and anything with nitrates in it.. Just curious on your thoughts.. I haven't watched that movie.. I did watch the Food Inc though..

I hope your headaches are better? I hope you can give us a post on how your weekend went and how you are doing? Thanks..

Lyn said...


it sounds like you are making great choices! It's always best to go with the leanest beef or meat one can find. I think a good principle is to not eat too much meat, choose lower fat cuts of meat, and go with the best quality you can. That said, when grass fed beef went up over $5/pound, I stopped buying it and went to grocery store (corn fed) lean beef for awhile. When the grass fed is on sale for $3.50-4 a pound, I buy several pounds and freeze them.

Lyn said...

oh... and my headaches ARE better, not gone but better and less frequent. I will post an update soon. Been busy getting ready for dock diving with my pup at the fair!

lisa~sunshine said...

I agree.. less meat is best but for some reason because of my IBS issues.. the beans just aren't working for me.. Actually I have had a lot of issues with digestion since doing a really low carb diet.. which was high in meat..
Before this.. I didn't know low carb.. high protein diets caused constipation.. now I do >>>LOL

Thanks for your thoughts on this and i"m happy your headaches are better.. Have fun with the pup.. I love seeing photos of her..

Anonymous said...

So, last year for Canadian Thanksgiving, I did a lovely prime rib roast with veg cooked around it. Now keep in mind that this was the first time I'd cooked the seriously important meal for my husband's family. Now that you know it was a fail... watch out for the coloured carrots. They turned everything an unappetizing grey colour. Not good. The rib was tasty, and if you closed your eyes everything tasted fine, it just looked AWFUL.

Next time I make lasagne

Barb (captcha is bolabif...)

Anonymous said...

Veggie soup must be in the air. Maybe people are pining for Fall or have so many extra veggies on hand - whatever the reason - I like it!
I too made minestrone style veg soup. Kidneys and dry baby limas and garbanzos for proein and then everything from the garden - carrots, potatoes, green beans (though not as pretty as yours!), various greens... I roasted most of the veggies ahead of time. I think I am going to start doing that. A little more depth of flavor without the fat from sauteing.

Anonymous said...

Also, thanks for the info on the purples. I just bought a 5 lb sack of them and am thrilled to be getting more nutritional punch for the calories.

Erin Eats Life said...

I am just checking in. When I go to your site I see a post from August 23st. Have you posted since then? Sometimes my browser gets wonky so I am checking before I panic and wonder what has happened to you. :)

Biz said...

Wow, I've never seen purple green beans before - how cool they turn green though!

Your dish looks amazing - pure comfort food!