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Korean Colorful Bowl

The Korean philosophy of food is rooted in their culture, their way of life, and their religion, the gastronomy is a part of who they are. Food is based off of 5 elements: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. These elements are represented in food through color, taste, health, and emotion. It is thought that each color and element is related is a specific organ. In a very vague way that is right. Certain foods based on their color contain vitamins and minerals that are associated with working with that organ. Therefore the food makes that organ healthier. Since the Korean understanding of food is related to health I find this fascinating. 


From birth children in Korea see and taste daily what their plates should look like. Rich in color and variety. It becomes a habit and passes down from generation to generation. This recipe of my "Korean Colorful Bowl" is not a Korean recipe at all, but I wanted to translate the concept of preparing a meal with the 5 elements represented with different colorful ingredients we commonly eat and have access to in the United States. This concept of 5 elements of color is a wonderful way to learn how to make your meal more health benefitting. Each ingredient represents different nutrients, different vitamins and minerals, and therefore improves those organs. 

What do the colors represent? 


Yellow represents the element of earth, the center of the 5 elements. These foods would include: squash, sweet potato, pumpkin, soy beans, yellow cauliflower. Yellow represents aiding digestion, the stomach, and your appetite. 


You probably guessed it, red represents fire. There are a few culturally symbolic acts such as red dried peppers hang outside your house to ward off evil and eat a red bean porridge on Winter solstice to keep evil away. Red food represent the health of the heart and circulation. 

Green/ Blue

This color represents wood and blue is said to be a shade of green that is why both colors are represented. This is the color of youth. These foods strengthen the health of the liver and intestines. Foods in this category are of course green and or blue: zucchini, spinach, cucumber, scallions, and blueberries. 


We in Western cultures don't think as black as a food color, but it most certainly is. This color represents water and is a symbol of wisdom. It is believe that eating black foods helps to stabilize one's mental state. Black foods such as beans, black rice, mushrooms, and black sesame seeds are thought to help with the health of the kidney and bladder. 


The symbol of metal and represents purity and justice. White foods are associated with rice, onions, burdock root, potatoes and garlic. These foods affect the health of the lungs and are thought to prevent colds. 




Yields 2 servings

Time: 25 minutes


4 hard boiled eggs

1 cup cooked Black Quinoa 

1 cup broccoli florets - steamed

1 cup cauliflower florets - steamed 

Grape Tomatoes - halved 

2 tablespoons mustard

Olive Oil

Red Wine Vinegar 

Salt + Pepper 

Scallions to garnish (optional) 


1. Assemble the bowl with the main colorful ingredients. 

2. Whisk together the mustard, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Pour over the bowl and serve. 


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