Food Network Staffer Diary: I Ate Only Orange Foods for 24 Hours
In many ways, fall is all about the color orange. Between Halloween and the endless supply of festive autumnal vegetables, you can’t turn a single corner without spotting the color.
In an attempt to fully embrace the fall spirit, I decided to eat only orange foods for one full day. When I first accepted this challenge, I feared what my body may go through. I pictured myself loading up on Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and aggressively squirting Easy Cheese into my mouth (no shame). And before my short-lived diet even started I was already resenting it. But I made a commitment, and without my good word, I was nothing. I strapped on my booties, put my big girl pants on and trekked all the way to my local grocery store to purchase the goods.
Truly, the orange options were endless: butternut squash, sweet potatoes, peppers, pumpkins, oranges,apricots, cantaloupe, carrots, peaches, persimmons, mangoes, nectarines, orange tomatoes, tangerines, Goldfish crackers, Cheez-It crackers, cheese puffs, Cheez Doodles, cheese, cheese, and a lot more cheese. The world was my oyster.
Except, of course, oysters were off the table.
I moseyed my way through each aisle, deciding to fully embrace the orange life and dive into the challenge head-on. To my surprise, locating orange food was anything but difficult. Finding the right produce to make well-balanced, home-cooked meals on the other hand was much more challenging. I definitely wasn’t in the mood to eat mostly raw vegetables for an entire day; I’m simply not interested in a lifestyle that healthy.
Eating orange was not so bad compared to some of the extremely questionable diets I’ve been subjected to during my 22 years on Earth. In the sixth grade I attempted an all-celery diet, which I told myself was a thing, but it definitely was not. I somehow made it through “breakfast” that day, had an emotional breakdown before noon, then binged on an entire box of Mallomars for lunch just to calm myself down. It’s shocking I was overweight.
Anyway, here’s how I pulled off eating only orange foods for a day.
Breakfast: Pumpkin-Flavored Yogurt
Hallelujah. Out of all pumpkin-flavored things, pumpkin yogurt is my absolute favorite. Sure, it has 23 grams of sugar per serving (roughly equivalent to six Oreos), but it totally qualifies as a “healthy” breakfast. Yes, this is me trying to justify how incredibly disgusting that is.
Despite its slightly spooky nutritional value, this was a beyond-obvious breakfast choice, considering my typical go-to is yogurt.
FYI: My favorite breakfast combo is one serving of vanilla Greek yogurt mixed with one tablespoon of peanut butter and two large, chopped strawberries. Give it a try. It will change your life.
Morning Snack: Chopped Cantaloupe
The grocery store was sold out of papaya and mango, forcing me to settle for honeydew’s semi-normal cousin, cantaloupe. It looked quite cute perched up on my desk, but in my humble opinion, cantaloupe sort of tastes like laundry detergent — not that I actually know what that tastes like.
Lunch: Oven-Roasted Pecans and Butternut Squash
The only downside to this diet was it definitely required meal prep. Typically when packing food for a Wednesday afternoon, I throw a bunch of my random leftovers in a plastic container, put a lid on it, and call it lunch. This was not an option for me today, unless I wanted a bag of carrots to be my entire meal.
Lunch was oven-roasted butternut squash and salted pecans, seasoned with salt, pepper, cinnamon and brown sugar. Butternut squash takes about 40 minutes to roast in the oven, but this recipe proved well worth the wait. It tasted like a warm hug on a rainy day. I would honestly swim in it if I could.
Afternoon Snack: Cheez-It Crackers
My healthy orange streak could last only so long. At 3 p.m., I desperately reached for the Cheez-It crackers, and as soon as the first salty, buttery cracker melted in my mouth, I knew I had made the right decision. I devoured them all in a matter of seconds before remembering I should have taken a photo of the evidence.
Dinner: Orange-Rosemary-Glazed Salmon with Roasted Sweet Potato Noodles
Brainstorming ideas for an all-orange dinner was definitely a challenge. Since I had already checked oven-roasted squash off my list, I didn’t want to roast a pumpkin and call it a day. That’s when it suddenly dawned on me: salmon.
Let me just say that this was the worst revelation I’ve ever had — and I’ll tell you why.
There was a LOT of debate regarding whether or not salmon was orange. Personally, when I picture salmon in its raw form, it seems very obviously orange. Salmon fillet: orange. Salmon sashimi: orange. Salmon roe: orange. Tuna, on the other hand: pink.
Others disagreed, and some disagreed very passionately. I conducted a very thorough survey via Snapchat in which I asked my closest friends if salmon is orange or pink. The answers I received were split 50-50.
This absurd debate actually caused a legitimate fight between me and a co-worker who insisted that salmon was pink and would not fly for this all-orange diet. Chairs were thrown. People were injured. OK, in reality, we exchanged several heated messages and then decided to “agree to disagree.” She actually freaks out if I bring the subject up now.
But come on. That piece of fish could not be more orange.
Moving on. Dinner was a pan-seared, orange-rosemary-glazed salmon with a side of roasted sweet potato noodles. Though I’m not usually a fan of citrus-based glazes, this recipe really exceeded my expectations.
And, by the way, it was orange.
Photos: iStock and Lianna Hursh