We hear about “superfoods” all the time. Every year there are lists of the new superfoods we should be eating. What makes a food a superfood? Well, superfoods are foods that are thought to be packed with nutrition and really good for us. They might contain antioxidants, healthy fats or phytochemicals. They may be thought to prevent cancer, help heart disease or diabetes or give us numerous other health benefits. Sure, there is a part of it that’s trendy and some foods like chia seeds, quinoa and kale become the “big new thing” but really, as scientists study more foods, they learn new ways that some of those foods are advantageous to our health. The fun part is trying foods we may have never tried or even heard of before as well as rediscovering old favorites (dark chocolate, anyone?) and discovering new recipes we love. So let’s explore superfoods, old and new, with these recipes you should definitely try this week.
1. Ancient Grains
Remember when you didn’t even know how to pronounce quinoa, let alone how to cook it? Well, there are other ancient grains that need some attention too. With all the hybridization and genetic manipulation of wheat, people are turning to ancient forms of wheat that are still in their natural state like freekah, kamut, farro, spelt, wheat berries and bulgur. If gluten is out of the question, there is amaranth, millet, teff and buckwheat. These are all excellent sources of protein and fiber. Quinoa lovers will be excited to know there is kañiwa, also known as baby quinoa, which has even more protein that quinoa does. Try these Red Lentil and Amaranth Protein Patties with Spicy Avocado, Colorful Bulgur with Papaya and Pomegranate, Freekah Kale Salad, and Goji Millet Tabbouleh. For even more recipes, see Now that You Can Pronounce Quinoa, Try These Other Whole Grains.
2. Fermented Foods
Fermented and cultured foods are helpful to our digestive systems. They provide healthy bacteria which help protect intestinal linings and maintain a healthy balance of good microflora. Without that balance, we can have intestinal leakage and inflammation which can lead to obesity and disease. Fermented foods have lots of healthy enzymes, minerals and live cultures that help our immune systems. Which fermented foods should you eat? There are many including kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut and pickled vegetables and relishes. Kimchi is a spicy Korean version of sauerkraut. To learn more, read Kimchi: The Next Superfood and learn How to Make Kimchi at Home. Kombucha is a fermented drink made from brewed tea and sugar. Read All You Need to Know about Kombucha and How to Make It, The Easy Way to Make Your Own Kombucha, and then use it to make this Fizzy Coconut, Lime and Mint Kombucha Elixir and Gourmet Dairy-Free Cheese. Learn How to Make Raw Sauerkraut, Ayurvedic Sauerkraut, and Indian Radish Pickle as well as other foods you can pickle yourself.
Spirulina is blue-green algae that is grown in clean water. It contains so many vitamins and minerals, it is like taking a complete multivitamin. Even NASA considers it a superfood because astronauts can cultivate it in space and ensure complete nutrition. Read the Top 5 Reasons You Need More Spirulina in Your Life and then try it in this Tropical Spirulina Smoothie, Healthy Nut-Free Vegan Spirulina Sesame Bars, Super Easy Spirulina Cashew Balls and Superpower Spirulina Pie. Make this Spirulina Sprinkle that you can put on popcorn, veggies, toast or on anything you want to make healthier.
4. Dark Chocolate
Here’s a superfood no one has to tell you twice to eat. Dark chocolate, the bitter 80-90% cacao kind, is really healthy. Flavanols, which are more prevalent in dark chocolate, have antioxidant effects that reduce cell damage implicated in heart disease. Dark chocolate has been shown to lower blood pressure and improve vascular function, possibly reducing the risks of diabetes, stroke and heart attack. Of course, eat it in moderation because it still has significant calories (up to 450 calories for 3 ounces). Learn How to Make Homemade Raw Dark Chocolate and then use it to make this Dark Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Banana Blizzard, Dark Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Blondies, and Raw Peppermint Oreos Dipped in Dark Chocolate. For even more healthy, chocolatey goodness, read 10 Divine Ways to Create Delicious Dark Chocolate Desserts.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone to hear that cruciferous veggies like broccoli and Brussels sprouts are healthy but it may surprise people to learn that cauliflower is the next big superfood. Cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamin C as well as phytochemicals that help balance hormones. Cauliflower is also a great way to cut carbs since it can be used in place of rice, potatoes and even pizza crust. If you think cauliflower is bland and boring, we have lots of recipes that will change your mind. Try these Roasted Buffalo Cauliflower Bites, Potato and Cauliflower Tots, Sweet and Sour Cauliflower, Cauliflower Crisps and Tangy Tahini Dressing and Cheesy Cauliflower Popcorn. Learn all the amazing ways you can use cauliflower in Cauliflower is the New Kale. Try These Recipes!
6. Black Rice
Black rice, also known as Forbidden Rice, contains antioxidants called anthocyanins which are believed to have positive effects on heart health, memory, and inflammation as well as cancer prevention. Black rice is higher in iron and protein than other types of rice. Learn more about black rice in Black Rice: The Gluten-Free Ancient Food That Belongs on Your Plate. Enjoy its sweet flavor in dishes like this Scented and Crunchy Asian Black Rice Salad, Teriyaki Tofu Roll with Avocado, Cucumber, Potato and Black Rice, Forbidden Black Rice with Ginger and Coconut and Best Ever Forbidden Rice Salad.
7. Matcha Tea
Matcha tea is the highest grade of green tea you can buy. This Japanese tea is filled with antioxidants called catechins. It helps with endurance and concentration and is used by monks to help with meditation. It gives you energy without any of the jitteriness you can get from coffee. Learn more about how Matcha is good for your health in this informative article, Matcha Green Tea: A Superfood to Supercharge You! You can drink it as traditional tea or make this Café Style Matcha Tea Latte. It can also be used in cooking and baking. Try it in these Pistachio and Matcha Truffles, Superfood Matcha Porridge, Matcha Raspberry Bliss Balls, Matcha Green Tea Cupcakes and Passionfruit Matcha Coconut Layered Cake.
Kale, quinoa and chia seeds should always be a part of our diets but it’s also fun to try new foods that are really healthy for us. More superfoods everyone should try include coconut flour, daikon and sprouted foods. When superfoods like these are as delicious as they are good for us, it makes it even easier to make healthy choices.
Lead Image Photo: Superfood Matcha Porridge