The Benefits of Superfoods
The term “superfood” has long been used to identify what we like to think of as nature’s multi-taskers – nutrient-rich, full of vitamins and minerals, antioxidants and low in calories. These plant-based foods (as well as some select fish and dairy products) offer up supportive benefits that are vital for improving your health, boosting the immune system, promoting great gut health as well as brain health. To see what we are serving up for healthy eating, visit our menu here. As we continue to stay healthy at home for ourselves, our families and communities during this time, we felt like this is a fitting time to talk about “food as medicine”, by incorporating these plant-based wonders into our diets.
Our Top 5 Superfoods
Here are our favorite, go-to choices that we can’t help but reach for when we’re shopping at health food stores:
There are many types of seaweed out there that you can try; nori is likely the one you’re most familiar with. No matter which one you pick, it’s going to provide a lot of benefits. Seaweed contains essential micronutrients, including iron, calcium, and magnesium, all of which are important for improving your health.
Its nutrient-rich features ensure that you’re adding vitamins such as vitamins A and B12, as well as vital minerals. The best way to incorporate seaweed into your diet? Use it as a seasoning on salads or in soups when you’re looking for a salty, briny crunch.
These tart and tiny berries have become increasingly popular in the wellness world because of the power they pack in helping to increase fiber intake, and for providing essential vitamins for a healthy immune system, such as vitamin C. Goji berries are readily available at grocery and health food stores. They can be eaten dry in your trail mix or morning cereal, and added to your favorite blended juice. If you’re not sure how to incorporate this superfood into your diet, try out this peach and goji berry smoothie with almond milk, or a vegan double chocolate oatmeal and add some berries for a sweet, yet, tart breakfast treat.
A growing favorite in the wellness world, Buckwheat pasta is one of the best “superfoods” available for various nutrients. It’s a source of protein, manganese (promoting bone health, wound healing and glucose metabolism), thiamin (or B1 - the key to energy, metabolism and cell growth) as well as soluble fiber.
The most popular option tends to be Japanese soba noodles. We’ve been working up some new plant-based recipes in our kitchen for buckwheat pasta that work as lunch or dinner – here’s a sneak peek at one of our go-tos:
What you’ll need:
- 4 Cups Vegetable Stock
- 3-4 oz Dry Buckwheat Pasta
- 4 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 2 Medium Onions, Diced
- 4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
- 1 Tsp Paprika
- 1 Tsp Ground Turmeric
- 1 Tsp Ground Cumin
- 1 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
- 1 Tsp Salt to Taste
- 2 - 14 oz Cans of Chickpeas, Drained
- 2 Cups Canned or Frozen Corn Kernels
- 1½ Cups Roasted Unsalted Peanuts, Rough Chop
What to do:
- In a pot, bring vegetable stock to a rapid boil over medium high heat. Add the buckwheat pasta and 1 tsp salt and use tongs to spread out. Cook for 2½ minutes.
- Immediately drain and transfer to a bowl with cold water to stop the cooking. Once cooled, drain and transfer to dry.
- Meanwhile, in a sauté pan, add olive oil, onion, and garlic. Sauté until aromatic, 2-3 minutes. Add paprika, turmeric, cumin, and pepper and cook with the onions, about 5 minutes.
- Add the corn and chickpeas, cook 4-5 minutes more. Turn off the heat. Add to a bowl or plate of pasta.
- Season and serve garnished with roasted peanuts.
A gluten-free option, sorghum is an ancient cereal grain that can be ground and used as a flour substitute (don’t forget your cornstarch!). Sorghum is a plant-based wonder that can be popped like popcorn, cooked down like risotto or used as a syrup to sweeten your favorite desserts. Fast becoming a staple of the wellness world, sorghum is packed with protein, iron, and B vitamins, to improve your metabolism, skin, hair, and nails.
Rich in probiotic bacteria, folate, potassium and calcium, there is no doubt that fermented foods are great for improving your immune system and promoting a healthy gut biome. Originating from Korea, kimchi is made of fermented vegetables including cabbage and radishes. There are many different variations out there that include other vegetables, like onions, carrots and cucumber, so find your favorite by grabbing a few jars and doing your own taste test at home. You can add kimchi to any dish throughout the day (great with eggs, top off a grain bowl, add to a tomato-based sauce), or you can enjoy the salty, spicy funk on its own!
You’ve got our top five, but we’ve also rounded up some other options that are incredibly tasty, easy to find and beneficial to your health:
Dark chocolate always makes it on our grocery list because it is a pure, guilt-free indulgence! One of the best wellness options for dessert, dark chocolate is nutrient-rich. It contains essential antioxidants and prompts healthy hearts and weight loss. Plus, it’s super yummy to snack on!
Full of fiber and healthy carbs that will give you energy throughout the day, sweet potatoes are always a good idea. Sweet potatoes have become a staple because they are the ultimate healthy alternative to the beloved potato, they are versatile and provide health benefits that come along with their essential vitamins, such as vitamins A and C.
Rich in taste and history, pomegranates are one of the world’s most ancient, delicious and architecturally gorgeous fruits on our list. Among the healthiest fruits on Earth, they contain a range of beneficial plant compounds, unrivaled by other foods.
Studies have shown that they may have several benefits for the body, helping to promote cancer prevention, heart health, skin hydration, and for their anti-inflammatory properties. Their ruby red seeds can be eaten straight, or added to salads, sides and mains whenever a sweet/tart pop is in order. You could also make homemade pomegranate juice for a nutrient-rich refreshing treat that will help improve your health!
These are just some of our favorite superfoods that are changing our palates and shaping the future of wellness. By no means exhaustive, think of this list as the beginning of a long love affair with the discovery of new flavors and a healthier lifestyle.
Post Contributor: Myra Nizami