We’re almost done with January friends…Are you still sticking to your new year’s resolutions? I’m not going to lie, I’m hanging on by a thread. However, there is still time. There is always time to make small changes that could potentially have big results. How do you this? Easy…superfood!
I am not a big follower of superfood trends, for me, superfoods are often ingredients that start off with a bang, get Instagrammed about a billion times and then slowly fizzle out until no one even remembers that we use to eat goji berries by the bucket load. Moreover, we always hear these buzzwords but no one ever explains how to use them. I mean what am I meant to do with cricket flour. cricket brownies? I’ve made a list of my 6 superfood choices for 2018 and added some ideas on how to incorporate them into your diet. Let’s try to start 2018 with a health kick!
Superfoods of 2018 and how to use them
If you’ve never heard of Moringa before let me introduce you. The Moringa oleifera tree is a small tree that is native to India but has the ability to grow in a vast number of climates (dry or humid). Not only is this tree able to grow quickly in challenging environments but its nutritional properties are to say the least impressive!
- Moringa is one of the few plants that contain all 9 amino acids meaning that it is a complete protein.
- It’s basically nature’s multivitamin as it contains high amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, iron and calcium along with many antioxidants, polyphenols, phenolic, flavonoids and glucosinolates. If these sound like Greek to you, don’t worry, all you need to know is that they are good for you!
- There is evidence that moringa can reduce inflammation and lower cholesterol.
How to use it?
The easiest way to incorporate it into your diet is in powdered form as the leaves are not commonly available everywhere. If you live in Hong Kong you can buy the powder here.
- Add a teaspoon of moringa powder to your morning smoothie.
- Add a teaspoon or two to soups and stews. It tastes earthy and herby so it won’t affect the flavour of your food too much.
- Bake the powder into brownies or biscuits.
2. Avocado Oil
The year 2017 saw a boom in coconut oil. We put coconut oil in everything. Muffins, smoothie bowls, pancakes if it needed oil we added a little bit of coconut. However, this year avocado oil is taking the forefront. Not a new product but definitely an overlooked ingredient. For these reasons:
- Avocado oil has a very high smoke point of 271°C (read you won’t set your kitchen on fire if you try to sear a steak) so it is ideal for frying meat or cooking veggies in a wok.
- It’s fatty acid profile. Avocado oil has a fatty acid profile of mostly monounsaturated fats (oleic and palmitoleic fatty acids). Research indicates that these are some of the healthiest fats to have in our diet in order to reduce cholesterol levels and lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Avocado oil is proven to help in the absorption of other nutrients such as fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K as well as anti-oxidants like carotenoids. This means that if you eat avo oil with your salads or roast veggies you will benefit more from their antioxidants.
How to use it?
- Roast some veggies with avocado oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper.
- Make a salad dressing: with some dijon mustard, avo oil, salt and pepper.
As an African, the next one excites me the most. Third on my list is baobab. A baobab is a huge deciduous tree native to Africa, Arabia and Australia. First of all these trees are just beautiful to look at, they are truly majestic to behold. Nonetheless, it’s the seeds that hold the superfood properties. In Africa ground up baobab seeds have long been used for their medicinal properties to treat ailments such as fevers, vitamin C deficiency and even malaria.
- Baobab has a significantly high vitamin C concentration and is widely considered one of the best sources of vitamin C in the world.
- It is high in minerals such as calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc.
- There is evidence that it might aid in weight loss and even help to detox the liver.
How to use it?
- Bake it into snacks and bars
- Mix it into no-bake energy balls and bars
- Add it to your yoghurt or smoothie.
4. Camu Camu
Say goodbye acai and hello to camu camu as your 2018 superfruit. Grown on shrubs in the rainforests of Peru, Brazil, Venezuela, and Colombia, this little fruit packs a punch and although research is limited more and more research is singing its praises.
- Once again camu camu contains all the vitamin C you need in a day which is excellent for your immune system and to fight off infections.
- It contains the amino acids valine, leucine and serine which are essential for muscle regeneration.
- There is evidence that camu camu has very good anti-oxidant properties.
How to use it?
The fruit is not available in your local supermarket but the powder is just as good!
- As it has a zesty flavour it is lovely in sparkling water.
- Add it to yoghurt or smoothies.
- Add it to your oatmeal or oat bars.
5. Maqui berries
First, the other name for this berry is the Chilean WINE berry. So there you go, enough reason to grab a few! Jokes aside, this little berry which grows in the rain forests of Brazil and Argentina is low carb, low calorie and packed full of anti-oxidants which have loads of health benefits!
- The anthocyanins as an anti-oxidant is believed to have anti-ageing properties due to the action it takes against free radicals.
- Anthocyanins also protect against heart disease and this little berry is packed full of them!
- There is some evidence that these berries might in fact boost your metabolism and aid in digestion so hey, it couldn’t hurt to try could it?
How to use it?
Wild maqui is sparsely cultivated so it is better to buy it in powder form.
- Stir it into yogurt or add it to your favourite juice.
- Add a teaspoon or two to your favourite porridge, I especially like combining it with buckwheat.
We know kombucha, we’ve loved kombucha but now it’s time for the newest hipster drink: Switchel. Made by combining apple cider vinegar, fresh ginger root, some form of sweetener either maple syrup or molasses and then cut with water (sparkling or non), this drink not only tastes good but has major health benefits especially if you’ve already hopped on the apple cider vinegar train. Just be wary of the sugar content so don’t drink buckets of it.
- The ginger gives this drinks loads of anti-inflammatory properties not to mention it tastes very refreshing.
- The acidic properties of the apple cider vinegar could potentially help your body to absorb other ingredients and nutrients.
- This drink is excellent as an electrolyte balancer especially if your recovering from flu as the ginger could also help with nausea.
How to use?
Try to make your own with this lovely recipe from Mindbodygreen, simply make and enjoy!
Ingredients that didn’t quite make my list but are definitely worth a try are
- Cricket flour
Maybe I’m a little too traditional but I’m not 100% convinced about the whole cricket flour debacle. The facts speak for themselves however. Cricket flour is high in very pure, high quality protein as well as containing multiple vitamins and minerals. This is not a new product, in fact it has been used in many native tribes because let’s face it, crickets aren’t hard to come.
Lastly, worth a mention is elderflower. Not only does it have a delicious sharp and slightly sweet flavour as well as anti-inflammatory properties but you can add it to gin which is definitely a win in my book!