photo by Sally Mae Meyer
These days superfood can be used to describe a whole grocery store full of food. It seems that every fresh, natural, and organic food has some healing property that we can all benefit from. Antioxidants in blueberries and acai berries, omega-3 oils in avocados and grass fed, organic beef, and vitamin C in spinach. But what about the more exotic superfoods that are touted as the best in the world? Goji berries, chia seeds, and freekah should all be on your next grocery store list. So take notes because you’re going to want to run out and get some.
Freekeh, originally found in the middle east, is a crunchy roasted wheat that is bursting with good stuff. It is harvested when it’s young so it contains more vitamins and minerals than other grains. Containing more than 4 times the fiber as brown rice, it helps combat weight loss and acts as a prebiotic to aid in digestion.
Whip It Up:
Bring 5 cups cold water and 2 cups freekeh to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 35 to 40 minutes. Chef Bradford Heap of Boulder’s SALT recommends sprinkling the grain into soups and salads or mixing it with roasted squash, sage, extra-virgin olive oil, and champagne vinegar.
Farro is a typical Egyptian grain akin to barley. It’s full of vitamins B and E, rich in magnesium, and acts as a relaxer for cramps or tight muscles.
Whip It Up:
Soak the grains overnight, and drain. Combine 2 cups water with 1 cup farro and bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer 25 to 35 minutes. For 6 to 8 servings of a hearty vegetarian dish, chef Heap mixes 2 cups cooked farro with 1/2 pound sautéed shiitake mushrooms, ¼ cup cream, and ¼ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, then simmers until thick, adding salt to taste.
Chia Seeds are considered the richest source of omega-3s and a great source of fiber too. Three grams of fiber in 1 tablespoon of this little wonder food. The seeds provide energy and stabilize your hunger cravings by absorbing several times their volume in water. At the University of Toronto, a study found that those who ate the seeds regularly were 63% less hungry than those who didn’t eat them. Research has also linked this superfood as being beneficial for cerial disease, hypoglycemia, and diabetes, while also helping to lower cholesterol.
Whip It Up:
Add moisture and nutrient value to breads and muffins by adding a few tablespoons to your recipes. Also try sprinkling raw seeds on your oatmeal or layering them into a yogurt parfait.
Acai contains anthocyanin, also found in red, blue, or purple foods. They are from the acai palm tree, a native to Central and South America.
While anti-aging properties are touted more often than proven, research does seem to lead us to think that it can inhibit cancerous cell growth and reduce the risk of heart disease. As an added bonus it is also loaded with healthy mono- and poly-saturated fatty acids.
Goji berries are the most common berry found in China, and their miracle is that they contain vast amounts of carotenoids. Celebrated for millennia in Asia, they have only just arrived at our doorstep. Some may argue that the Goji berry is the most potent superfood you can buy. These little berries offer carbohydrates, high-quality protein, healthy fat, and soluble fiber. Even more, are their antioxidants that help support our immune systems.
Yacon is sometimes coined “the apple of the earth”. It’s sweet, crunchy, and juicy for a root vegetable, and can be used as a sugar substitute for cooking and eating healthier. Yacon’s greatest attribute is its naturally high content of inulin, a complex sugar that breaks down slowly and isn’t digested by the body, so it contains about ½ the calories of your other sugar sources. It also acts as a probiotic in the body for better digestion and colon health. Eaten dry, the slices taste like apples, living up to its name.
Hemp was one of the earliest known plants to be cultivated by humans more than 12,000 years ago. And although the plant can be used for many purposes like textiles, paper, and oil for vehicle fuel, its nutritional properties are outstanding. Compact with nutrition, hemp seeds are a fantastic source of protein, they have a well balanced ratio of Omega 3s, 6s and 9s, and also offer fiber, magnesium, iron, zinc, and potassium.