Superfood. The term has become a regular part of our health dialogue without really having to overthink it much. Why? Because it sounds like what it means —food that is REALLY good for you. It seems like the term first hit the mainstream in 1990 with the introduction of SuperFoods: Nutrient-Dense Foods to Help Protect Your Health co-authored by Michael Van Straten and Barbara Griggs.
Consumers became obsessed with the food-as-medicine take when it was already becoming clear that our fast-food and processed food habits were damaging our health. We also look for ways to describe things in the simplest terms — Superfood is a strong example. Some have criticized the term as a mere marketing tool. Perhaps it is. But now it is part of our lexicon and a commonly used and accepted reference by most experts, researchers and dietitians. This is how we define nutrient-dense foods that pack an exceptionally powerful punch when it comes to improved health or better health outcomes.
In Superfoods 24/7, vegan cook and foodie Jessica Nadel describes superfoods as “whole, plant-based foods, real foods, that are thought to have additional health-supporting properties.” These foods also tend to be “rare” or not what you’d normally shop the aisles for on a regular trip to the market after running out of milk, eggs, or toilet paper.
2017 was the year of açaí bowls, Hawaiian poke bowls, Bulletproof Coffee, and pretty much everything matcha. For 2018, experts, behemoth food markets (like Whole Foods), and top food and nutrition editors in-the-know have already forecasted what we’ll be fixated on for our next major health boost. Here are 4 standouts:
You can find moringa in capsules, powders, and tea. It yields a bunch of antioxidant plant compounds, along with vitamin C and beta-carotene. (FYI, foods rich in “compounds” are also a key characteristic when it comes to superfood classification.) Experts say Moringa benefits include reducing blood pressure and balancing blood sugar levels and hormones, along with anti-aging effects, improved digestion, brain health and putting you in a better mood.
First of all, they make your food look hella yummy and beautiful. And according to sustainablebabysteps.com “chives, signet marigolds, nasturtiums, portulaca, purslanes, and roses” are full bloom with vitamin C. Pretty weeds like dandelion flowers also have vitamin C and A. Other literal “Edible Arrangements” include borage and zucchini blossoms, hibiscus, lavender, pansies, roses, sage flowers, and violets.
Native to India and Sri Lanka the jack tree is big on vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, fiber, healthy fat, protein and the very buzzy “phytonutrients.” Phytonutrients are natural chemicals that actually protect plants from insects, fungus, germs and other yucky threats. The thought is that this protective element makes jackfruit all-the-more healthy for us humans.
It is also known as Turmeric Milk and made by heating it up and throwing in sweeteners and spices using either cow’s milk, almond milk or other vegan options. Turmeric tends to be a revolving “it” superfood. This is the 2018 “discovery.” Its anti-inflammatory benefits seem never-ending: a tough cough/cold and respiratory infection remedy and a solid fix for easing digestion and reducing belly bloat. It also might work as an anti-depressant!
Though the trends shift from year-to-year, interest in superfoods never gets old. For a superfood boost to your diet try this Brussels Sprout Latkes With Tofu “Sour Cream” recipe from Jessica Nadel’s Superfoods 24/7. I tried it and it was surprisingly delicious. Its magic ingredient? Chia eggs — which you can make from scratch to include in the recipe in place of chicken eggs.
BRUSSELS SPROUT LATKES WITH TOFU “SOUR CREAM”
Serves 4-6, gluten-free ♦ Prep: 15 mins ♦ Cook: 15 mins
Here’s one of several Brussels sprout recipes in the book that promise to make fans of skeptics. So much phytochemical goodness is hiding in these crispy little patties! For a gluten-free option, use a gluten-free flour in place of all-purpose flour.
2 cups (180 g) shredded Brussels sprouts
½ onion, thinly sliced
1 medium potato, grated
2 chia eggs (see below)
¼ cup (30 g) all-purpose flour
pinch of paprika
fresh chives, chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a little oil, for frying
For the Tofu “Sour Cream”
1 x 12 oz (350 g) package firm silken tofu
2 tablespoons umeboshi vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon water
½ tablespoon chopped fresh dill
¼ teaspoon sea salt
Directions For the Chia Eggs:
To make one chia egg, mix 1 tablespoon of whole or ground chia seed with 3 tablespoons of water and let it sit for 5 minutes. The mixture will gel and become a bit gloopy, like a raw egg. Stir again and the “egg” is ready for use. It’s best used in baked goods.
1. In a medium bowl, mix together the Brussels sprouts, onion, and potato. Add the chia eggs and toss to combine.
2. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, paprika, and a little sea salt and pepper. Sprinkle this over the vegetable mixture and fold in to create a thick batter.
3. Heat a little oil in a cast-iron skillet over high heat. Scoop out 1.4 cup (60 ml) of batter and place in the oil, flattening it with the back of a spatula. Repeat with three more scoops to fill the pan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until golden brown, then flip and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes until the underside is also golden brown. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels and then repeat with the remaining batter. If not serving immediately, keep warm in the oven at 250°F (120°C).
4. For the tofu “sour cream”, place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Alternatively, a hand-held immersion blender can be used. Any leftover cream can be stored for up to five days in the fridge.
5. To serve, top the latkes with a dollop of cream and a sprinkle of chives.
Calories (per serving): 129
Protein: 7.5 g
Total fat: 5.9 g
Saturated fat: 1.0 g
Carbohydrates: 14.3 g
Dietary fiber: 3.4 g
Sugars: 1.6 g
Recipe from Superfoods 24/7: More than 100 Easy and Inspired Recipes to Enjoy the World’s Most Nutritious Foods at Every Meal, Every Day © Quantum Publishing, 2015. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment.
Photo Credit: iStock/Linda Vostrovska