Nutritional powerhouses you may not have heard of yet.
If you’ve read a magazine or watched TV recently, chances are you’ve heard the term “superfoods.” Many of these foods—packed with beneficial nutrients—are everyday ingredients that you may already enjoy often, such as blueberries and salmon. But there are also many exotic, unusual superfoods you may want to get to know and add to your shopping list.
What? Goji (go-gee) Berries
Why? Thought to be one of the healthiest foods on Earth, the goji berry is a small, red fruit originally from Tibet and Inner Mongolia and used by Chinese herbalists for centuries. Goji berries contain protein, which is unusual for a fruit, along with a good blend of carbohydrates, fat, and dietary fiber. Plus, they’re packed with the antioxidant vitamin C.
Where? You’ll find them dried whole, in powders, and as juice at most health- and whole-food stores and large supermarkets.
How? Use them as you would raisins, topping oatmeal, in cookies, or in your favorite salad. Add the juice or powder to teas and smoothies.
Why? Unlike landlocked veggies, seaweed is full of omega-3 fatty acids. It’s also full of important minerals: calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, iodine, and zinc.
Where? Shop online or at Asian supermarkets, health- and whole-food stores, and large supermarkets for sheets of nori or other varieties such as dulse, arame, hijiki, wakame, and kombu.
How? Layer cooked rice and sliced veggies on a sheet of nori. Then roll it up for a healthy, delicious wrap. Or use any variety—hot or cold—in soups, salads, stir-fries, and pasta dishes.
What? Kefir (keh-feer)
Why? Kefir has been called the “champagne of milk.” An ancient drink similar to yogurt, it has a sparkling texture and tangy taste. Through fermentation, it becomes rich with live bacteria and yeast and much lower in lactose. In fact, people with lactose intolerance are able to enjoy kefir. It’s rich in calcium for bone health and packed with probiotics, which are great for digestion.
Where? You should be able to find many kefir products in the refrigerated section of your local supermarkets and health-food stores.
How? Today kefir is commercially made into drinks, yogurt, frozen desserts, and cheese. Enjoy for breakfast, as a snack, or added to other dishes.
What? Black Garlic
Why? Raw garlic is fermented, giving it a sweet, mellow flavor and turning it to a distinctive black color. Only recently available in Western markets, black garlic has been prized in Asia for many years for its health benefits. Black garlic not only maintains the heart-healthy sulfuric compounds of unfermented garlic, but also develops important probiotics for digestive and immunity strength.
Where? Look for black garlic at Asian-food markets, health-food stores, and online.
How? Use black garlic just as you would unfermented garlic—in soups, dressing, sauces, dips, and the like.
What? Nutritional Yeast
Why? Nutritional yeast isn’t used for baking bread. It’s deactivated yeast usually made from sugarcane or beet molasses. This vegan product is a great source of protein, fiber, and vitamin B12, essential for brain and nervous system function.
Where? You’ll find nutritional yeast powder and flakes at health-food stores and online.
How? The taste of nutritional yeast is often described as nutty, cheesy, or creamy. It’s often used just as you would Parmesan cheese: sprinkled on pasta dishes, in a creamy sauce, mixed into mashed potatoes, or topping your bowl of popcorn.