After the over indulgence of large Christmas and new year feasts washed down with turron and chocolate truffles, most of us decide its time to eat a healthy diet for a while.
We all know that in order to lead a healthy life we need to eat nutritious, wholesome food. So If you pledged to make healthier eating choices in your resolutions for the new year, picking up a few superfoods can make achieving your goals easy!
The term ‘superfood’ has become a popular buzzword in the language of food and health, but what are superfoods? Well it seems that there’s no official scientific definition of a superfood, but it’s generally accepted that superfoods contain high levels of much-needed vitamins and minerals. They can also be a source of antioxidants; substances that shield our bodies from cell damage and help prevent disease. While there are a great number of common foods that provide these nutrients, there is also an array of more exotic and less mainstream superfoods that are worth getting to know if you are feeling a little adventurous. Wheatgrass or barley grass is definitely one of them. If you believe the hype, wheatgrass has a higher nutritional content than any other vegetable, protects against inflammation, builds red blood cells and improves circulation. Wheatgrass also contains chlorophyll, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, iron, calcium and magnesium. The juice has also been used to heal wounds, shrink tumours, increase haemoglobin levels and used to treat skin conditions, although I believe none of this has ever actually been scientifically proved.
Another interesting ingredient that also claims to be a superfood is Spirulina –It’s a fresh water seaweed that helps you stay focused, nourished and energised! It’s rich in protein and helps weight loss by curbing cravings and preventing overeating. With its deep green colour, spirulina is often used as a natural colorant and it can be delicious stirred into risottos and smoothies.
It might be just about impossible that you have not heard about the benefits of Aloe Vera. Apparently it heals skin, sprained ligaments and also contains anti-bacterial properties and anti-inflammatory properties. Meaning “shining bitter substance” in Arabic, the Aloe plant has been consumed and applied topically for thousands of years but have you ever cooked with it?
The inner flesh of the leaf is where you will find the medicinal aloe that has a jelly-like consistency and is somewhat translucent in appearance. The juice has an astringent flavor that is mildly bitter with a refreshing aftertaste. Most of the bitterness can be removed by cooking the gel very slowly over a gentle flame. I have created many dishes with aloe vera combining it in deserts with wild strawberries and kefir and paring it with salt cod in one of my signature dishes with peas and lemongrass.
Other so called superfoods you might also like to try include Chia seeds that help release starch slowly, balancing blood sugar levels and Goji berries. Popular among celebs such as Madonna, goji have been used in Chinese medicine for more than 6,000 years.
These shrivelled red berries are alleged to boost the immune system and brain activity and protect against heart disease, cancer, and improve life expectancy. It’s time to kick start the New Year with some delicious smoothies and stay healthy in 2016!
PEAR, WATERCRESS & SPIRULINA SMOOTHIE
WITH KIWI & LIME
2 pears, cored
2 kiwis, peeled
1tsp spirulina powder
100g natural yoghurt
Juice of one lime
Place the pears, kiwis, watercress, spirulina powder, lime juice and yoghurt in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into glasses and serve
ALOE VERA, APPLE & CELERY SMOOTHIE
200ml aloe vera juice
1 green apple, cored & diced
2 celery sticks, peeled & diced
200g green kale leaves, chopped
Juice of one lime
Place the aloe vera juice, apple, celery, kale and the lime juice in a blender and blend until smooth.
Add a little cold mineral water, a little at a time, to achieve a smooth consistency and blend again. Pass through a fine sieve and pour into glasses and serve
STRAWBERRY, RASPBERRY & POMEGRANATE SMOOTHIE WITH GOJI BERRIES
2 tablespoons dried goji berries
150g strawberries, de-stalked
100g frozen raspberries
200g fat-free natural yoghurt
200ml pomegranate juice
In a small bowl mix the goji berries and 1 tablespoon of water, allow to set for 15 minutes to make the berries softer. Place the frozen raspberries, goji berries, strawberries, pomegranate juice and yoghurt in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into glasses and serve