Kitchen Confidant Blog

Short lessons on some ingredients....

su·per·food  

ˈso͞opərˌfo͞od  noun   plural noun: superfoods

-a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.   Example “some tout broccoli sprouts and salmon as two of the most perfect superfoods"

So that’s what this buzz word is all about...okay! Interesting, every time I hear the word someone says “Kale” and heads just nod. So what are these things called “nutrients”?

nu·tri·entˈn(y)o͞otrēənt  

 noun  plural noun: nutrients

-a substance that provides nourishment essential for growth and the maintenance of life.

aka carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and water.

Translation :

Superfoods: a variety pack of tools in edible form that our cells are psyched to have because now they can do their job!

Wondering if broccoli sprouts and salmon the only superfoods out there. NOPE!  There are many, many more, some which you have probably been eating all along and never knew!  Check out the following list of just a few and give yourself a high five for having these in your life!

 

Avocadoes

-Contains more Beta Carotene than any other fruit. (Turns into two molecules of Vitamin A once in our system).

-Contributes 60% more potassium than a banana.  Potassium (electrolyte that also helps muscle and nerve function as well as energy metabolism).

- High in dietary fiber

-High in Monosaturated Fats- the kind of fat our bodies use immediately for energy!

-Base for guacamole, fantastic in smoothies, and is the secret ingredient in my chocolate mousse, a fantastic substitute for those with allergies to eggs and dairy.

Butternut Squash

- Rich in Complex Carbohydrates- the slow, time release sugar that our cells love to work with

-High in Beta Carotene

-High in Vitamin C-  Major player in keeping our immune system in check.  Back -up quarterback for all antioxidants.

-Longer a squash grows, the sweeter it becomes

-Typically found on the table at Thanksgiving, swooned over when made into a soup and can also be used in a smoothie and tastes nothing but sweet!  Check out my Brilliant Butternut Squash Smoothie for a change of pace!

Beets

-Low in Calories – High in Simple carbohydrates but (thankfully) loaded with phytochemicals… read on!

-Beet Greens contain Beta Carotene, Calcium and Iron (carries Oxygen to our cells)- chop them up and throw them in a salad (link to recipe).  Cook with skin on to preserve the nutrients- fortunately minerals can’t be destroyed when cooked!  Cut a beet into quarters, toss with evoo, salt and pepper, wrap in aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees until it can be pierced with a fork!

Flaxseed

-High in Fiber, which supports normal functioning of the digestive tract and healthy lipids

-Omega 3 Fatty Acid ALA, supports the functioning of our hearts, helps to maintain healthy hair, skin and nails AND helps out with memory

-Significant source of lignans,(plant based chemicals) that work as antioxidants primarily in our intestinal system, fighting off radicals and keeping us going

- Grind whole flax seeds right before eating to get all of the Omega 3 Fatty Acids, if eaten whole your body treats it like fiber. Add to cereals, yogurts, baked goods and salads

Hemp Seeds        

-One of the best vegetarian sources for a complete protein, it contains all of the essential amino acids and is highly absorbable.

-Maintains an ideal balanced ratio of Omega 3s to Omega 6 fatty acids

-High in Vitamin A, Magnesium (stabilizes muscles and nerves), Zinc (speeds recovery of cuts and bruises)

-High in Iron, and if it is combined with a source of Vitamin C then it will be absorbed that much faster!

-Hemp seeds should never be cooked, always store in a cool, dry place!

Chia Seeds

-Chia Seeds have a high amount of soluble fiber – helps to lower LDL (“bad”) blood cholesterol by interfering with the absorption of cholesterol obtained through our diets

-The protein found in Chia Seeds is readily available for our bodies to absorb and use as energy

-Chia seeds are raw and gluten free

-Great source of Omega 3’s, Calcium (involved in all cell wall activities), Phosphorus (works with calcium), Potassium and Manganese (helps to maintain blood sugar).

-Yet again, another superfood to only eat at room temperature.  They can be hydrated and mixed into a drink and for the adventurous… it can be made into puddings!

DARK LEAFY GREENS

Thought you would get through this list with seeing this?  Never!

-Examples:  Mustard Greens, Collard Greens, Kale (all colors, shapes and sizes), Watercress (peppery bite,fabulous in Pho), Arugula, Dandelion Greens, Spinach, Grasses and Broccoli Sprouts!

-Although they are green due to the presence of chlorophyll (helps plants produce oxygen), they are packed with B Vitamins, Vitamin C, Beta Carotene (makes foods orange), Lutein (makes foods yellow) , Zeaxanthin (the last two together act like SPF for your eyes), Calcium and Iron, just to name a few! 

-Not many love to eat green, but they are fabulous for us. Please, eat them in whatever way necessary; steamed, raw, sauteed, in soups, pureed, baked or blended!

Had enough of the greens?   I bet… read on!

Blueberries

-All of their superfood power lies in their color!

-Flavonoids (in the skin) contribute to that deep blue-hue.  They also help to protect our neurons from oxidation from free radicals. 

-For those who are concerned about their sugar intake, they rank low on the Glycemic Index (GI).  GI is the potential impact of a food on our blood sugar level once we've consumed and digested that food.

-Blueberries picked in the height of summer can be frozen and there will be no impact on their antioxidant power.  Pick and freeze away!

Last, but not least…..

Red Peppers

-More Vitamin C than an Orange

-Another Vitamin C factoid – helps blood vessels stay strong and healthy

- Also loaded with Beta Carotene and Lycopene, the pigment which makes the red pepper (tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries, etc..) red!

-Ever eat a green pepper and not feel so great afterwards? Well, that’s because you ate an unripened red pepper!