There are differences of opinion about the term ‘superfood’, and the list of superfoods can get wild, wacky and arguably unrealistic. So in the interests of being balanced, let’s say that superfoods are, broadly speaking, foods with high nutritional value that contribute significantly to your well being. Nutritionists recommend a healthy diet incorporating a variety of superfoods and say it will help you maintain your weight and fight disease. Every superfood will be a ‘real’ (unprocessed) food.
Here is a list of just some of the superfoods, to give you a rough idea: Avacado, Beans, Blueberries, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cinnamon, Figs, Flax Seed, Miso, Oats, Oranges, Oregano, Pumpkin, Quinoa, Salmon, Sardines, Soya, Spinach, Tea (green or black), Tomatoes, Turkey, Walnuts and Yoghurt.
When I hear ‘superfood’, I immediately think ‘chocolate’. Simply because it is super. To my surprise, I found that dark chocolate is a superfood due to its high antioxidant levels. It’s also high in flavonoids, substances that have been shown to improve blood flow, suppress coughs, improve memory, and give you hydrated, smooth skin. Enough said!
All credit goes to Popeye, the sailor who made it tempting to eat spinach! Kids (including my brother and myself) voluntarily ate spinach because they wanted to be as strong as him. Mothers were certainly not complaining!
Scientists found out that Popeye was right; spinach does boost your muscles, proving to be an amazing super food! “It is like a fuel additive for your muscles – it makes them run much more smoothly and efficiently,” said the lead author Dr Eddie Weitzberg of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.
North Indians have used spinach for years in a traditional vegetarian dish called Palak Paneer, which consists of fresh spinach and ricotta or Indian farmer’s cheese cubes in a thick, smooth and creamy curry. This dish is served with basmati rice, naan or roti. Not only is it super easy to make, it is rich in nutrients such as protein and iron making it super healthy too!
• 3 bunches of fresh spinach
• 200g of Paneer (Ricotta or Indian farmer’s
cheese) cut up into small cubes
• 2 medium onions, sliced
• 6-7 tbsp of oil
• 1 piece of medium sized ginger, minced
• 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
• 2 tsp Garam Masala (curry powder)
• 1 tsp Cumin Powder
• 1 tsp Coriander Powder
• ½ tsp Turmeric Powder
• Red chilli powder – to taste
• Salt – to taste
• 6 tbsp whipping cream or yogurt
1. Fry cubes of paneer in 2-4 tbsp of oil until they reach golden brown in colour.
2. Chop the spinach into smaller pieces and steam it in a large container with plenty of water for 5-7 minutes. Strain off the water and blend the spinach with a spatula.
3. Heat about 3 tbsp of oil on medium flame and add onions, ginger and garlic and let it cook for about 4-5 minutes.
4. Add cumin powder, coriander powder, garam masala, turmeric powder, red chilli and salt. Keep stirring until the mixture starts to look dark brownish.
5. Add in the mashed spinach and mix well. Wait 2-3 minutes and add an appropriate amount of whipping cream to achieve the desired consistency of the curry.
6. Cook for 4-5 minutes and add the fried paneer cubes.
7. Mix well and serve hot!
Blueberry and Raspberry Lime Drizzle Cake
A moist, fruity, tangy cake with a superfood contained.
• 225g softened butter, plus extra for greasing
• 225g golden caster sugar
• 4 medium eggs
• 2 limes, grated zest and juice
• 250g self-raising flour, sifted with a pinch of salt, plus extra flour
• 25g ground almonds
• 100g of blueberries and 100g raspberries
For the syrup
• 8 tbsp lime juice (about 4 limes)
• Zest of 1 lime
• 140g golden caster sugar
1. Heat the oven to 180°c. Line the base and sides of a 20cm/8in square cake tin (not loose-based) with greaseproof paper and butter the paper.
2. Cream the butter and sugar together until light. Gradually beat in the eggs, adding a little flour towards the end to prevent curdling. Beat in the lime zest, then fold in the flour and almonds. Fold in about 3 tablespoons of the lime juice so you have a good dropping consistency (the mixture should drop easily from the spoon when tapped). Gently fold in three quarters of the blueberries and raspberries and turn into the prepared tin. Smooth the surface, then scatter the remaining fruit on top – it will sink as the cake rises.
3. Bake for about 1 hour (cover with foil if it starts to brown too much), or until firm in the centre. A skewer pushed into the centre should be clean when removed.
4. While it bakes make the syrup – Put the lime juice, zest and sugar in a small saucepan over a gentle heat and stir, without allowing it to bubble. The sugar should dissolve a little. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, prick all over with a skewer then spoon the syrup over it. Keep your hands off it (if you can!) and leave it to cool completely before wrapping in paper and/or foil.
Green Quinoa Salad
Quinoa is a grain which, unlike wheat or rice, is a complete protein containing all 8 essential amino acids. It has been recognised by the United Nations as a “super crop” for its health benefits – packed with dietary fibre, phosphorus, magnesium and iron. It is also gluten-free and easy to digest. It’s easily available in most supermarkets and health food shops.
I recently had lunch with my aunt in Belfast, and she served up a version of this Quinoa Salad which is packed with a variety of superfoods. We had it with a green salad, smoked salmon fillets and prawns – It would go really well with grilled meats as well.
Serves 2 – just multiply the quantities for greater numbers
• 50g quinoa
• 4 spring onions, finely chopped
• 1 small avocado, diced
• 1 lemon, juiced
• 1 tsp ground cumin
• 100g frozen edamame (soy) beans
• 100g frozen peas
• ½ small bunch mint, chopped
• ½ small bunch parsley, chopped
• ¼ cucumber, diced
• Olive oil
Cook the quinoa by following pack instructions, drain and rinse under cold water, then drain completely. Put the onion and avocado in a bowl with the lemon juice and cumin. Season with salt. Blanch the edamame and peas for 2 minutes, drain and rinse. Add to the bowl. Tip in the rest of the ingredients with the quinoa. Toss everything together.
Kanika Aggarwal has a diploma in Indian Cooking and offers classes in Indian Cuisine in Greater Toronto Area. Through her cooking classes she teaches women the secrets of using Indian spices and techniques to cook all their (or their families’) Indian restaurant favorites. Get in touch with her through her website http://learnindiancooking.com to schedule a cooking class with her soon!
Clara McQuaid is a confirmed baker and foodie and has been writing for SISTERS for many years.