You’ve already incorporated kale and quinoa into your cooking repertoire, but you’re going to see some new ingredients popping up on menus and grocery shelves this year. If you’re looking to make a move toward a healthier diet, try cooking with one of these five superfoods, sure to make a splash in 2014.
Seaweed. You love sushi and that’s partly thanks to the unique flavour of the seaweed wrapped around your rolls. So you may be happy to hear that seaweed is gaining ground as a healthy snack and ingredient. It boasts vitamin A and C, calcium and iodine (which isn’t found in many foods). Add it in small amounts to top your noodles or snack on roasted pieces of it, but be careful with consuming too much of it—too much iodine or potassium (certain types of seaweed are high in potassium) can have side effects; it’s always smart to talk to your doctor or dietitian about any changes or concerns when it comes to your diet.
Bee pollen. It doesn’t sound like something you should be eating but this grainy looking food contains 22 amino acids, vitamin B12, antioxidants and protein (which women often don’t get enough of in their diets). And the good news is that it’s easy to incorporate into your foods—pop some into your blender with your smoothies or add it to your yogurt toppings.
Nutritional yeast. While the name of this superfood is not appetizing in the least, this powdery yellow food makes up for it by being a tasty nutritional powerhouse. It’s high in protein, folic acid and vitamin B12. As for how it tastes, it’s a bit nutty and cheesy in flavour, and slightly sweet. You can add it to your meals by including some in your sauces, or in eggs or to top salads, popcorn or even pasta dishes.
Kimchi. Fermented foods are growing in popularity and that includes kimchi. This Korean fermented cabbage dish was found to decrease cholesterol levels when eaten daily in large amounts, in a 2013 study conducted by researchers at Pusan National University in Korea. It’s high in fibre, vitamin C, antioxidants and beta carotene. You can use it as an accompaniment to spice up any dish that needs an extra kick—eggs, noodles, rice. Experiment!
Canary seeds. Make room beside your package of hemp seeds in your cupboard because there’s a new super seed in town. Canary seeds (they need to be de-hulled for human consumption) are gluten-free (making them a great option for the growing numbers of people with Celiac and gluten sensitivities). When dehulled, canary seeds can be ground into flour, making them a great option for gluten-free baking. In terms of nutritional benefits, a study published in 2013 in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that this seed in particular is higher in protein than other seeds.
Karen Kwan is a Toronto-based freelance writer. She covers health, beauty and travel for Canada’s top women’s magazines and websites. On her blog www.healthandswellness.com she writes about fitness, travel, food and beauty, and in her spare time this avid runner trains for marathons.