Superfood Swap! Discover Your New Favorite
When it comes to superfoods, we’re pretty much equal opportunity eaters over here—we love kale, goji berries and chia seeds with comparable gusto. But one of the best and most exciting parts about being on the cutting edge of the food world is that trends are always changing: new ingredients migrate from foreign lands and scientific research reveals the supercharged nutritional properties of all sorts of mysterious comestibles.
So, in honor of Create, Discover + Inspire month, we’re taking you on a little culinary adventure to expand your palate and pamper your body. We hope you use this list to discover something new, and that you’re then inspired to create something healthy, delicious and body-loving. And please, share your favorite under-the-radar superfoods in the comments!
If you like QUINOA, try KANIWA
Consider this ancient grain quinoa’s hip little sister. Cultivated in the Andes of Peru and Bolivia, kaniwa is similar to quinoa in many ways—it’s gluten-free, quick-cooking and full of protein. But it upstages its relative in the iron department, as well as, arguably, flavor—unlike quinoa, which can have a bitter, soapy taste if it isn’t thoroughly rinsed, kaniwa is free of saponins, the compounds responsible for that unpleasant flavor. Want to explore more grain up-and-comers? Try teff or amaranth.
If you like STEVIA, try LUCUMA
The Andean region is apparently where it’s at when it comes to superfoods. Lucuma, considered “the gold of the Incas” by native Peruvians (and, fun fact, a favorite ice cream flavor in Peru!), originates in this mountainous region, but you can expect to start seeing it closer to home more often, albeit in a different form. When dried at low temperatures (to retain its nutrients, which include potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, niacin and Vitamin C) and milled into a fine powder, lucuma has promise as a low-G.I. sweetener. It’s also got healing, energizing and anti-inflammatory effects. When cooking and baking, lucuma can be subbed for sugar in a 2:1 tablespoon ratio.
If you like SPINACH, try TATSOI
This glorious green not only looks like spinach, but shares its soft texture, subtle flavor and tremendous versatility. Whether you steam, sauté or eat it raw in a salad, you’ll get a helping of calcium, potassium and iron. In fact, you may have already tried tatsoi without even knowing it—it’s included in some pre-packaged salad blends. (Of course, you’ll also find it in Sakara’s Forbidden Rice Tatsoi Bowl...ahead of the curve, folks.)
If you like COCONUT FLOUR, try BANANA FLOUR
Think bananas aren’t good for anything until they’re ripe? Think again—and consider your gluten-free baking game officially upped. Banana flour is made from green bananas, and when used raw, it has a subtle fruit flavor (great for adding some heft to your smoothies) but when baked into your favorite recipes, it’s neutral and earthy, with a light texture that’s not gummy or gritty. The most important lesson banana flour has to teach us is about resistant starch. It’s a carb that basically behaves like fiber—instead of being digested quickly and causing a blood sugar spike, it’s broken down slowly, thereby easing digestion, regulating blood sugar and keeping you full longer. Though it originally gained popularity in Jamaica and parts of Africa as an inexpensive alternative to wheat flours, research suggests we may soon see banana flour popping up in some new places, from bread and other baked goods to pasta.
If you like HEMP PROTEIN, try MORINGA
In parts of Asia and Africa, moringa is nothing new, and it has developed quite a reputation—around the world, it’s referred to as the “tree of life,” the “miracle tree” and the “never die tree”—but this multifaceted, drought-resistant plant is gaining traction as a superfood. A popular healing ingredient in Ayurvedic medicine that has even been used to purify contaminated water, moringa has nine essential amino acids, plus a hefty serving of antioxidants, fiber, iron, potassium, calcium and Vitamin C. Add some to your smoothie for a clean protein boost.
If you like ARUGULA, try DANDELION GREENS
Love arugula’s peppery flavor? Definitely give dandelion greens a try. (You might even have some growing in your backyard! We call that eating hyper-local.) In addition to potassium, antioxidants and Vitamins A and C, the glycoside taraxacin, which gives these leaves their somewhat bitter flavor, stimulates digestion. Dandelion is also a natural diuretic.
If you like COCONUT OIL, try GHEE
This isn’t the first time we’ve sung the praises of ghee around these parts. And is it any wonder? Ghee is considered sacred in the yogic diet (it comes from cows, after all, which Hindus regard as the most holy animal), renowned for its balancing effect and positive energetic vibrations. And when it comes to cooking, ghee has a higher smoke point than coconut oil, making it more versatile.
But let’s get down to its nutritional brass tacks: this clarified butter has no lactose or milk protein, so it’s a go for those avoiding dairy. It may smell like butter, but truly, it's dairy free. A super-high-quality fat, ghee is rich in in Vitamins A and C as well as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), so it’s good for weight management, heart health and skin nourishment. It’s also anti-inflammatory, promotes insulin resistance and may even fight cancer. Go ghee go!