The month of January is almost to an end, but there are still 11 months and 335 days left for 2014.
When it came to hot foods for 2013, kale and quinoa were certainly it. For 2014 consider incorporating some of these grocery aisle super-foods into your diet.
Kefir. The best way to describe kefir is that it is a creamy fermented dairy product which is similar in consistency to a yogurt drink. Like yogurt, it contains protein, calcium, vitamin D and probiotics. Probiotics are also super hot these days. They are good bacteria that when consumed, populate our intestines and promote good health. Consuming probiotics has been associated with a wide array of benefits as of late, including improving digestive, urinary and immune system health, reducing incidence of allergy and quite possibly aiding in weight management as well. Kefir can have a tart flavour, so if you are thinking to incorporate this into your diet try blending it with fruit for a smoothie or adding to cereal first to get used to the distinct taste.
Walnut oil. For a similar serving size, walnut oil has more omega 3 and 6 fats and less saturated fat than popular oils like olive, canola and coconut.
Omega 3 fats have many heart health benefits, including improving cholesterol, and potentially preventing blood from clotting, helping to lower the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Walnut oil can run on the expensive side, so like any oil (due to the high calorie content) try and use it sparingly. Ideal for sauces and dressings, walnut oil also can be used for sauteing and baking. It does have a low smoke point however, so it’s not recommended for cooking at high temperatures. High temperature heating can also reduce some of the antioxidants in the oil. In comparison to other nuts, walnuts boast the highest antioxidant content. Even more so than almonds.
Blood oranges. This citrus fruit has a raspberry-like flavour and looks like regular oranges on the outside, but comes with a bright purple-red flesh inside. Similar to other citrus fruits, they are great sources of vitamin C and fibre. Vitamin C is known to boost the immune system, and may even help reduce the risk of cancer. Fibre helps to promote good bowel movements, lower cholesterol and, like vitamin C, may reduce cancer risk, too.
Unlike other citrus fruits, blood oranges get their dramatic colour from a special kind of antioxidant called anthocyanins. It’s the same kind which gives blueberries their distinct colour and multiple disease fighting benefits. Try blood oranges on their own or enjoy them in a dark leafy green salad.
Wheat berries. These are the entire edible part of the wheat kernel, therefore making them a whole grain. Research has shown that people who eat whole grains may have better health, particularly less heart disease, type 2 diabetes, digestive cancers, stroke and likely healthier weights. A quarter cup of wheat berries has five grams of fibre. That’s three times more fibre than whole wheat pasta, four times more than quinoa, and six times more than wild rice. In addition a high amount of fibre, wheat berries come with many other nutrients like protein, iron, B vitamins and potassium. Wheat berries are crunchy and have a slight nutty flavour. They can be a substitute for quinoa, rice, couscous or pasta in many dishes.
Hemp seeds. a.k.a. hemp hearts, they are a complete plant based protein, meaning like meat, poultry and fish they contain all essential amino acids (the building blocks for protein). They have a slightly nutty taste, and if you like sunflower seeds or pine nuts, you’ll be sure to enjoy these as well. Hemp hearts are full of good omega 3 and 6 fats.
They are also packed with magnesium, a natural muscle relaxer known for reducing headaches, constipation and stress.
Hemp hearts contain more omegas and protein (two tablespoons have a similar protein content to a large egg) and less carbs than the same serving of chia or flax seeds. Hemp seeds can be incorporated into just about any meal. Add them to smoothies, baked goods, and sprinkle on entrees and salads.
Amanda O’Brien is a registered dietitian in St. John’s. Contact her through the website: www.recipeforhealth.ca.