Kale chips and goji berries are so last year; 2016 is upon us and new superfoods are being introduced to our paletes.
Super-powered ingredients are especially important for vegetarians, vegans, and anyone on a restricted diet. Everyone needs a certain amount of vitamins, minerals, protein, and just overall goodness on their plate. Below, I run through five vegan-friendly superfoods – and provide some tasty recipes for each – that will ensure you’re getting the necessary nutrients even if animal products aren’t on your menu.
But there is a twist, not only do these recipes include superfood ingredients, but they’re also sustainable! That’s called a win/win for us and Mother Earth.
Actually, there’s a second twist! Because this is SportsBettingDime.com and we put odds on everything under the sun, I’ve ranked these sustainable vegan superfoods based on their chances of becoming the next superfood of the year! (Yes, such proclamations exist.) I suppose that isn’t much of a twist given the title of the article. Deal with it; I’m not M. Night freakin’ Shyamalan.
I digress. Onto the superfoods!
Odds to be the Next Superfood of the Year
Black Cumin Seed: 3/1
For centuries, the black cumin seed (Nigella sativa) herb and oil have been a regular ingredient in Asian, Middle Eastern, Eastern European, and African cooking due to all of its health benefits. In fact, archaeologists even confirmed King Tut kept a bottle of black cumin seed oil in his tomb – for use in the afterlife. (Sorry, it doesn’t make you immortal, but the Prophet Muhammad called it “a remedy for every illness except death.”)
This tiny seed is highly aromatic and spicy, but it also helps restore the the body’s vital organs and strengthens its natural defenses. Traditionally, it has been used to bolster vitality, aid digestion, and provide respiratory, kidney, liver, inflammatory, and circulatory support. It also goes great in your green smoothie. Below is smoothie recipe that looks rather tasty. Recipe courtesy of RealSimple.com.
Black Cumin Green Smoothie
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 2 cups stemmed and chopped kale or spinach
- 1 1/2 cups chopped pineapple (about 1/4 medium pineapple)
- 1 ripe banana, chopped
- 1 pinch of black cumin
Combine the coconut milk, ½ cup water, kale, pineapple, and banana in a blender and puree until smooth (about 1 minute), adding more water to reach the desired consistency.
Although this grain has been around for a while now, it’s growing in popularity as a superfood ingredient, especially for people who are gluten-free. This Ethiopian grain is not only a key ingredient in injera bread, but you can also boil it like rice, bake it, and use it in granola bars or pancakes. However, I found a better use. How about tasty teff burgers? Recipe from Bob’s Red Mill.
Makes about six patties
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 3 scallions, finely chopped
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon thyme, ground
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup whole grain teff
Cooking Directions: Place sesame oil, teff, water, thyme, garlic, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir once or twice toward the end of the cooking process. Spread cooked teff in a shallow pan to cool. When cooled, add scallions and form six equally portioned patties.
Heat a nonstick, lightly oiled skillet and fry until browned on both sides; top with cheese; turn heat off and allow cheese to melt slightly. Assemble burgers with lettuce, tomato, and whole wheat buns. Each patty contains 150 calories, five grams of fat, and four grams of protein.
Green Beans: 4/1
Your parents told you to eat your green beans, and it wasn’t because they wanted you to suffer, it was because they’re chock full of fibre, folate, and the minerals magnesium and potassium. I’m still trying to figure out if they do indeed put hair on your chest.
Green beans, string beans, haricots verts, runner beans, French beans, snap beans: whatever you want to call them, the fact is, they’re fantastic for your cardiovascular health. Just one cup of beans is only 44 calories but also provides nearly one-fifth of your daily needs of antioxidant vitamins A and C. That same cup also gives you a nice kick of vitamin K. So it’s time to embrace the bean.
Green Beans with Lemon and Garlic
- 2 pounds green beans, ends trimmed
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Blanch green beans in a large stock pot of well salted boiling water until bright green in color and tender crisp, roughly two minutes. Drain and shock in a bowl of ice water to stop from cooking.
Heat a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and the butter. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the beans and continue to saute until coated in the butter and heated through (about five minutes). Add lemon zest and season with salt and pepper.
Never heard of Matcha? It’s basically green tea on steroids! Models at New York Fashion Week were seen doing matcha shots instead of Red Bull, and many coffee drinkers are ditching java in favor of the matcha powder. It’s one of those trends that will pick up steam in 2016 because it not only gives you a shot of energy, but it helps burn fat, fights cancer, and reverses cellular damage.
People use it to both boost their exercise performance and as a nice pick-me-up at work (which avoids the caffeine crash you get with coffee). Matcha green tea has 137-times more antioxidants than regular green tea, but it’s also great to have cold on a nice spring or summer day. Since we’re heading for warmer temps, I’ve picked an iced recipe for you to try. Recipe from Love & Lemons.
Matcha mint iced tea
- 2 cups filtered water
- 2 teaspoons Aiya cooking-grade Matcha
- 2 cups crushed ice
- 1 lime, sliced
- handful of mint
- optional: honey or cane sugar (or minty simple syrup, see note below)
Side Note – Minty Simple Syrup: Heat one-part white sugar and one-part water in a small saucepan, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Turn off the heat and drop in a handful of mint; let steep until it cools to room temperature. Strain out the mint and chill until ready to use.
For those of you who love kale and other dark greens, you’ll appreciate seaweed’s nutritional profile. There are different types of seaweed – like nori, wake and kelp – which are all great sources of antioxidants, iodine, calcium, and many other nutrients. Seaweed also boasts anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. You already love it wrapped around your sushi – or eaten like potato chips – so why not try it in a new format? Below is a refreshing and healthy salad you can prepare. Recipe from Food.com.
- 3⁄4 ounce dried wakame seaweed (whole or cut)
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar (unseasoned)
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
- 1⁄2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1⁄4 cup shredded carrot
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
Cooking Directions: Soak seaweed in warm water (five minutes). Drain, rinse, then squeeze out excess water. If wakame is uncut, cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips.
Stir together vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, pepper flakes, ginger, and garlic in a bowl until sugar is dissolved. Add the seaweed, scallions, carrots, and cilantro, tossing to combine. Sprinkle salad with sesame seeds.
Yup, you read the correctly. Believe it or not, bugs are a delicacy in a lot of places and are becoming more popular with chefs in North America. When prepared properly, they are a great way to boost your energy with high-quality, low-fat protein. Not only are they good for you, they’re a low-cost alternative to animal protein and are much easier on the environment. Some insects are as much as 80-percent protein by weight and provide more essential amino acids than most animal proteins. They are also rich in nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and insect protein is easily digested.
But I understand that straight-up bugs might not be everyone’s cup of (matcha mint iced) tea. So try them in a cookie first!
Chocolate Chirpie Chip Cookies
- 2 1/4 cup flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 2 eggs
- 12 ounces chocolate chips
- 1 cup chopped nuts
- 1/2 cup dry-roasted crickets
Preheat oven to 375. In small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In large bowl, combine butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla; mix until creamy. Beat in eggs. Gradually add flour mixture and insects, mixing well. Stir in chocolate chips. Use rounded measuring teaspoon to drop cookies onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
(Photo Credit: IntoConnection (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jv1LL7VgK5E).)