This is the fourth recipe in my vegan recipe week series
There are always articles about the latest superfoods. I’m sure you’ve read them. Every so often we got told that something innocuous is now the best thing since sliced bread (which as far as I can find was never one itself). There are whole blogs (such as the superfoodblog and www.superfoodsiobhan.com) which are dedicated to showing us how to use the latest ‘superfood’ ingredients. But, what exactly is a superfood and what makes a something a superfood?
What are superfoods?
So what is a superfood? Well, to a large degree it is a marketing gimmick. It is a terms which is often used to encourage us to buy more of a particular item, such as chocolate, red wine or even black pudding! There isn’t a true or agreed upon definition of or criteria for being a ‘superfood’. It’s part of the reason why you won’t actually see bottles of red wine labeled as a superfood, no one want’s to get sued for getting something wrong or not having enough concrete evidence.
The idea of calling something a superfood, especially in January when we’re all looking to lose a little weight, is to exploit the fact that healthy lifestyle choices such as what we eat could (and that’s the key here) reduce the risk of diseases like cancer or heart disease. As a whole the food industry is trying to sell something to us a being a quick fix for many of modern life’s worries such as slowing down the ageing process, curing depression, getting us moving with more energy and even boosting memory or brain power. All bold claims.
Is the food industry being naughty?
So is the naughty food industry out to trick you into gorging on Dairy Milk, wine and fried breakfasts? Well, not exactly. A lot of people want to believe that eating a single fruit, vegetable or other food which contains a high level or this or a low level of that or has antioxidant properties will be a panacea.
Unfortunately it won’t. What will help with all those things is a healthy balanced diet, exercise and a generally healthy lifestyle. There’s no magic secret.
At the same time lots of foods (or rather various chemicals in them) have been shown to have beneficial effects on us, mind and body. Garlic is said to help reduce cholesterol and blood pressure and a Mediterranean diet can reduce the likelihood of you getting a lot of chronic diseases and increase your life expectancy.
So should we eat the latest superfoods or not? I’m not saying you shouldn’t eat whichever fruit, vegetable, grain or other food stuff is the latest superfood, just that maybe you should take any hype with a pinch of Himalayan pink salt. If it’s an article saying chocolate or wine is a superfood, you might want to stop yourself downing bottles and bars with abandon but if it says kale, garlic or and ‘ancient grain’ is de rigure then go for it, just know it might not cure everything.
Examples of Superfoods (which just might be super)
Some superfoods do have a good weight of evidence behind them for being very good for us. Here are a few which I think you can call ‘super’.
Per 100g portion kale contains 199% your RDA of vitamin A, 200% your RDA of Vitamin C and 14% your daily intake of potassium.
They are a great and tasty way to get one of your five a day, low in calories and high in nutrients including phenolic compounds with an antioxidant capacity significantly higher than vitamins C or E.
Beetroot and beetroot juice
The NHS has some great info on Beetroot and Beetroot juice. Various studies, both long and short term have advertised benefits of eating or drinking Beetroot. For exercise it can help lead to moderate increases in performance for those classed as inactive or recreationally active. It can also have a moderate effect on lowering blood pressure.
So with all that in mind I have put together a pesto recipe with ingredients which claim to be superfoods. Whether or not they will boost this or that, I don’t know. But it is a healthy meal which tastes good, and that can’t be bad!
Superfood pesto recipe
- 40g curly kale
- 10g fresh sage leaves
- 2 cloves garlic
- Juice of half a lemon
- Olive oil
- 75g bag walnuts, chopped
- 150g of your favourite pasta.
- Pop all the ingredients, save the olive oil, in a blender and pulse to form a thick paste. Gradually add olive oil till you reach your desired consistency. Some prefer a thicker pesto with chunks in it, whilst others prefer one which is more of a traditional sauce consistency.
- Boil your pasta according to the pack instructions, leave it a little more ‘al dente’ than you like it served. Reserve a cup of the cooking liquid and drain the pasta.
- Return to the pan and stir through the pesto. Use as much of the reserved pasta water as you need to loosen the sauce and get it to coat all the pasta evenly.
Serve with a nice glass of white wine, vegan if you prefer.
Check back tomorrow for the final recipe in my vegan recipe week series,