As I’ve said before, summer is the season of superfoods, they spring up like mushrooms, a superfood of course, all over the place. You do need to curb your enthusiasm just a little though, because sometimes the health benefits are not always as clear or as dramatic as is sometimes claimed. Have a look at the NHS website, that should help you keep your feet on the ground. I’m not saying that superfoods are a waste of time or that they have no health benefits, far from it, there’s growing medical evidence to suggest that certain foods can nourish and strengthen your body. What is surprising is that some of these superfoods are the foodstuffs you’d least expect, in fact some of them sound downright unhealthy.
Perhaps most well known as a key ingredient in that culinary delight, the Ulster Fry, fried eggs, fried bread, fried tomatoes, fried mushrooms, sausages, preferably fried, fried bacon, you get the idea. This tube of dried pork blood, pork fat and oatmeal hardly sounds like a health food and yet removed from the context of a fry up and relocated to a healthier environment, perhaps paired with scallops, this tasty traditional sausage packs a healthy punch. Full of protein, potassium, calcium and magnesium it’s also rich in iron and zinc and practically carb free.
Cooking Tip: Choose your pudding carefully though because there’s quite a difference in the fat content of different brands.
It’s an unsettling thought that all those brightly coloured jellies so beloved of children’s parties are only made possible using a substance created by boiling up the skin, tendons and bones of cows or pigs. What’s perhaps even more surprising is that eating jelly is good for you. Gelatin is high in protein and amino acids and promotes gut health. If you’re a vegan, the good news is that the gelatin substitute, agar agar, which is made from several kinds of seaweed, is also good for you. It’s a good source of calcium and iron and is high in fibre. It contains no sugar, no fat, no carbohydrates and aids digestion and weight loss.
Cooking Tip: If using agar agar, please note that certain fruits and ingredients do not allow the jelly to set. Some of these include kiwi, mango and pineapple.
Poor people used to beg bones from the butcher, not so they could give their dogs a treat but so that they could boil them up with a few vegetables to feed their family. It turns out that their family were probably getting a much more nutritious meal than the rich folks across town. Slow cooked animal bones release the collagen and nutrients from the bone marrow, particularly chondroitin and glucosamine which are good for healing joints and digestive health. A bone broth is also rich in amino acids and minerals, helps you fight inflammation and lowers cholesterol.
Cooking Tip: You can use the leftover bones from a roast dinner to make a delicious bone broth, and bulk it out with any other leftovers such as roast potatoes, gravy and vegetables.
This superfood is a common ingredient of so many Chinese dishes. So, the next time you order from hungryhouse there’s no need to feel guilty about your Friday evening takeaway. Bok choy contains over seventy antioxidants and is being investigated as a possible means of cancer prevention. It has an extraordinary number of health benefits: it improves bone health and acts as an anti-inflammatory, it decreases blood pressure and boosts your immunity and by boosting your collagen it even makes your skin look good.
Cooking Tip: Although bok choy is most associated with Chinese cooking, because of its similarity to spinach, it also works well served with most meat and fish dishes. Simply adapt the seasoning to suit the cuisine. If serving with salmon, try seasoning with some butter, lemon juice and black pepper.