Super Food or super fad? You decide!

by Sam Bilton on January 20, 2014 4 comments

I’ve been rather lax at blogging recently, being somewhat preoccupied with my day job as Food & Drink Editor for Sussex Style magazine. I’m not complaining because I enjoy what I do immensely (and it pays which is becoming an increasing rarity in the field of food writing). I am however acutely aware that I have neglected my blog a fact which I am hoping to remedy.

For the February issue of the magazine I have been looking into the super foods touted for 2014. Most of the time these are food items we are familiar with but have failed to latch onto their nutritional benefits. That is until some kind scientist points out what we have been missing all our lives (remember the fanfare for the humble beetroot ?). So what nutritional delights await us this year?

My first offering is chia seeds. A relative of mint these tiny seeds are native to Mexico and Guatamala and are believed to have been an important food crop for the Aztecs. So why are people raving about them? They have excellent credentials in the nutrition stakes being rich in healthy omega-3 fats and fibre and packed with minerals like manganese, phosphorous and calcium. They don’t taste of much but this means you can add them to a variety of recipes, like bread, without any adverse affect on the flavour. There have been studies which suggest eating chia seeds regularly can help lower blood glucose levels for type 2 diabetes sufferers. You can read more about the benefits of chia seeds in this article.

My chia, sunflower & pumpkin seed sourdough

My chia, sunflower & pumpkin seed sourdough

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My next offering is golden berries (sometimes know as Inca berries). In their fresh state you would recognise them as physalis or cape gooseberries often used to garnish dessert plates in restaurants. In their dried state they have an intense sweet and sour flavour which I love (but I can see why they wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea). They are rich in vitamin A, potassium and fibre. They’re also a good source of the B-complex vitamins (which are known to boost the metabolism) and it is thought they can aid weight loss (although presumably only as part of a calorie controlled diet). If you live in Sussex look out for Inca Berries covered in raw chocolate from Raw Goodies. They’re absolutely divine.

If someone could find the cure all food or combination of ingredients for every ailment or disease know to afflict the human race they would be very rich indeed. The main benefit of super foods for me is that they perhaps introduce us to (or reacquaint us with) ingredients we may never have tasted or used before. With this in mind I thought the easiest way to combine these ‘super foods’ with other heroic ingredients would be in granola. I’ve also included brazil nuts (rich in selenium) and quinoa (one of Gwyneth’s favourite super foods, so it must be good, right?) for extra crunch along with some coconut oil (so last year, I know…) to enhance the nutty flavour. Will a bowl of this granola fill you with the urge to don a pair of pants over your (or your missus’) tights and equip you with the ability to fly? I very much doubt it but it’s still delicious.

You should be able to find all of these ingredients at a health food store (like Infinity Foods or Holland & Barratt).

Super Food Granola with Chia & Goldenberries

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Ingredients

  • 150g rolled oats
  • 150g spelt flakes
  • 75g red quinoa
  • 50g chia seeds or sesame seeds
  • 25g pumpkin seeds
  • 25g sunflower seeds
  • 100g brazil nuts, roughly chopped
  • 50g flaked almonds
  • 75g date syrup (you could use honey, maple syrup or agave nectar instead)
  • 50g honey (runny or crystalised)
  • 3tbsp coconut oil or veg oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
  • 75g golden berries (or any other dried fruit that takes you fancy)
  • 100g raisins

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 150℃.
  2. Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, except for the fruit.
  3. Place the date syrup, honey and coconut oil in a small sauce pan. Heat gently until the coconut oil has melted and there are no crystals left from the honey. Do not allow it to boil. Stir in the vanilla paste or extract. (If you’ve used vegetable oil and runny honey there should be no need to heat the syrup mix).
  4. Pour the syrup mixture over the dry ingredients and mix until everything coated. Line one large baking sheet or two smaller ones with baking parchment or a silicone liner. Spoon the granola onto the baking sheet(s) ensuring it is in an even layer (which should not be too thick). Bake for 35 – 40 minutes stirring every 10 minutes or so to ensure none of the mixture catches. The date syrup will mean this granola has a darker hue than commercial varieties. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the tray before transferring to an air tight jar. Delicious with a berry compote and natural yoghurt.

Makes enough to fill a 1.5l kilner jar.

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Sam BiltonSuper Food or super fad? You decide!

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4 comments

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  • Choclette - January 22, 2014 reply

    Chia seeds I know about, but it’s interesting to hear about the properties of physalis. We grow ground cherries which are very similar, so hopefully they are equally as good.

    I’m afraid I’m very cynical about superfoods as one very big and lucretive marketing gimmic. Not that they aren’t good for us, but that they are probably no better for us than many other fresh fruit or veg.

    You’re job sounds fantastic. Congratulations.

    admin - January 30, 2014 reply

    Thank you!

  • annemaxfield@gmail.com - January 22, 2014 reply

    I’m going to look for golden berries for my next batch of granola. I love them fresh and hope I can find them across the pond. If I add chia seeds, it may just be too trendy 🙂

    admin - January 22, 2014 reply

    You can never be too trendy! Besides there will be more super foods along soon as there is every year! 🙂

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