Healthy Cook: A superfood a day keeps the doctor away

Down on the plate … it’s a bird … it’s a grain … it’s s-u-p-e-r-food!

Superfoods are popping up like mushrooms in a cow pasture. Some are touted to be the next cure for ingrown toenails and the chewable elixir for terminal hangover. News of these is often accompanied by a free offer and the notice, “Just pay shipping and handling.”

For information you can rely on, and there is plenty online, look to websites with authority. WebMD is a favorite. It has credentials, good information, and recipes. Google search “Mayo Clinic superfoods” and you get a list of 10 foods that, although not called “super,” are super healthy. It includes information of why each is great for you. Delve deeper into the site and you find what you’re looking for.

The bad news is that there are bushels of so-called superfoods out there. The good news is that many sites back the same things. In the end, it’s you who has to make up a list based on your own research … with a little help from these reliable sources. The more difficult part might be finding ways to use the miracle ingredients. Here are a few to get you started.

QUINOA is the darling of the day. It’s an ancient grain used in South America. The small round seeds have no gluten, a plus in today’s gluten-free society. Read the label on the box or bag. Quinoa comes in a couple of colors and textures. Think of it as protein-rich rice with a different accent.

The easiest way to prepare it: Twice as much water as quinoa. Bring it to a boil. Boil five minutes. Take off the heat and let it stand 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed and the grain is soft. You can cook it in stock and add vegetables.

DARK CHOCOLATE is right up there and you just have to nibble.

CAULIFLOWER is giving kale a run for the healthy roses. There is so much you can do with it. Break a head into florets and boil until tender. The little flowers can be mashed, spiced, and served like potatoes.

Make a curry sauce — like a white sauce but thinner — with fried onions and curry powder to taste. Add the cooked cauliflower and let it simmer a bit to meld the curry with the cauliflower. Add hard-cooked eggs and serve with rice or quinoa.

Toss some in spaghetti sauce. Cook it like home fries. Make a cauliflower quiche. Done without a crust it’s almost a frittata. Betchya didn’t know you could make a frittata.

DANDELION GREENS make some lists, but we can pretty much ignore them here in Central Florida.

BLACK RICE, according to The Whole Grains Council, is supposed to have as much of the antioxidant anthocyanins as you find in blueberries. Personally, I have cooked and eaten black rice, and blueberries are much better.

SPROUTS have been appreciated in the Orient for centuries. Sprouting grains and legumes changes the nutrient content for the better. You can buy them in the produce aisle.

Making your own bean sprouts was big in the hippie days. It’s simple. Put a healthy handful of mung (little green) beans in water overnight. Drain and put into a gallon jug. Stretch a piece of cheesecloth over the open mouth of the jar. Store it under the kitchen sink where it’s warm. Rinse daily but leave wet. In a few days you have sprouts to add to salads or put in a stir-fry.

SWEET POTATOES (and white potatoes) are powerhouses of nutrition. We know how to cook them. The trick is not to douse them with fatty creams and cheeses.

We can’t forget KALE. It’s the darling of the day — all wrinkly and tough and unappetizing. Beat it into submission with heat or a bat and enjoy. Here’s a recipe adapted from that puts kale and quinoa together.


Yields four servings

1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 quarts water
1 bunch kale, sliced
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 large shallot minced (or half a medium onion and half a clove of garlic)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Creole seasoning or pinches thyme, oregano and celery seed

Bring chicken broth to a boil in a saucepan; stir in quinoa. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer until quinoa is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes.

Boil water in a large pot. Boil kale until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain. In the same pot, cook and stir shallot in oil until softened. Add kale, cooking and stirring, until desired doneness. Mix quinoa into vegetable mixture and season with salt and Creole seasoning.


article by TRENT ROWE, CFHN Food Editor

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