seems like every year brings with it a new crop of designer foods and odd ingredients chefs around the world expect us to embrace. While previous years seem to have focused on many wild and exotic foods, most of which had very little to do with healthy eating, 2014 is shaping up to be the year in which we see a number of healthy ingredients begin to slip back into mainstream dishes around the world. One thing that might strike you as unusual is that our ancestors were very familiar with many of these ingredients long before they become trendy.
Quinoa Once a staple dish of ancient Mayans, quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is considered to be very high in nutritional value. In fact the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations decided that 2012 was to be listed as the International Year of Quinoa. While quinoa can be used in cooking in many of the same ways as grains such as wheat and rice, it is not actually a grain rather it is the seeds from the plant that are used. When compared on a nutritional level to white rice, quinoa contains approximately twice the amount of protein and has very high levels of lysine (an amino acid used by the body to fuel tissue growth and aid in damage repair) and magnesium. Among the other elements found in quinoa are high levels of iron, manganese, and phosphorus, as well as copper. Quinoa comes in several colors including white and red, which are the most popular colors. Quinoa can be cooked in much the same manner as rice and used in a wide variety of dishes.
Chia Seeds Most of us remember the 80′s when ceramic heads and figurines were being sold on television along with packages of chia seeds. The idea was to coat the figurines with a paste containing the chia seeds and watch them grow. What we did not know then was that these seeds are not only edible, but they are extremely nutritious. You can sprinkle them over your salad, a bowl of your favorite cereal, mix them in sauces, dressings, and add them to almost any dish you can imagine. These tiny seeds are loaded with fiber, protein, antioxidants, carbs, and Omega 3 fatty acids. One more advantage chia seeds have to offer is that they expand in your stomach, helping you to feel fuller and in doing so reducing your intake. They are available in most health food stores and can now be found as an ingredient in many ready to eat foods and drinks.