It’s 7:05am and I have a seminar at 9:00 which I have not done all the reading for, but instead of using my ridiculously early wake up to catch up, I’m going to have a little rant about superfoods.
What is so super about kale? Yeah, it has something like 17 times the amount of vitamin C as a carrot, as well as tonnes of vitamin A and K (or so the internet says), but it’s a vegetable. Of course it has vitamins. Brussel sprouts have a similar nutritional makeup to kale, but I’ve never seen them put into the smoothie of any gym-obsessed, macro-counting Instagram guru. Likewise with quinoa – hailed for being high in protein, iron and zinc, as well as helping to manage medical conditions like heart disease and diabetes. But it doesn’t really, because all evidence for the above is based on the raw product, not the cooked one – plus the excessive consumption of quinoa has had a huge ecologically damaging effect on Bolivia due to intensive farming. As for chia seeds – we can’t even digest them properly. And they taste of nothing. And they get in your teeth. Are they even a food?
In my eyes, a ‘superfood’ shouldn’t be a tasteless, overpriced product that claims to pack more nutrients than its cheaper alternatives; it should be a food with versatility and flavour and value for money. More than anything, it should be real food (whoever decided to call spirulina, maca and wheatgrass powder ‘food’ clearly hasn’t tried eating the powders on their own. I have, and they’re all rank).
In protest of the supposed health-giving properties given to ‘superfoods’, I’ve come up with my own list of superfoods – foods that I would class as vital for life:
- Cheese. No vitamins, no minerals, no cancer-curing properties. Just bloody good melted onto everything.
- Peas. 2 minutes to cook from frozen, a savour if you discover you have no more fresh food in the house, a good snack straight from the freezer (please say that’s not just me).
- Full-fat yoghurt. Super for its ability to add thickness and creaminess to savoury dishes, to be placed in cakes to add a slight tanginess, to be served dolloped on top of cereal etc. for breakfast. The ultimate all-day food.
- Eggs. Probably one of the most versatile ingredients ever. These are the reason I will never, ever be able to pull off veganism. That and bacon.
- Bacon. Curer of the hangover.
- Avocado. One of the few foods the classic ‘superfood’ franchise got right. It’s savoury creaminess is pretty much unparalleled in the fruit/vegetable world, making it great used in salad dressings, pasta sauces and baking, as well as smushed into toast and photographed by every social media dweller ever.
- Sweet potato. Quicker than normal potatoes (I’m impatient and often hungry), and in my opinion, more flavourful.
- Beetroot. Another one they got right; the sweetness of beetroot works really well with game, blitzed into hummus or with sour cream, or combined with chocolate to add more depth to cakes and puddings. Also stains your hands pink which is fun.
- Maple syrup. Because I will happily drink it from the bottle.
- Chicken. Because when was the last time you went a whole week without something containing chicken (vegetarians obviously exempt from question).
So there is my list of foods I consider to be super, for no other reason than the fact that I’m happy when I eat them.
2 recipes coming today; the first is a baked cod fillet with garlic roasted broccoli and chilli yoghurt peas, the second is a vegetarian courgette and and broccoli pad thai. Both packed full of my personal superfoods, and both take under half an hour to cook up.
Baked Cod with Garlic Broccoli and Chilli Yoghurt Peas for 1
1 fillet of cod (I get those massive frozen packs of cod from the supermarket, v good value)
Several broccoli florets
Either a garlic clove minced and mixed in with olive oil, or a glug of garlic infused olive oil
A large handful of peas (a v large handful, I like peas)
A dollop of full-fat yoghurt (make it full-fat – half fat with split)
Half a red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. On a foil sheet, place the cod fillet and top with the chopped coriander and a slice or 2 of lemon. Season well and wrap in the foil to make a little parcel. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes from frozen, or 15 minutes fresh. In a separate dish lined with baking parchment, toss the broccoli in the garlic oil, season, and roast for as long as the cod takes.
- When you have 10 minutes left, put water on to boil. Cook the peas, drain and place back in the saucepan.
- Using a fork, roughly crush the peas and add the chilli, yoghurt, a squeeze of lemon juice, and seasoning. Place back on the heat for a few minutes to heat through, before serving, topped with the baked cod and broccoli.
Pad Thai with broccoli and courgette
1 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
1/2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1/2 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (or a liberal sprinkle of chilli flakes)
1/2 tsp honey
1 clove garlic, minced
A thumbnail of ginger, finely chopped
1 courgette, spiralled or julienned using a vegetable peeler
Broccoli florets (as many as you’ll eat)
1 spring onion, finely chopped
1 egg, beaten
Coriander and chopped toasted peanuts, to serve
- in a bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, sesame oil, tamari/soy sauce, chilli, honey and garlic. Loosen with a splash of water, and set aside.
- Heat a wok on high and drizzle with oil. Add the broccoli florets, ginger and spring onion, and sauté for a few minutes.
- Add the egg and stir until scrambled.
- Add the spiralled courgette and toss to combine.
- Add the peanut dressing and toss to combine, adding a splash more water if a little dry.
- Add a touch more of any of the sauce ingredients to adjust the taste to you liking.
- Serve in a bowl, topped with the coriander and peanuts.
Note: you can always sub the spiralled courgette for any type of noodles. I sometimes like to make it with soba or rice noodles.