Is your body (and pantry) a temple to healthy eating? …maybe not all of the time!
The foodie spotlight has moved onto healthy eating in the last few years. You can see it on the shelves of the supermarket. And sales of healthy eating cookbooks have exploded – showing us that eating healthily doesn’t have to be bland. Even big name chefs, like the Hairy Bikers, are going healthy.
With all the options out there, what has been trending in 2015? Some are new. Some are ancient. Some are old classics.
These are Sporty Little Number’s top Five.
1. Coconut water
Not a new trend for 2015. Coconut water has been around for a while…but it has really gained traction in SA this year. You now find it almost anywhere – from Woollies to Dischem. Apart from being extremely tasty, its popularity stems from the fact that it has very high potassium levels (higher than bananas) and unusually high levels of fibre. This makes it an excellent ‘natural’ sports drink. You just need to choose the unsweetened and unflavoured varieties.
This little technique transforms your veggies into spaghetti-like strips. Best with marrows, squash, cucumber, carrot or celeriac, the vegetable noodles can be eaten raw or quickly steamed and covered in your favourite sauce (just like your favourite pasta dish). This adds more vegetables (a.k.a nutrients) to your diet and offers a low-carb alternative to pasta. But how do you make them? You can buy pre-prepared bags of courgettini (marrow noodles) from Woollies. Or you can get a julienne or spiralizer from most homeware stores (this one on Yuppiechef is good).
3. Fermented foods
Sauerkraut anyone? Fermentation is a classic, and has been rediscovered in 2015. Why? Fermented foods are fantastic in aiding digestion and they pack a nutritional punch. And good digestion means improved immunity and a better complexion. The downside? You need to embrace eating bacteria!
When eating fermented foods, it is better to make your own (try this sauerkraut recipe from the kitchn), because commercially made foods are pasteurised and kill the ‘friendly bacteria’. And savoury varieties are often high in sodium. If you don’t want to make your own, try incorporating these options into your diet: soy sauce (preferably low sodium), kimchi, miso or yoghurts with live cultures (but watch out for the sugar levels if you buy flavoured varieties).
Move over quinoa “keen-wah”, the new kid on the ‘grain’ block is amaranth.
An ancient grain, amaranth was a staple of ancient Central American civilisations. It has a lively nutty flavour and can be prepared and eaten just like quinoa. It has become popular because of its nutritional value – protein quantity and quality are high (thanks to high levels of lysine, which is an amino acid usually lacking in commercial grains like rice, corn and wheat), it is a rich source of magnesium and zinc, it has double the levels of iron per serving than quinoa, and it provides higher levels of vitamin B-6 than quinoa.
Quinoa is a staple in most ‘healthy’ kitchens, it is nice to have an alternative grain to add to the menu.
5. Matcha Tea
The “it beverage” at New York Fashion Week this year? Matcha shots … you can’t get more trendy than that!
Matcha, meaning “powdered tea”, is a form of green tea. When drinking traditional green tea, the leaves are infused with water and then discarded before you drink. When drinking Matcha, the whole leaf is consumed (in powdered form).
Matcha has become popular because it is high in antioxidants and contains three times more caffeine than other green teas. The energy boosting effects of Matcha can last up to six hours. And because of the effects of L-Theanine, Matcha drinkers don’t experience the usual side-effects of stimulants, like hypertension. It is a superior daily detox, because the tea is carefully grown in the shade, making it substantially richer in chlorophyll. And although it is not a magic bullet, it is believed to increase your metabolism – aiding weight and fat loss (particularly around the belly).
Matcha is versatile – prepare it traditionally with water, or enjoy it 2015-style as a latte, bake with it, put it into ice-cream or add it to your smoothie.
What other trends should you look out for as we head towards summer and 2016?
Look out for hybrid veggies at the supermarket or green grocer – the Kalette (a cross between Kale and Brussels Sprouts) or Broccoflower (a combination of Broccoli and cauliflower). These cross-breeds offer higher nutrition gram for gram than the ‘originals’.
Eating “stem-to-root” or “stem-to-peel”
How do you eat veggies and fruit circa 2015? You eat the whole lot including the bits you tend to throw away – for example, using the peel from fruit or broccoli stems and leaves. These scraps are brimming with nutrients and using every part of the vegetable or fruit is economically and environmentally friendly!
Worrying less about following the latest fad diet. Learning to cook and eat whole foods and eating like our Great Grand Parents. The benefit of this is to change the palette and nutrition for the long term, rather than cutting out a major food group in the name of weight loss and then piling it back on afterwards.