By Cal Orey
|Graze with Mediterranean Cheese Plates|
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If you haven’t heard by now, listen up. Your health—mind, body, and spirit—may depend on it. Chances are, you like me, already have superfoods in your kitchen fridge, cupboards, and on the counter tops. I’m talking about whole foods—good, clean, edible fare—most processed junk with ingredients you can’t pronounce or define.
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The verdict is in, and it has been evident since the ancient caveman and hunter-gatherer days. Eating a whole foods, natural, plant-based diet is the path to good health and well-being. The best superfoods can and do vary, but despite controversy between the food of the week in the media and scientific nutritional studies backing them, superfoods are functional foods—not a gimmick to sell products or a brand despite what some medical doctors believe. Yes, superfoods are real food with super nutrients that provide super healing powers.
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1 CHEESE: Cheese can be upgraded into superfood status by using the right kind and right amount and pairing it with whole-grain bread, nuts, and berries. Grilled cheese sandwiches were common kid food in the twentieth century, and they were budget friendly during the Great Depression. But some nutritionists do not believe cheese—any kind—deserves to be included on the healthiest-foods list, let along tagged a superfood, because of its high fat and high sodium content.
“Cheese is a ‘good’ food!” I find myself saying. Cheese is a super source of calcium, which is good for calming your nervous system and for your teeth and bones. Past medical research shows that people who get an adequate amount of calcium by eating a moderate amount of dairy, which includes cheese, may be likely to keep their blood pressure numbers in check—lowering their risk of heart disease and stroke.
2 GREEK YOGURT: The popularity of yogurt grew in the 1950s and 1960s, but it made it mark at health food stores. In twenty-first-century supermarkets, there are an array of brands and types of yogurt, including low-fat and fat-free varieties. But it’s Greek yogurt that is gaining popularity—and for good reason.
|Homemade Granola with Greek Yogurt|
Like cheese, Greek yogurt and regular yogurt are superfoods—and taste great drizzled with raw honey or mixed with fresh fruit. In moderation, this dairy staple is touted for its heart-healthy powers, bone-boosting merits, and immune-enhancing perks thanks to its probiotics. Plain Greek yogurt is also rich in the mineral potassium. Both calcium and potassium may help you keep your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers in check.
3 MAPLE SYRUP: By the 1900s, maple syrup was used throughout the United States, mostly as a topping for pancakes and waffles. These days, maple syrup is pair with other superfoods, such as homemade granola, all-natural ice cream, whole grain oatmeal, smoothies, and sweet potatoes.
|Antioxidant-rich Maple Syrup, |
egg-y whole-grain bread, berries
While honey is touted as one of nature’s top superfood sweeteners, premium antioxidant-rich maple syrup is getting more recognition for its nutritional benefits. One-fourth cup of premium maple syrup contains fewer calories than high-fructose syrup, corn syrup, or brown sugar. It boasts more calcium, manganese, magnesium, potassium, riboflavin and zine than most sweeteners. And maple syrup has more disease-fighting antioxidants than raw cabbage—also a superfood.
4 PIZZA (with Toppings): Food historians will share with you that in Naples during the 1700s and 1800s, pizza was a food popular with money-challenged folks. The food was called “flat breads,” and it had toppings such as cheese and tomatoes—two superfoods on the top 20 list.
|Greek Pizza--Thin Whole-Grain Crust,|
Feta Cheese--Moderation! Scientists give a
thumbs up to sauce
5 POTATOES (RUSSET/SWEET): As the story goes, the first potato reached Spain in the sixteenth century. Back in 1578, Sir Francis Drake introduced potatoes in his around-the-word adventures. Later, in 1662, it is believed that the British Royal Society sponsored growing potatoes, and by the early 1700s, potatoes were embraced by people in the United States.
|Sweet Potatoes are a Superfood!|
So now you’re in the know about which superfoods are super for you—whether you live on the West Coast, East Coast, Midwest, or in the Deep South. Despite changes to Earth due to man’s tampering and nature’s wrath, we still can enjoy nature’s healthiest foods. But sometimes you have to go the extra mile to get the real deal.
Garden of Apples
During one harvest season time in California, I envisioned going to an out-of-town far in Placerville to pick apples (another superfood) off trees. I had images of meeting a friendly farmer who’d take us on a tractor followed by a couple of herding dogs. The autumn sunshine would warm us up while we carried baskets to fill with big, fresh apples. We’d climb on stools and pick nature’s finest fruit. Excited about the rural experience awaiting us, we drove down the winding road, off the hill, there was a glitch.
|Organic Apples Are Best|
Disappointed I drove back up to the hill. I ended up at our local grocery store and picked up a bag of organic apples at a good price. Later, I discovered I wasn’t the only one who had endured such a wild ride at the apple haven. I was told by the apple organization that it had been a busy harvest time and we had come late in the season. There were farms, though, that did offer apple picking, but I had missed the apple boat. So my fantasy remains in my imagination until next year. Nowadays, it’s places like Apple hill, farmers’ markets, and supermarkets that all do sell organic produce and superfoods for you to enjoy.
Adapted from The Healing Powers of Superfoods: A Complete Guide To Nature’s Favorite
Functional Foods by Cal Orey (Kensington Books, Citadel, 2019). All rights reserved.