It’s very easy to get caught up in the latest food craze, often at inflated prices due to increased demand.
But open your pantry and cupboard and uncover some very humble, everyday ingredients that really pack a nutritional punch.
Yes, I love kale, chlorella, goji and coconut, but often these ingredients travel a long way, and food miles is something I am mindful of. When everyone started to cotton on to the nutritional benefits of pink Himalayan salt, we flocked from everywhere to purchase the pink jewels, but what most are not aware of is the environmental, cultural and societal impact the manufacturing has had on local communities. The same can be said for our beloved quinoa. For that reason, I now use either the Murray river pink lake salt or salt from Mount Zero. I don’t eat a lot of quinoa; I think it tastes like dirt!
So, let’s look local, affordable and nutrient packed superfoods, minus the hefty price tag and moral hangover.
1. Sweet potato and potato. Often vilified for its purported high starch and carbohydrate content, these root veggies are not only cheap, but can easily be grown in your back yard or sourced from local suppliers such as Casuarina farm or Otway potatoes, but they are loaded with goodness. Think fibre, potassium, vitamin B6. Sweet potatoes also contain lots of beta carotene, giving it its rich orange colour. Beta carotene is a precursor to the production of vitamin A, vital for eye, immune and skin health. Potatoes, once cooled, also gather lots of something called resistant starch, which is a prebiotic, feeding our gut bacteria or microbiome. Mash, steam, cool and make into a salad with a lovely mayo or pesto and chopped boiled eggs and spring onions.
2. Butter. Perhaps a tad controversial, as butter has had its time in the nutritional sin bin. So, hear me out. I think we are all caught up on the whole “saturated fats do not increase cholesterol”, however, what we now understand much better, is that sugars and refined carbohydrates in excess are more of a contributing factor. As are inflammation, stress, hormones, alcohol intake and lack of physical exercise. Moving on. Good quality butter, made with good quality milk (organic, local or new Zealand dairy is the cream of the crop, as all of these are generally grass fed, not grain fed) contain excellent amounts of fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D and K2, all important for immune and bone health. It’s safe to say, hands down, margarine is my LEAST favourite food product. Google how it’s made then tell me you can still eat it. Hydrogenated oils derived from soy and corn, manufactured in a plant where those oils are turned into a solid lump with the use of sodas and acids, bleaches and a process called hydrogenation, heating the oils, damaging them.
3.Cabbage. The humble, stinky cabbage! As I write this, I am organically seeing a theme – all of these foods are things my nan would have used on a daily basis. Now my nan is a fit, spritely 80 something woman, proof is in the pudding as they say. Cabbage is not only great fermented and consumed as sauerkraut for its gut health benefits (for most!), when eaten raw or lightly cooked (preferably not boiled within an inch of its life!) being part of the cruciferous bunch, it contains naturally levels of sulphur, which is an essential nutrient for healthy liver function. Sulphur is also found in onions, garlic and broccoli. Purple cabbage gets extra points for its vibrant colour and added phytonutrients.
4. Leafy greens. So easy to grow! Silverbeet, spinach, Chinese greens such as bok choy and herbs. Liver cleansing, high in natural folate and B vitamins, greens are pretty much the perfect nutritional parcel. Green herbs such as parsley, coriander and basil are great for our kidneys and detoxification pathways. Not to mention flavour bombs. Add greens wherever you possibly can. Veggies should always be the main event, not the side dish.
Bec Winkler is a naturopath with more than 10 years’ experience. She works at the Chiropractic Centre, Jan Juc.