Friday, 4 January 2013

2013 health kick foods

It happens every year. December hits. Christmas and end of year drinks start rolling through and before you know it, it's early January, you've put on a few kgs or you feel like you body could just do with a bit of a break. Damn those northern hemisphere people and their ability to blame it on too many woolen layers - it's beach season in these here parts.

The Friday Delicious is realistic: You're probably not going to detox in any full on capacity, so rather than talking juice fasting, here are a few health foods you've probably been hearing about lately, that you can easily integrate into your diet, for a slightly more virtuous start to the new year.

Quinoa (pron.: /ˈkiːnwɑː/or 'keen-wah')

A grain originating from the Andes region of South America, quinoa is fast becoming a popular health food staple because of the fact that it makes a fantastic gluten free starch alternative for wheat-based carbs like pasta, bread or cous cous (read: It fills you up, without making you feel as bloated). It's nutty, grainy and works well in salads, topped with bolognaise sauce instead of pasta, and if you buy it as flakes, you can cook it like porridge or polenta. It's also a a high source of grain protein, antioxidants and magnesium, amino acids and iron.

What else? Quinoa grains are tiny and unfurl a little 'germ' or tail when you boil them. They come in a variety of different colours, including red, white and black. Give them a good rinse before you cook them - it' stops the grains tasting slightly bitter, due to saponins, which naturally occur on the outside of the grain.

Where can I buy it? Most supermarket health food aisles now stock it, as well as any decent health food store.

Green juice

A fresh juice is always a winner when you're feeling a bit average, however fruit-only juices are often super high in (albeit natural) sugar, which means if you don't burn it off, it'll sit in your body and eventually become fat. Green juices are a fantastic way of getting a bigger serve of greens in your diet, and while some juices do take out the pulp, it's still a solid way of getting raw nutrients into your body (unless you fancy having a bunch of spinach, a handful of kale, 2 sticks of celery and half a lettuce before 8am).

Lots of juice bars and health food stores will have their own concoctions, but here's a great combination to ask for, or to make at home:

A fistful of spinach leaves
3 or 4 decent sized broccoli florets
1 big celery stick (leaves and all)
1/2 cucumber
A thumb sized piece of ginger
The juice of 1/4 of a lemon
1/2 a green apple or pear

Blend all the ingredients together and #suckitdown. You can turn this into a smoothie by blending the juice with 1/2 cup of almond milk, adding a tablespoon of chia seeds and a teaspoon of honey.

Coconut water

Growing up in a Singaporean household, coconut water is no new fad - we grew up with our parents hacking open coconuts for us: drink the water and then scoop out the sweet coconut flesh on the interior (particularly delicious on a hot day when the coconut has been chilling in the fridge). So why has coconut water become such a 'thing'? Let's start with the science: It contains a high level of electrolytes (sodium, magnesium, calcium, potassium, phosphorus) that are naturally found in the body, so when you're dehydrated or have been exercising, it's more useful (and lower in sugar) than a sports drink. It's also fat free, naturally sweet and higher in potassium (essential for brain and nerve function) than a banana.

There are a whole load of brands out there selling relatively untampered coconut water, which makes it super convenient when you're on the go, but for my money, nothing beats a chilled coconut, a meat cleaver to hack it open (be careful!), a straw, and a spoon to scoop out the good stuff when you're done.