Grain-free cookery expert Lisa Fuchs explores the unsung heroes of the superfood world and uses some of them to whip up an unforgettable dessert.
You might have heard about something called superfood and wondered is this just a marketing trick or is there actually anything to it?
An online English dictionary explains the word as: “a food that is considered to be very good for your health and that may even help some medical conditions”. Although some might dismiss the use of this new branding as a way of making money it can actually guide you towards making good choices.
Generally most superfoods are vegetables, fruits and berries. We should all eat as much as possible of them on a daily basis.
There are however a few, more unusual, superfoods that I find very interesting and valuable simply because they can be used to replace other, less beneficial, foods that we know we should avoid. In my view this is a double benefit: you can enjoy delicious treats and boost your body with health at the same time.
The list of benefits is long when it comes to honey. It’s a natural sweetener for baking and cooking, that is antibacterial, antifungal, probiotic and is even said to help reduce cancer risk.
Replaces: Sugar – one of our biggest health hazards.
My absolute favourite fat is not just delicious but also counts as one of those healthy fats that will actually benefit us when eating it. It is supposed to be good for weightloss, digestion, immunity and even help to lower the risk for heart disease. Coconut oil also has plenty of uses in the bathroom. Combine with salt to make a body scrub, or combine with baking soda for an excellent teeth whitener.
Replaces: Unhealthy vegetable oils like soybean, corn or sunflower oils when cooking. Can also replace butter on a Vegan diet or if lactose intolerant.
A great source of healthy omega-3 fats, fibre, and magnesium, chia seeds also contain a whole bunch of antioxidants. These tiny seeds have a stabilising effect on your blood sugar levels and are high in calcium and phosphorus, which is good for your bones and teeth. You can add chia seeds to everything and anything, but most commonly is the use in muesli, smoothies and desserts. You can also easily make “jam”, adding chia seeds to mashed berries and leaving it to swell for about an hour to get the right texture.
Replaces: Eggs to some extent if egg intolerant, and flours and grains in some ways.
It has been called one of the most powerful plant foods on earth, this little seed that is thought to help prevent certain cancers (breast cancer, prostate cancer and colon cancer). There is also some evidence that flax seeds will help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
Replaces: To some extent, normal flours when ground. Also used as egg replacement by Vegans or people with egg-intolerances.
The Latin name “Theobroma cacao” translates as “food of the gods”, which kind of says it all. Cacao (or cocoa) is a natural antidepressant, full of antioxidants and high in magnesium. But who really cares? The vast majority of us chocoholics are happy to add cocoa to almost anything.
Replaces: Sweets. Eating sun dried pulp covered raw cocoa beans finally got rid of my chocolate cravings. You can find this natural, unprocessed, snack, on our twice-weekly farmers’ market in Luxembourg town.
And now, as it happens, I actually have a dessert recipe that combines all five of these super foods!
In a big bowl mix the following:
500 ml coconut milk
2 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. coconut oil
5 tbsp. chia seeds
2 tbsp. ground flax seeds
5 tbsp. cocoa powder
Use a whisk to stir every now and then for the next 20 minutes. The chia seeds will swell and the ground flax seeds will thicken. Once the texture is getting more solid, divide between four glasses, small bowls or jars. Place in the fridge to cool down for at least another half hour. Serve with whipped cream, fresh fruit or berries – or, as pictured, with dried strawberries.
Enjoy regularly, with a good conscience!
This post first appeared in the Luxembourg Wort English – luxtimes.lu