It’s time to shake off the holiday cookie crumbs and start eating healthy again. Fortunately, the new year brings a great selection of tasty, yet nutritious foods that may have flown under our radar in the past, but are now ready to make a big splash.
Food-trend watchers have named cauliflower the new kale. Cauliflower is low in calories and fat, and high in protein and fibre. It can also be prepared in many different ways — roasted, mashed, sauteed, or eaten raw. If you want to really go crazy, you can try orange cauliflower, which has 25 times more vitamin A than the white version.
2. Swiss chard: Dark greens will continue to reign in 2014. But if you’re tired of spinach and kale, consider bringing Swiss chard into the kitchen. The thick-ribbed vegetable has a slightly bitter taste but can be cooked just like other leafy green vegetables and packs the same nutritional punch. It’s high in vitamin C, iron, and calcium. Saute it with a little olive oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper for a healthy dish.
4. Mangosteen: Native to Southeast Asia and touted for being rich in antioxidants, this tropical fruit may give the acai berry a run for its money. Despite its name, the mangosteen is not related to the mango.
It has a thick reddish-purple rind and sweet, juicy white flesh on the inside. For decades, fresh mangosteen was not available in the mainland United States because they can harbor insects pests. In August 2013, mangosteens became available at 10 Whole Food stores in the Southern California area. You can tear off the rind and eat the white segments on their own or puree the fruit (including the rind) into a healthy juice.
4. Ancient grains: Thanks in part to the gluten-free craze, ancient grains like amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, and teff are making a comeback. These grains are called “ancient” because they have been around unchanged, for at least 1,000 years. (Modern-varieties of wheat and corn, for example, have been selectively bred so they are different from the older cultivated varieties).
Another old grain, called freekeh, is gaining popularity in America, although it has been enjoyed in Middle Eastern for many centuries. Because of the way it’s processed, freekeh has more fibre than rice and is also high in protein, though it’s not gluten-free.
5. Arctic char: The National Restaurant Association’s annual “What’s Hot” culinary forecast, predicts that non-traditional fish, like Arctic char, branzino, and barramundi will be edging their way onto menus this year. Arctic char is a mild, yet rich fish that’s related to salmon and trout. Because the Arctic char is mostly farmed, Seafood Watch has named it a “best choice” for the environment.
6. Kimchi: This pickled cabbage dish has long been a staple in Korea, but it’s been gaining momentum in the U.S. as part of a growing trend in fermented foods. Fermentation is the process by which bacteria converts sugar into alcohol.
Some research also shows that fermentation can be good for you. One study found that people who ate fermented kimchi for one month lost more weight and showed improvements in total cholesterol and blood pressure, compared to those who ate fresh kimchi.
7. Coconut: We’ve already heard about coconut water, but other coconut foods will be reaching mainstream consumers this year. The National Restaurant Association says that eateries will be serving up more coconut milk pancakes and a survey of dietitians predicts that coconut oil (which has no cholesterol or trans-fats) will continue to be praised for its wide-range of health benefits, including improved brain function and aiding weigh-loss.
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