I once cooked with Nyonya homecook Pearly Kee in Penang and she took me through her garden – a true testament and labour of love. What I learned from Pearly, is that Superfoods have been in the diets of our ancestors for as long as one can trace. If you’re a Penang Assam Laksa fan, you’d be delighted to know that the dish itself is made up of some amazing ingredients, many of which fall under the superfoods category.
Superfoods aren’t that elusive after all, and you certainly won’t need to buy imported goodness from the Andes if you’re in fact living in Asia. Go local, go to the markets and speak to the traders. Superfoods are foods with the essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, good fats, healthy enzymes and are mostly plant-based. But yes, for the omnivorous – fish like salmon, lean meats and dairy also join the fray.
1. Turmeric root or powder
Creative Commons Zero (CC0)
The turmeric root is a common sight in Asian markets. You’ll find it in curry recipes, and is bright yellow because it contains curcumin. Commonly used for ailments such as arthritis, joint or stomach pain, the spice is also used for centuries to sooth intestinal gas, loss of appetite, Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection, stomach ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), high cholesterol, skin condition lichen planus, skin inflammation from radiation treatment, and fatigue. There are side effects too, so if you have diabetes or going in for surgery, do check with your MD as “medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs) interacts with TURMERIC”. Source: WebMD
Eggs are the most efficient superfoods that offer a compact source of calcium, vitamin-D and protein. It’s one of the most inexpensive high quality protein packed with vitamin B2. The egg whites are also rich sources of selenium, vitamin D, B6, B12 and minerals such as zinc, iron and copper. Source: LiveStrong and BBCGoodFood
One of my favourite breakfast combinations, is having two eggs scrambled or poached with a splatter of turmeric powder, pepper and a pinch of salt.
3. Chick peas (Garbanzo beans)
Trying to lose weight? These “slimming beans” are a great source of fibre, protein, and healthy fats. You can boil it with some salt for flavouring and eat it like popcorn, or have it in a broth or soup. The South Indians make a great curry while the Middle Eastern community make hummus out of the chickpeas, or an amazing chicken and chickpea stew, or serve it in their salads. Rich in calcium, iron, manganese, phosphorous, potassium and folic acid, chick peas also contain folates which help in reducing amino acid and homocysteine, has a low glycemic index and are gluten-free! On that note, I’m off now to try out a chick-pea salad recipe!