We hear about the latest super food all the time – a latest wonder fruit, exotic bacteria or rare tropical root. What I’m interested in here, and what I’ve been fascinated with for some time, is which are the ingredients that we can access anytime, from most shops, that are actually super foods.
If you have any favourite ingredients, sitting unpretentiously in your cupboards that makes you feel better when ill and more alive when well or that you use as medicine, I would love to hear about it in the comments below.
The first one which springs to my mind is the mighty ginger, which apart from being an essential component in most African, Oriental, Indian and middle eastern cooking, is a first medicine in our family for anything from a sore throat to an upset stomach, and is known to also be effective for heartburn, headaches, arthritis and many more ailments.
The next one, ginger’s sister, is Turmeric. Apart from colouring & flavouring curries, my wife uses it for boosting the immune system when one of us is feeling poorly by mixing with honey on a spoon, or making a tea. In addition it is known to have anti-cancer properties. Turmeric is said to help boost appetite, lower blood pressure, improve bile secretion and reduce pain; it has anti-inflammatory effects and is packed full of vitamins & minerals. It has recently been found to aid weight loss as well!
I couldn’t mention these two without mentioning another in the family – Cardamom, a favourite flavouring of mine in both sweet and savoury cooking, and a known anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, digestive aid and has anti-cancer properties. It also gives a nice mental boost.
Some other common culinary medicinal herbs & vegetables, starting with the obvious mighty Carrot are: Beetroot, Garlic, Onion, Oregano, Sage, Peppermint, Raspberries, Fennel, as well as most of the culinary spices we use. Here’s a further 10 everyday super foods.
Next are a few foods or medicines we can forage. Foraging for foods is great fun with the family, and as you will see, there is an array of medicines available free on our doorstep (well nearly): Elderberries, Dandelion, Nettles, Lime blossom, Yarrow, Apples, Birch.
For a mental boost, not so common but one I’ve found to be highly effective, is the mighty Ginseng, available in good oriental stores. A great natural booster that is less damaging than caffeine, Ginseng is also effective for high blood pressure & diabetes. Another in this category is green tea, known for it’s antioxidant properties, but I’ve recently heard that Olive leaf tea, with many health properties, is like green tea to the power of ten. You can get it here, or if you want UK-grown Olive leaf tea, you can splash out here. Some other natural aids to concentration.
The last, least obvious source of accessible super foods are bacteria. The good ones can be cultivated in yoghurt or sourdough bread, but another point on the flip side is over sanitisation, which can bring it’s own health risks.
Here’s a nice suggestion for how to identify health giving foods.