If you read my blog last week, then you know I started a series of posts about Asian superfoods – some with great healing benefits that we might not think about here in the US. If you missed my first post, you can read it here.
This week, I’m going to give you the lowdown on four more Asian superfoods that are loaded with vitamins, antioxidants, and huge disease-healing and prevention powers.
First on the list is seaweed. I know what you are thinking… it doesn’t sound very appetizing. However, not all seaweed is created equal 🙂 There are edible types of seaweed used in soup stocks, Asian salads, and of course in sushi. You might recognize the names nori, wakame, and kombu from Japanese menus. One of my favorite things to order in a sushi restaurant is a wakame salad. Honestly it didn’t look very edible the first time I tried it, but the flavors were delicious and kept me going back for more. Nori is the type of seaweed that you’ll see wrapped around your sushi. While likely an acquired taste for some, I find it provides a nice salty flavor. A few months ago, I saw a toddler being pushed in a stroller eating what looked to me like dried seaweed. I asked the mom, and that is exactly what it was. I was shocked that a toddler would find that a suitable snack! I easily found this snack on the shelves the next time I went to Trader Joe’s (who knew?!), and now I’m addicted.
Photo courtesy of Club Trader Joe's
It’s kind’ve like eating chips, but not as crunchy & without all of the fat & calories. I definitely recommend giving it a try! As for the benefits, seaweed is rich in iodine (good for the thyroid) and also contains vitamins A & E. It also contains folate, which is necessary for repairing damaged DNA and forming healthy blood cells.
Next on the list is coriander. I became very confused by the difference between coriander and cilantro while I was in Japan, so I had to do some research. As it turns out, they are actually the same herb — however, when the leaves are used it is referred to as cilantro. The seeds of the plant are called coriander. Coriander is rich in beta-carotene and vitamin C — two antioxidants that protect against age-related eye disease such as macular degeneration. It also removes excess heavy metals from the body, such as mercury contained in the fish we are eating, other metals in our drinking water, and those we get from daily exposure to our environment. Coriander is used in making curries, so if you are a curry fan then look no further! I discovered something just this week that is a new favorite! I am a huge fan of dark chocolate infused with spices. I started out eating dark chocolate with cinnamon & chili peppers, and now I try it with any kind of spice. This week, my local market had some new chocolate bars on offer. I picked up this one.
It did NOT disappoint! This is my new favorite after-dinner treat!! Eating a square or two of dark chocolate every day is totally allowed. Dark chocolate also has its share of antioxidants, so as long as you stick to a small portion it is good for you 🙂
Next on the list is almonds. You might not think of almonds as an Asian superfood, but they are incorporated into Asian desserts more than I see here in the US. Almonds are rich in vitamin E. They are great for your skin and help lower HDL (bad cholesterol). Almonds are also high in potassium, manganese, and riboflavin. Raw unsalted almonds best, but when I eat them alone as a snack, I prefer them roasted.
Last on the list for today’s post is sesame seeds. Sesame seeds are high in vitamin E like almonds, and keep your skin & heart healthy. Black sesame seeds are high in calcium. These can be found in most Asian food markets, and are really good in marinades or sprinkled on top of plain rice. Tahini is a paste made from sesame seeds makes great dips and salad dressings. Try this delicious recipe from Whole Living magazine that I have tried using tahini as a garnish for fruit salad.
Photo courtesy of Whole Living magazine
Stay tuned for next week, part 3 of 3 in the Asian Superfood series. Don’t forget… if you missed last week, you can check it out here.
Leave me a comment below if you have any recipes or great snack ideas using these superfoods!