Since beginning our Healthy Ingredient Spotlight series in January, we’ve broken down the health benefits of 12 different fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices that we love using in our kitchen. We’re excited to keep the series going and to bring you a slew of new spotlights as the cooler months roll in (they’ll be here before we know it!). While the weather is still warm and fresh produces is abundant, we wanted to round up everything we’ve covered in one place – no blog digging required!
Healthy Ingredient Spotlight:
Superfood Round Up
The very first in our series, turmeric is a bright-fleshed root that seems to be everywhere these days, thanks to more interest and studies about its potential medicinal uses. As a dried powder, turmeric is a warming spice found frequently in many Middle Eastern dishes. It also helps provide yellow mustard with its shocking color. Taste aside, it also has anti-inflammatory properties and is sometimes used to relieve stomach aches! Try adding some to our Chai Kefir Smoothie.
Taming tummy troubles happens to be a forte of ours, so it’s no wonder we took time to talk about ginger! A root in the same family as turmeric, ginger is another warming spice that is celebrated globally for its ability to aid digestion, relieve nausea and calm flatulence (we went there). We of course love it in our Tummy Taming Smoothie, but it’s also great in sauces, dips or dressings.
Who doesn’t love chocolate? With recent news promoting the health benefits of dark chocolate, we took some time to sort fact from fiction when it comes to the indulgent dessert. Things to keep in mind: not all chocolate is created equally, and you can have too much of a good thing. Look for high quality dark chocolate that is at least 70 percent cocoa and has few added ingredients. Also, watch your portion sizes – a little goes a long way. We love melting some to drizzle over our Coconut Frozen Kefir for a sweet, healthy treat.
Cinnamon works with (pretty much) anything and is an absolute staple in our kitchen. It adds a sweet spice to smoothies and desserts without adding sugar, and works equally well with savory dishes. We love it for its digestive supporting properties and were stoked to learn that it may lower blood sugar levels in individuals with diabetes! Again, cinnamon can be used anywhere, but we love it in our Kefir Peanut Butter Dip.
Asparagus is known for producing certain aromas after ingesting, but we love it for its high concentration of prebiotic inulin. Inulin is a type of fiber that is not absorbed in the digestive tract and instead passes through, helping to clear out and move things along. Grill it, sauté it, blanch it or bake it – asparagus is tasty any way you eat it! We especially love our Spring Vegetable Pasta with Kefir.
Another ancient superfood with nearly endless uses, honey is our natural sweetener of choice. Not only does raw honey contain antibacterial and antifungal properties, it also has antiseptic properties that can inhibit the growth of certain kinds of bacteria. Try it drizzled over apple slices, mixed into oatmeal or make up a batch of our Wasabi Honey Kefir Salad dressing (your dinner guests will thank you).
Tart Cherries were a new find for us, and we’re so glad we did! Tart cherries (and their juice) have been shown to help alleviate joint pain and soreness, to accelerate muscle recovery, and to promote a good night’s sleep. Add the juice straight to any smoothie or batch of porridge you were planning on making, or simply sip and enjoy!
Watercress, as we learned, is a super nutrient dense food that is related to kale and other cruciferous vegetables. It’s also bit of an anomaly, as it is somewhat aquatic and found mostly near streams or bodies of water. It has a nice peppery/spicy taste and is similar in texture to spinach. Blend it in a smoothie, toss it in a salad, or mince it in a creamy, cool dip for veggies.
Dates, while slightly odd looking, are as versatile as they are delicious. They’re a choice whole food snack for athletes, thanks to their high concentration of easily digested sugars, and they’re loaded with vitamins and minerals that support heart health. And let’s not forget fiber! Dates contain 12 grams of fiber per cup to help keep things moving along. Try them in this smoothie (it’s not just for moms-to-be!).
Sometimes called nature’s perfect food, avocados are also notorious for being full of fat. But it’s the good kind! The monounsaturated fat found in avocados is crucial for brain development and supports heart-health. It’s also linked with lower blood pressure and reduced risk of heart disease and stroke. Kefir and avocados are a match made in foodie heaven, so don’t feel bad reaching for seconds of this spicy dip or slice number two of our avocado toast. Psst, they’re also great for baking!
Watermelon isn’t just the star of our latest limited edition kefir flavor, it’s the star of summer in general! Roughly 92 percent water, it’s ultra hydrating and refreshing. We blend it in smoothies, freeze it for granita and eat it right off of the rind. There’s no wrong way to enjoy watermelon!
Just coming off of the end of #BlueberryMonth, we buried our faces in boxes of fresh blueberries and loved every minute of it. Blueberries are extremely high in phytonutrients, especially anthocyanins (where blueberries get their beautiful pigment), which protects against free radical damage. For a sweet treat, we reduce blueberries for a frozen kefir compote, or bake them in muffins. Enjoy them raw atop warm oatmeal or in a blended smoothie!
Stay tuned for our next Healthy Ingredient Spotlight and let us know if there’s something you’d like us to look into! We’d love to hear from you on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.