The holy grain

The holy grain

What’s top of your healthy eating list for 2018? Kale or kaffir? Quinoa or cashews? Jane Pikett sorts the wheat from the chaff

I never much like New Year’s Day. The hangover doubtless has much to do with this, plus the extra half stone gained over Christmas, and the enthusiasm of the Dry January/New Year New You brigade with their bright eyes and fluffy pom pom hats. No, sorry, I don’t hold with any of it.

January, to my mind, is a month for hibernating, eating stew, and feeling sorry for myself that the nice bits of winter – Bonfire Night, first snow, Christmas – are gone, and we still have three long, dark months to wait for spring.

Apparently, however, tradition dictates that I have to furnish you, dear reader, with lots of health-giving advice as a means of welcoming the new year, and making up some ground for the calorie count on the pages preceding this, so that is what I’m going to do. So here you have it – your 2018 superfood trends…

Flower power
We all love a few pretty petals sprinkled on our salad, but did you know that they can be good for you? Hibiscus can lower blood pressure and ease digestion, and nasturtium can treat sinusitis, bronchitis boost your immunity. Expect to see more blooms like these, plus lavender, elderflower and rose on your plate/in your teacup in 2018.

On a bowl
Food served in a bowl (no, I don’t just mean your morning Rice Krispies) is taking over from the awful trend for bread boards and slates. I give you, dear reader, the Hawaiian Poke bowl and the Korean Bibimap. Usually, unlike the aforementioned breakfast cereal, packed with health-giving fruit, veg and super grains.

Grain fame
Not that long ago an object of curiosity reserved only for the A-list, quinoa is now as workaday as pasta shells. So, now you’ve got that one sussed, I give you sorghum. Big in the East, and barely known in the West, this tasty, gluten-free grain is rich in antioxidants. Use sorghum flour, porridge, and use the grain in recipes calling for wheat berries or Israeli couscous.

Veggie bread
Look out for healthy vegetable breads hitting a bakery near you any day now. Following the trend for beetroot and courgette in cakes, veggie breads are big news, packed with courgette, apples, carrots, squash, sweet potato, beetroot and more.

It’s been at the heart of a long-running storyline in BBC Radio 4’s The Archers over the last few months, which is all the encouragement I need to declare this fermented milk drink bang on trend. It’s got a tart, sour taste and a slight fizz, which it seems people either love or hate. It’s packed with calcium, rich in probiotics and can ease digestion.

Another fermented drink, dating to the Far East 2,000 years ago, this is also packed with probiotics. Like kefir, it is also mildly fizzy and slightly sour, and unlike kefir it is a tea-based drink, rather than a milk one. 

So, so good for you, kimchi is a fermented blend of cabbage, chili, garlic, scallions and spices eaten with every meal in Korea. Packed with vitamins A , B C and full of antioxidants, it’s another giant of the fermented food revolution.

Plant power
Nut and oat milks are a delicious alternative to dairy, and definitely not for the lactose-intolerant only. Use oat milk on your porridge, and you will never look back.

V Va shroom
Mushrooms are big news for 2018 and are in everything from smoothies to teas to coffee. Dried mushrooms and mushroom powders will grow in popularity.

Best veg
Broccoli – all the Vit K and C you need in any day in one medium stalk; Spinach – full of immune-boosting antioxidants good for eye health; Celery – Anti-inflammatory,  good for your gut, and full of antioxidants; Radish – Packed with vitamins, minerals and fibre; Potato – The red potato is packed with folate, while sweet potatoes are loaded with Vitamin A

Purple reign
Packed with iron and folate, antioxidants and – possibly – the power to ward off dementia (so says the NHS), beetroot is one of the best of the purple powered super foods which also include blueberries.

Root to stem
The veggie version of nose to tail eating, the root to stem movement is all about eating every bit of your fruit or veg – including leaves, flowers and seeds. Asparagus stems, for example, are great in stock with your celery and onions. Beetroot leaves make a good soup or pesto. Blanch chard stems and use them in pickles.

Dark Chocolate
The sworn enemy of high blood pressure, a couple of squares a day are rich in flavonoids, which are the antioxidants shown to reduce cholesterol.

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