How to include more superfoods in your diet

19 January 2016
Healthy green kale

Superfoods are something we hear about all the time. It seems every few months, a new food suddenly gains ‘super’ status. And before we know it, the internet is heaving with recipe ideas and products promising to help us up our intake of it.

The truth is, there’s no way of testing whether a food is ‘super’ or not. Nor is there an actual definition of a superfood. Brands are often responsible for a sudden interest in a particular food. Celebrities and social media also play a big part in what health foods we should be seen to eat.

That said, foods classed as superfoods are often rich in a particular nutrient or other bioactive substance and therefore can be enjoyed and incorporated into a healthy diet.

Quinoa, chia seeds and kale are all foods that are being searched more and more on the internet, year on year. So I’m going to give you my top tips and simple recipes to help you include these popular foods, often touted as superfoods, in your diet.

Quinoa

Quinoa is a grain that’s high in protein and fibre, and packed with vitamins and minerals. It’s a perfect addition to a vegetarian or vegan diet, and because it’s gluten-free, it’s a great option if you have an intolerance to wheat. Here are five easy ways to incorporate it into your diet.

  • Where you would use rice in a dish, simply swap it for quinoa.
  • Mix cooked quinoa into any salad for a protein boost.
  • Blend cooked quinoa into a fruit or vegetable smoothie.
  • Make your own energy bars using quinoa alongside oats.
  • Stir cooked quinoa into any soup to bulk it out and fill you up.

Quinoa salad

This is a favourite of mine. Easy to make in advance and take with you to work or when you’re out and about.

Ingredients for one person:

  • 30g uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 80ml water
  • a few cherry tomatoes, halved
  • a small handful of black olives, pitted and sliced
  • a matchbox-sized amount of feta cheese, cut into small cubes
  • a small handful of roasted sunflower seeds
  • one red onion, finely chopped

For the dressing:

  • a small handful of chopped fresh parsley
  • a drizzle of olive oil
  • a little lemon juice
  • mild mustard, about half to one teaspoon
  • 1 chopped garlic clove

Method:

  1. In a medium saucepan, add the water and quinoa. Bring to the boil over a high heat, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the water has been absorbed. Spread the quinoa on a plate and allow to cool.
  2. Once quinoa has cooled, transfer to a large bowl. Add the tomatoes, olives, feta, sunflower seeds, onion and parsley. Toss to combine.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients.
  4. Pour dressing over the quinoa salad and toss.

A bowl of quinoa

Chia seeds

Like most seeds, chia seeds are rich in vitamins, minerals and protein. They also contain healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats – fats that are essential to our health. All seeds (not just chia seeds) are great to have as a snack or to incorporate into recipes. Here are my top ways to get more seeds into your diet.

  • Sprinkle a handful onto your breakfast cereal in the morning.
  • Use them as a topping to add crunch and flavour to any dessert, such as yogurt or a fruit salad.
  • If you make bread, add some seeds to boost its nutrition content and to give it a lovely crunch.
  • Make up a pot of mixed seeds and nuts, and take it to work with you as a healthy snack.

 

Strawberry chia seed dessert

Make this tasty dessert the night before you plan to enjoy it.

Ingredients for one person:

  • 50ml unsweetened almond milk
  • 60g vanilla yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 10g chia seeds
  • 80g strawberries, sliced (to serve)

Method:

  1. Soak the chia seeds in water for 30 minutes.
  2. Whisk the rest of the ingredients, except the strawberries, in a bowl until just blended, then add the chia seeds and whisk again.
  3. Cover the bowl with cling film and chill overnight.
  4. When ready to serve add the sliced strawberries.

Chia seeds on a spoon

Kale

The famous kale is a leafy green vegetable. Like all leafy greens, it’s packed with iron and other nutrients. For example, it’s a great source of folic acid – a B vitamin that is vital for the formation of red blood cells.

It’s very simple to include more kale and other leafy green vegetables into your diet. Add them to stir-fries, casseroles, smoothies and salads.

 

Kale, kiwi and apple smoothie

A refreshing and hydrating smoothie for anytime of the day.

Ingredients for one person:

  • 100g uncooked kale
  • 1 apple
  • 1 kiwi fruit
  • 250ml water (or try coconut water or almond milk)
  • the juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger

Method:

Core and chop the apple, scoop out the flesh of the kiwi. Remove the stem of the kale leaf and chop. Place the apple, kiwi and kale in a blender with the water (or almond milk), lemon juice and ginger, and blend. Add ice for a refreshing, chilled smoothie.

Remember, any food classed as a superfood can be a great addition to a balanced diet. But eating lots of one food doesn’t mean you’ll suddenly reap all the health benefits people claim it may have. The key is to enjoy a balanced diet, rich in fruit and vegetables, fibre and wholegrains. This week, try incorporating quinoa, seeds and kale into your diet and explore how delicious they can make your meals and snacks.




Do you know how healthy you truly are? Bupa health assessments give you a clear overview of your health. You’ll receive a personalised lifestyle action plan with health goals to reach for a healthier, happier you.


Dietitian at Bupa UK

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