If you follow me on on Instagram or Facebook you might have noticed that I've been cooking with a few more unusual ingredients lately.
This is because I was sent a copy of Julie Morris's new book - Superfood Kitchen - to cook some recipes from and try out.
Although there's no legal definition of a 'superfood' as such, demand for foods that are supposed to give us a greater feeling of wellbeing and improved health are on the rise. Foods like maca powder, spirulina, matcha, wheatgrass and hemp seeds. Foods that perhaps you don't throw into your trolley on the average weekly shop. I can say that before now, I hadn't tried even one of these foods. But I was about to.
The first obstacle you'll probably come to after you've flicked through the lovely photos and recipes in this book is where the heck am I going to buy all this stuff? But after a bit of searching online, I found health stores stock many of these ingredients. You might be able to get them from Amazon. I got mine from Ocado, who are usually my best bet when I need to buy something slightly out of the ordinary.
So I set to work. Sprinkling a maca powder spice blend all over my oven-baked sweet potato chips, spending all of Friday morning baking a crunchy granola mixture flecked with crunchy hemp seeds and whizzing wheatgrass into my smoothie.
Lovely dinner: bbq sweet potato fries from #superfoodkitchencookbook by Julie Morris @superfoodjules - nightshade spices so #aipreintroduction - also avocado, minced beef and onion and a load of salad with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. #paleo #paleouk #paleoblogger #happy #health #healing #healthy #hblogger #glutenfree #dairyfree #superfoods #superfoodskitchen #blogger #foodblogger #food #dinner #guthealth #nutrientdense #nutrition #paleokids #autoimmune #autoimmunedisease #psoriasis #ibs #anxiety #instafood
Did I feel different? There were a few times after trying these recipes that I felt energised, yes. But then it's difficult to say if my brain was telling me what I wanted to hear. My husband and I ate a sushi bowl for lunch one day (we added salmon, which wasn't in the recipe) topped with sliced nori sheets. It was incredible. The girls loved it too - it tasted like their favourite sushi and they asked me to make it again. Now that's a result.
All the superfoods are explained in the book, so you know what to buy to target specific things. Maca has a sweet, mushroomy kind of flavour (I don't know why I expected it to taste like chocolate, though!) but it does stimulate the immune system which might be wonderful during the winter when you're unknowingly battling coughs and colds, but then again might not be the best thing for us with already excitable immune systems. But see how you go with it. Hemp seeds, I learned, are high in omega 3 and 6 fats - so can help you get the right balance in your body - and they were pretty good in that granola. Which I'm making again by the bucketload, by the way.
The book was a pleasure to flick through - the photographs are beautiful, the recipes manageable, realistic and easy to follow - and the superfoods in each recipe are identified very clearly with a little sign next to them in the ingredients list. I will use this book, and it did also inspire me as my mind raced with other things I could make with these 'superfoods'.
I found that ingredients like wheatgrass, hemp seeds and maca powder were a bit on the pricey side. Nori sheets were a little more realistic, from the supermarket, at around £3. I would recommend that you read the book, have a think about a couple of things you want to target (nutrients, energy levels, sex drive - yes, really) and then buy a couple of the superfoods that are supposed to help that, rather than stock your cupboards full of jars and tubs of everything you see in the book, which will end up costing you a small fortune. Even better, you can split a jar with a friend or neighbour to see how you both get on.
Have you read Superfood Kitchen? What did you think?
Note to AIP/Paleo readers: do your own research into whether certain superfoods listed in the book correspond with your diet. For example, wheatgrass is the grass part of the wheat grain, but general consensus is that it is paleo. However, I've heard that maca powder might stimulate your immune system so might not work so well for you if you're on AIP. Read up and make your own mind up before trying any of the superfoods, or get professional advice if you're unsure.