Grocery shopping can be quite boring if you shop for the same list of food items every week. It’s even boring to prepare the same dishes, you soon lose interest in cooking, and slowly start eating out. Ever wondered that there might be better ingredients out there but you just don’t know of them yet? Bring some life to your list and the dishes you cook with some of these rare yet healthy foods.
Chokos, also known as chayote, belong to the gourd family and are similar to melons, cucumbers, and squash. This fruit is a native of Central America and is available between the months of April and June.
Chokos have a mild flavor and are often cooked with other flavorsome foods. Eating chokos is one of the best ways to increase your fiber consumption. Fiber helps regulate bowel movements and blood sugar levels. The veggie halves can be stuffed or they can be diced, cooked, and served with a sauce. They can also be used in fruit and vegetable salads and in desserts, tarts, bread, jams, or cakes. Chokos can even be pickled or used as a base for relishes.
2. Plain Cannellini Beans
The nutty flavor and creamy texture of these beans are perfect for soups, casseroles, pasta dishes, and salads. These fiber-rich beans are good for digestion and may also aid weight loss. These beans are huge and require hours of soaking before they are cooked. After soaking, the beans should be boiled until they are tender.
Another alternative is to buy the canned versions. However, canned beans may be too salty and once you have tasted the homemade version, the canned ones may seem to lack in flavor.
Dukkah is a traditional Egyptian spice blend made with toasted nuts, seeds, and spices. It is a well-nourished spice mix as the nuts are a good source of proteins, fats, and other nutrients while the spices have anti-inflammatory properties that may aid in digestion. It often includes toasted hazelnuts or chickpeas as a nut base, along with spices like coriander, cumin, and sesame seeds. The nuts and spices can be altered based on personal preference and then ground into a powder. This mixture has a versatile, earthy flavor.
Dukkah can add flavor to just about any dish – from a crispy, crunchy coating on fish to seasoning on some fried eggs. You can also sprinkle some dukkah on avocado toast, hummus, or even yogurt to add some exotic flavor.
4. Caraway Seeds
Caraway seeds are aromatic spices used in traditional European cuisines that add flavor to a variety of savory dishes. They can be roasted on a low flame and added to soups and salads for flavor. They also add flavor and a pleasant aroma to bread, cakes, biscuits, and cheese and be used in marinades for meat preparations.
Caraway seeds are known to ease digestive issues like including heartburn, bloating, gas, loss of appetite, and mild spasms of the stomach and intestines.1 So, no need to think twice to add these seeds to your cart.
Arame, a type of brown algae, are commonly used in Japanese cuisine. They are rich in dietary fiber and minerals like calcium, sodium, magnesium, and potassium. Arame has been known to strengthen the immune system and fight harmful bacteria. These sea vegetables are a perfect option to flavor soups and salads and can be easily added to sauteed vegetable dishes, as well. Experiment different ways of cooking arame – steaming, stewing, or sauteing it – until you find the taste that best suits your taste buds.
Kohlrabi is part of the cabbage family and has a mild, sweet flavor with a crisp, crunchy texture. It looks very similar to turnips and is rich in vitamin c and minerals like calcium and potassium. Potassium is a mineral that is vital to maintain the electrical balance of the heart and build muscles while calcium is important for bone health.
It is always better to choose medium-sized kohlrabi and ensure the leaves are crispy and green. Avoid any bulbs that have soft spots or yellowing leaves. This is an easy vegetable to cook – roasting, steaming, boiling, and sauteing are just a few ways you can cook the vegetable. You can even add it to salads or curries to enhance the flavor.
7. Dulse Seaweed
Dulse is a salty seaweed or sea vegetable that can be used for just about any dish. It is rich in fiber, proteins, and minerals like sodium, iron, and iodine. Just 100 g of North American dulse contains about 28 g of fiber and proteins, 1.7 g of sodium, and 28 mg of iron.2
Dulse seaweed is available in the form of powder, flakes, or even whole pieces. These are excellent additions to soups, salads, and stews. You can also deep fry them (not the healthiest option) or dry-roast them to add to your dishes. Because of its high sodium content, dulse seaweed can be used as a substitute for table salt. However, due to heavy metal intoxication, too much use of the seaweed is not advised.
Try these new foods and ingredients to add flavor to your dishes and make cooking a better experience. If you are new to any of the above foods, try small quantities. That way, you will know if you are allergic to them.
|↑1||Miraj, Sepide, and Sara Kiani. “Pharmacological activities of Carum carvi L.” Der Pharmacia Lettre 8, no. 6 (2016): 135-138.|
|↑2||Full Report (All Nutrients): 45241361, NORTH AMERICAN DULSE, UPC: 630614000037. United States Department of Agriculture.|