"You are what you eat."
I'm sure you've heard of this saying before, but what does it really mean?
Our human body loses approximately 300 billion cells every day and they must be replaced; what you put in your mouth is essentially what's used to rebuild the new cells - so yes, you are literally composed of the things you eat.
But are you willing to forgo your weekend indulgences of Char Kway Teow and BBQ chicken wings in return for a healthier body?
How about having a bowl of leafy greens and steamed chicken for every meal?
Well, fret not, power foods are here to the rescue!
What you add to your diet is as important as what you eat less of.
Although health awareness campaigns often remind us to choose foods that contain less sugar, salt, oil, etc, etc, we have to think about what beneficial foods we are adding to our diets as well.
Here's a list of foods that would change the way your body feels.
Photo credit: Healthline.com
This commonly eaten ingredient is extremely popular in Indian and Malay cuisines - it's one of the main spices used to make curry. From your fish head curry to briyani rice, this deep yellow-orange root doesn't only give dishes a popping colour and a warm, earthy aroma; it also has many health benefits to boot.
Curcumin, the main active ingredient found in turmeric, is a powerful antioxidant that has strong anti-inflammatory effects. Scientists have established that chronic low-level inflammation is linked to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes - so eating foods with anti-inflammatory properties would reduce your chances of developing such illnesses.
2. Goji berries
Photo credit: Healthline.com
Goji berries (枸杞子) are traditionally used in Chinese medicine and in herbal dishes and soups. These bright-red berries may be tiny but don't let its size fool you; it is one of the strongest antioxidants that can be found in natural food.
Antioxidants counteract the free radicals in our bodies, effectively reducing "oxidative stress" - the phenomenon that causes our bodies to age faster and develop degenerative diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
In addition, Goji berries can help to boost energy levels and mood, so it won't hurt to take a serving of these to perk up your day!
Photo credit: Maysimpkin.com
Which super foods list can be complete without Kale, the quintessential power food? This proclaimed "Queen of greens" is a nutrition powerhouse that contains a wide spectrum of vitamins and minerals that are essential for your body's maintenance.
Kale is rich in vitamin A, which is responsible for cell turnover - the process where old and damaged cells are replaced with newer, healthier ones - think younger looking skin.
It's also super rich in vitamin C (twice as much as oranges!), that is responsible for the synthesis of collagen (the substance that makes your skin soft and supple).
Last but not least, its antioxidant properties help to slow down the aging process and reduce wrinkles, acne, and pigmentation.
Photo credit: Myculturedpalate.com
Kefir comes from the Turkish word "keyif", which means "feeling good". This smooth and tangy cultured beverage has way more probiotic properties compared to yoghurt and is known to boost immunity and reduce digestion-linked problems such as diarrhea and lactose intolerance - no wonder its name!
It is commonly made using milk and "starter" grains which contain healthy yeast and bacteria. During the culturing process, the Kefir grains ferment and integrate with the milk to form the cultured drink. Another great thing is that the grains are reusable - you just have to strain it out and plant it into a new batch of milk!
5. Dark chocolate
Photo credit: Servingjoy.com
Wait, what? I can have my chocolate and eat it too?
Yes, that's right. Despite being sinfully indulgent, dark chocolate actually has several awesome health benefits! Polyphenol, a type of compound found in the popular cocoa tidbit, is known to help balance cholesterol levels.
Studies have shown that consuming dark chocolate for a week has led to 6% reduction in LDL (bad) cholesterol and a 9% increase of HDL (good) cholesterol, this reduces the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
That's not all, due to its abundance of flavonoids, dark chocolate is also considered a brain food and can improve your focus and memory!
There you have it, five super foods with superb benefits! Add any of these into your diet and you would be on your way to a healthier body in no time. Do check out the recipes below too!
1. Dang Gui Chicken with Black Fungus and Goji Berries
Cooking video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_RhenIZ3yY
Preparation Time: 1 hr 30 mins | Cook Time: 20 mins | Total Time: 1 hr 50 mins
No. of servings: 6
- 1 Chicken, cut into smaller pieces （1只鸡，切成小块）
- 25g Black fungus （25克黑木耳）
- 7 Red Dates （7红枣）
- 2 big slices Angelica Root （2大片当归）
- 2 tsp Wolfberries （2茶匙枸杞子)
- 25g Ginger, julienned （25g姜，切条）
Marinade for Chicken:
- 3 tbsp Oyster sauce （3汤匙耗油）
- 2 tsp Soya sauce （2茶匙酱青）
- 1 tsp Salt （1茶匙盐）
- 1 tsp Cornflour （1茶匙蜀粉）
- 1 tbsp Sesame Oil （1汤匙麻油）
- 1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine （1汤匙绍兴酒）
- Pinch of Pepper （胡椒粉）
Cooking Directions 烹煮过程
Step 1: Prepare the ingredients （准备食材）
- Soak Angelica root, Black Fungus and Red Dates separately until they have softened. Drain the water. Cut Angelica root into small slices, remove roots from fungus, remove the seed from the red date. Set aside. （将当归，黑木耳和红枣分别浸泡至软化。排水。将当归切成小片，黑木耳除去硬根，红枣去除种子。搁置。）
Step 2: Marinate the chicken （腌鸡）
- In a bowl with chicken, pour in all the marinades. Mix well, cling wrap and put it in the chiller for at least 1 hour. （在一个碗里，倒入鸡肉和所有的腌料。混合好，用保鲜膜包好，并放入冰箱腌制至少1小时。）
Step 3: Steam and ready to serve （蒸鸡，即可享用！）
- On the steam plate, lay the ingredients as follow: Fungus, portion of julienned ginger, angelic root and red dates. Lay the chicken across the plate, spread the remaining herbs on it. Lastly, pour 1 tbsp of the marinade on the chicken. （在蒸盘上，按顺序摆放材料： 黑木耳，一部分的姜，当归和红枣。将鸡放在盘子上，将剩余的材料撒在鸡上。最后，将1汤匙的腌料倒在鸡肉上。）
- Once the steamer is hot, place the plate in and let it steam for approximately 20 mins. To check if chicken is cooked, use a toothpick to poke through the meat. If it can penetrate through without any resistance, the dish is ready to be serve.（一旦蒸锅热后，将鸡肉放入锅里蒸约20分钟。要检查鸡已经熟透，用牙签刺进肉里。如果能够轻松的刺透，那这道菜已经熟了。
2. Milk Kefir
Photo credit: Essentialnutrition.com.br
Makes 1 cup
- 1 cup milk, preferably whole fat
- 1 teaspoon active kefir grains
- 1 pint-sized glass jar
- Cheesecloth, paper towel, or clean napkin
- Small strainer (preferably plastic, but metal is ok)
- Storage container with lid
- Combine the milk and the grains in a jar: Pour the milk into a clean glass jar (not metal) and stir in the kefir grains. The milk can be cold or room temperature, either is fine.
- Cover the jar: Cover the jar with cheesecloth, a paper towel, or a clean napkin and secure it with a rubber band. Do not screw a lid onto the jar as the build up of carbon dioxide from the fermenting grains can cause pressure to build in the jar, and in extreme cases, cause the jar to burst.
- Ferment for 12 to 48 hours: Store the jar at room temperature (ideally around 70°F) away from direct sunlight. Check the jar every few hours. When the milk has thickened and tastes tangy, it's ready. This will usually take about 24 hours at average room temperatures; the milk will ferment faster at warmer temperatures and slower at cool temperatures. If your milk hasn't fermented after 48 hours, strain out the grains and try again in a fresh batch (this sometimes happens when using new kefir grains, when refreshing dried kefir grains, or when using grains that have been refrigerated).
- Strain out the kefir grains: Place a small strainer over the container you'll use to store the kefir. Strain the kefir into the container, catching the grains in the strainer.
- Transfer the grains to fresh milk: Stir the grains into a fresh batch of milk and allow to ferment again. This way, you can make a fresh batch of kefir roughly every 24 hours. To take a break from making kefir, place the grains in fresh milk, cover tightly, and refrigerate.
- Drink or refrigerate the milk kefir: The prepared milk kefir can be used or drunk immediately, or covered tightly and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.
*Recipe from TheKitchn website
3. Honey turmeric chicken
Photo credit: Rasamalaysia.com
Serves 2 | Prep Time: 10 Mins | Cook Time: 5 Mins
- 4 chicken thighs, deboned but skin-on (12 oz chicken)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce or soy sauce
- Scant 3/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- Add the garlic, honey, oyster sauce, turmeric powder, cayenne pepper and salt to the chicken, stir to combine well.
- Heat up a skillet (cast-iron preferred) on medium heat and add the oil. Transfer the chicken to the skillet and cook on both sides, until they turn golden brown, crispy on the bottom and nicely glazed and browned on the skin side. Dish out and serve immediately.
*Recipe from RasaMalaysia website