What are superfoods?
25th April, 2022 |
From fighting cancer and heart disease to controlling your weight and improving your complexion, there are many reasons to eat a healthy diet. Something that’s often discussed is the benefit of eating so-called ‘superfoods.’ What are they? And how might you add them to your mobile catering menu? Read our ‘super’ superfood guide and get ahead of the competition.
A great looking menu that draws in the punters is only one part of a successful mobile catering business. You’ll also want to keep on top of business matters such as finding the perfect catering van insurance for your needs and budget.
If you’re looking for catering van insurance cover then give the helpful team at Mobilers a call. They’re always on hand to help you protect your business, whatever you’re serving!
What are superfoods and why are they so super?
‘Superfoods’ is a bit of a puzzling term. It tends to appear in connection with food and drink that’s considered to be nutritionally dense and good for your health. It’s been applied to common foods such as broccoli, beetroot and berries but also more unusual items such as kombucha, spirulina and wheatgrass.
However, it’s not a scientific term and there’s no set legal definition of how nutritional a food has to be before it can be called a superfood. Indeed, some experts say the term is both arbitrary and misleading.
Some nutritionists are also worried the nutritional benefits are being oversold in order to promote certain foods. When you think about it, would eating a handful of berries really be enough to counteract an otherwise appallingly bad diet? No matter how tempting it sounds, we don’t think so!
While it may be difficult to scientifically prove how one single food will improve your health, there are a number of benefits that can be derived from eating a range of these foods. Here are just four reasons why they’re so great:
- Full of vitamins and minerals
Many superfoods contain plenty of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, B vitamins, calcium, iron and lots more. Your body needs a certain amount of these micronutrients to work properly and stay healthy. Obviously, the exact levels will depend on the food. If you’re wondering whether cooking reduces the levels in the foods, then read this interesting article on BBC GoodFood.
- Contain antioxidants
Antioxidants are believed to reduce the damaging effects of free radicals. Free radical damage has been linked to a whole host of diseases including heart disease and stroke, cancer, arthritis and Alzheimer’s.
- Promotion of good health
Some foods like oats and other wholegrains have been shown to help reduce cholesterol and regulate blood sugar. For more on how to use food to bust your cholesterol read this great article from Heart UK, the cholesterol charity.
- Help weight control
Most of these foods are plant-based and unprocessed. Including more of them could help someone lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
Adding a new and interesting recipe to your menu or giving a super-healthy twist to an old favourite can always be a bit of a risk. But such risks are often worth it in the end.
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Delicious superfoods to add some oomph to your mobile catering menu
While there may be no such thing as a ‘miracle’ food, superfoods can still make a valuable contribution to any healthy, balanced diet. Not sure where to start? Try adding the foods below to your menu and up your customers’ superfood intake.
From Acai berries to wheatgrass, here are some of the most popular superfoods on the market. But remember, even if a food hasn’t joined the ‘super’ list, it doesn’t mean it can’t add plenty to your menu.
- Acai berries
These small, dark purple berries originate from the Brazilian rainforest and pack a hefty punch when it comes to antioxidants, amino acids, fibre, essential fatty acids, and vitamins and minerals. They’re usually found in powdered form, which has a delicious berry and chocolate flavour that goes great in smoothies. Try this super-colourful breakfast smoothie bowl from BBC GoodFood. It's a great start to the day and changing the toppings will keep it fresh whatever the season.
Boasting a mixture of healthy monounsaturated fat, fibre, vitamins and minerals, and an incredibly creamy texture, avocado makes a fantastic addition to any meal. Whether adding to salads, spreading on toast, or even as part of a dessert, it’s very versatile. Here are 52 mouth-watering recipes to help you work avocado into your menu.
When the days are feeling grey, it’s a great idea to mix up your menu with as much brightly-coloured fruit and veg as possible. And they don’t come much more colourful than a beautiful beetroot. We all know the more varied your diet, the wider the range of nutrients you’ll consume, and the more ‘super’ you’ll feel. Chuck some beetroot into the mix and you’ll feel brighter already!
There’s a wide variety of berries available throughout the year to give customers their fill of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and fibre. Berries like raspberries, blueberries, cherries, cranberries and blackberries are particularly rich in antioxidants and will already be well known to your customers. Adding them to recipes is also a good way to add sweetness without resorting to unhealthy refined sugars.
Chlorella is a hugely nutrient-dense food that is available in powdered form. It’s derived from a type of freshwater algae and is full of nutrients including vitamin B12, vitamin D and iron. With a bright green colour and a slightly bitter taste you’ll want to use it sparingly in smoothies or other healthy concoctions. We’ve seen it work really well in fresh basil pesto and spicy guacamole.
- Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate can pack a big nutritional punch, with high levels of manganese, magnesium and copper as well as powerful antioxidants. And if it’s made from cacao instead of cocoa then it’s even more beneficial.
That said, beware of believing everything you hear about the health benefits of chocolate. The British Heart Foundation has highlighted these eight common chocolate myths.
Widely used throughout history in both cooking and medicine, garlic not only tastes amazing but it also contains heaps of nutrients. You’ll find it contains plenty of vitamin C, manganese, selenium, fibre and vitamin B6, alongside plenty of other goodies. It’s been lauded for its antibiotic, antifungal and antiviral properties and was used by the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and Chinese to help cure a variety of ailments, from bronchitis to whooping cough.
Another ancient ingredient that’s popular in the kitchen as well as the doctor’s surgery, the root of the ginger plant is rich in antioxidants like gingerol. It’s well known to help control nausea and ease the symptoms of some chronic inflammatory conditions. Often used in Caribbean, Indian and Asian cuisines, it can be added to a whole range of dishes to give a warming glow.
- Green tea
According to the NHS, we should all be drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day. And what better way to keep customers hydrated than with a cup of low calorie, antioxidant rich, super green tea.
But it’s not just through drinking that you can gain the benefits of green tea. You can add matcha green tea powder to any number of recipes. Whether as part of a vibrant green breakfast or a hearty weekend brunch these spinach and matcha pancakes are divine.
We all know it’s important to ‘eat our greens’, but there are few dark green, leafy vegetables that are as super as kale. It’s got very high levels of vitamin C, vitamin A and vitamin K for normal bone function and blood clotting. It also contains vitamin B6 that helps the normal functioning of both the nervous system and the immune system. Plus, it also provides hearty helpings of iron, manganese, calcium, copper, potassium and magnesium.
Whether whizzed up in a smoothie, baked into crunchy crisps or sliced into a delicious salad, it’s easy to put kale to good use in your catering van.
This fermented milk drink is rich in protein, B vitamins, calcium, potassium and probiotics. Typically containing more healthy probiotics than yoghurt it can help reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure and improve digestion. If you don’t want to buy it, you can make it by yourself using this recipe. Kefir is quite versatile and can be used in a range of tasty recipes.
If you don’t fancy kefir then there are other probiotic-rich foods available including:
- Kombucha – Fermented black or green tea drink.
- Plant-based or dairy yoghurt.
- Kimchi – Korean dish of salted and fermented veg like cabbage
- Sauerkraut – Fermented cabbage, one of the national dishes of Germany.
- Leafy green vegetables
It’s not all about kale when it comes to leafy greens. This food group is often high in calcium, folate, magnesium, iron, vitamin K and vitamin C, as well as a healthy serving of fibre. The antioxidants they contain have been shown to have many benefits including protecting bone health.
Other popular edible green leafy vegetables to add to the mix include:
- Spinach – Loved by Popeye it’s high in fibre, iron and potassium. Use it as a bed for a colourful super salad, or lightly sauté it with garlic for a tasty side.
- Swiss chard – This colourful green is an excellent source of vitamins A, C and K, magnesium and a host of antioxidants.
- Rocket – This spicy green is high in vitamins C, E, B and K. Add Jamie Oliver’s scrummy warm rocket salad to your seasonal recipe arsenal.
Any of these would work perfectly when added in a stir-fry, curry, soup, salad, smoothie, or pasta dish.
Beans, peas, lentils, alfalfa, chickpeas, peanuts and many more members of this food group are rightly classed as superfoods. They contain lots of essential nutrients and are perfect as a healthy addition to any mobile catering menu. Legumes are particularly high in plant protein, B vitamins, minerals, and dietary fibre. They’ve also been linked with reduced cholesterol and blood pressure. They can also help promote healthy weight maintenance due to their filling fibre content.
They’re great added to casseroles, soups and curries and perfect in a salad or as a side. For example, toss cooked green lentils with roasted beetroot, shredded mint and a white wine vinaigrette for a side that’s great with lamb.
Just be sure that you tell customers if any of your food contains nuts or any other ingredient that could spark an allergic reaction.
Used in Eastern medicine for thousands of years, mushrooms are not only delicious but also have a range of health benefits when eaten. There are so many different mushroom varieties to try. It’s so easy to provide a boost to any dish with the addition of some mushrooms. From standard button and portobello mushrooms to shiitake, chestnut, and oyster mushrooms, they all have their own unique nutrient content. All are low calorie, virtually fat free and high in antioxidants.
Nuts, glorious nuts! Packed with plant protein, heart-healthy fats, fibre, vitamins and minerals to boot, we all love nuts. From almonds, pistachios, and cashews to macadamia, pecans and Brazil they not only taste delicious but are also great for your health. But remember they are highly calorific so you’ll want to use them in moderation.
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- Olive oil
High in monounsaturated fats, olive oil is a staple part of that much-lauded Mediterranean diet we hear so much about in health magazines. A natural oil extracted from the fruit of olive trees, it’s great for the heart, good for the skin, lowers cholesterol, and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties too. Be aware, the more the olive oil has been processed the less benefits it will bring.
Easy to use and oh-so-versatile, this wholegrain is not only rich in fibre, B vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc. It’s also higher in protein than most grains and naturally gluten-free.
Did we mention that it also contains antioxidants which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial effects? For more on the wonders of quinoa, read this article from the health food gurus at Holland & Barrett.
Use quinoa as a replacement for rice, couscous, bulgur wheat or pasta. Or stir it pre-cooked into soups for a hearty kick.
Oily fish such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel all contain an array of health-supporting nutrients like protein, healthy fats, potassium, selenium and B vitamins. They’re also one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to help reduce inflammation and lower the risk of heart disease and strokes. No wonder the NHS advises a healthy, balanced diet should include at least 2 portions of fish a week, including 1 of oily fish.
If you want to preserve the health benefits of these superfoods remember fish that is steamed, baked or grilled is a healthier choice than fried fish. For more on serving fish in your mobile catering van, It has lots of advice on serving fish as well as important food safety tips, too.
Poor food safety can potentially be very harmful to customers, but also disastrous for your business. That’s why you need catering public liability insurance in place to complement your catering van insurance.
The foodie press is always heralding a new superfood that you simply must add to your stock cupboard. Last year it was the turn of seaweed to get the must-eat treatment.
These nutrient-dense sea vegetables are popular in Asian cuisine, and are proving popular in street food markets all over the world. Packing in nutrients like folic acid, vitamin K, fibre and iodine they’re delicious and boast that all-important umami flavour. Add them to soups and stir-fries or crush them over dishes as a seasoning in place of salt.
In a similar way to nuts, despite their small size, seeds are packed full to bursting with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, healthy fats, fibre and protein. You can use them in all manner of ways whether adding to smoothies or puddings, sprinkled over dishes or added into baking.
Some of the most popular seeds include:
- Sunflower seeds
- Chia seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Flax seeds
One of the most famous and nutrient-rich of all superfoods is undoubtedly the bright blue-green spirulina. Another superfood derived from algae, it has vitamin B12, vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, iodine, and iron.
As well as supporting heart health, immune function, Spirulina is also a great source of protein, antioxidants, healthy fats, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus. It’s also rich in iron and magnesium which are essential for energy release.
With its interesting colour and slightly bitter taste, you won’t want to add too much.
Many of our favourite spices have been shown to have uses well beyond offering great flavour. For example, turmeric has been shown to offer anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It might even reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, and help with anxiety. Add some into scrambled eggs for a super spicy twist.
Made from the Triticum aestivum plant, wheatgrass comes is usually consumed as a fresh juice and is regarded as a super potent health food with amazing benefits. As well as offering antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties it also contains iron, calcium, magnesium, amino acids, vitamins A, C, E, K, and B complex. It’s usually added to juices and smoothies. Although it could be great in , too!
Catering van insurance from Mobilers
Keeping your menu fresh and up to date is all part and parcel of running a successful mobile catering business, just like having the right catering van insurance.
Call us today for a quick quote and protect your livelihood for the year ahead.
Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.