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Meet seiten...and other plant-based superfoods

Welcome to vegcurious – the blog for people who are curious about plant-based eating.


Superfoods – a definition

Most of us think of a superfood as one that is loaded with nutrients and possesses some supernatural power to transform us or our body chemistry. Think about the oat bran craze circa 1990s. It was touted to cure everything from high cholesterol to hair loss! Or, acai berries that are said to perform many miracles including…well, everything! But, for the purposes of this blog, what I mean by a plant-based superfood is one that fits into one, or more, of the following categories:

1.       Provides superior nutritional value per serving

2.       Is versatile and can be used to create lots of different meals from breakfast to dinner and even snacks

3.       Is so delicious that you can be confident that your nonvegan friends will enjoy it, too

So, knowing my criteria, here are my favourite plant-based superfoods:


Seiten

Being a vegan comes with some perks. Like, for example, watching the expression on your friends’ faces when you talk about how much you love seiten! Joking aside…seiten is good. In fact, seiten is one of many plant-based superfoods.


Seiten falls firmly into category #2 and a bit of #3. Seiten is extremely versatile, and I know a lot of nonvegans who love it…but also a few who don’t care for its chewy texture. I personally love the “meaty” mouthfeel of seiten and one of my all-time favourite dinners is made with this humble ingredient.

"What starts out as a simple wheat gluten, can be magically transformed into almost anything!"

The many faces of seiten

(Still makes me giggle!) What starts out as a simple wheat gluten, can be magically transformed into almost anything from chicken tenders and burgers to roasts and even bacon and ribs! It’s all about the seasoning, shaping, and cooking method. Check out some of the most popular ways to enjoy seiten.




Nutritional yeast

Ding…ding…ding!!! This one hits all three requirements for being called a superfood! In fact, it might just be the most super of plant-based superfoods. The only thing that’s not super about nutritional yeast is its name. “Nutritional yeast” sounds like something you might be forced to endure as a child for its health benefits, but I am here to assure you that nutritional yeast, or “nooch” as it is affectionally called by those who love it, is absolutely delicious!

"This one hit all three requirements for being called a superfood!"

A powerhouse of nutrition, at home in everything from soup to salad and pasta to baked goods, no self-respecting vegan would be caught without a big bag of these flakes of gold in their cupboard at all times. You can read all about nutritional yeast in my blog dedicated to this one superfood, but in a nutshell, just two little teaspoons of these slightly nutty, slightly cheesy, flakes delivers an unbelievable 313% of your daily value (DV) of B12, a stunning 246% of B2, a whopping 212% of B6, a respectable109% of B3, and if you’re looking for some folate (B9), stay right here and enjoy a delicious 59% of your DV.



Chia seeds

Another home run! Chia seeds are small black seeds that come from the Salvia hispanica plant which is found in Mexico. They don’t have a whole lot of taste on their own, which is one of their superpowers. Chia seeds can be tossed into everything from your breakfast oatmeal and pancake batter to smoothies and creamy dessert pudding.

"Nutritionally speaking, chia seeds punch way above their teeny tiny weight!"

Nutritionally speaking, chia seeds punch way above their teeny tiny weight! Along with being a good source of minerals like calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium, they are also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and get top points for both fibre and protein!



Flax

Flax is available in the form of seeds, ground, roasted or as an oil, and because of this it hits criteria #2, being versatile, with full force! It also meets criteria #1 by providing superior nutritional value but I think, personally, it falls a bit short of criteria #3. Flax, to me, has a very specific taste and people either like or don’t, but you can’t pretend it’s not there.


Let’s talk about the nutritional values of flax cause there’s a whole lot to talk about. First, there’s fibre. Just two tablespoons of flax seed will deliver a whopping 6 grams of fibre which is about 25 of the RDI for women and 15% for men. Flax also provides a good amount of protein and is one of the best plant-based sources of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Sprinkle in some thiamine, copper, magnesium, phosphorus and molybdenum and you have a very healthy ingredient to add to baked goods, including banana bread, oatmeal, your morning smoothie and lots of other plant-based yummies!



I hope this blog has helped you find your way to plant-based eating. Remember…the goal is not to be perfect. Do the best you can and enjoy the journey! Sign up for vegcurious to be delivered right to your inbox at vegcurious.ca.


Note: It is strongly recommended that you consult with your primary care physician before making any changes to your diet. This blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended to recommend or endorse any particular product, diet or eating plan.


Next post: Matt Ruscigno, Registered Dietitian, talks about overcoming stumbling blocks to plant-based eating.


 

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