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Plantain Flour, Spirulina & Other Uncommon Foods To Add To Your Diet

Wellness

Question. When's the last time you tried something new? Next question. When's the last time that new thing was food-related? The reason why I'm asking is because there really are a lot of benefits that come from doing something that you've never done before. It alleviates boredom. It exposes you to different things. It helps you to evolve as a person. Because it involves a certain amount of risk, it boosts your self-confidence and self-esteem. It also gives you a taste of more of what life has to offer (pun intended in this case).


Speaking of taste, there are even good reasons to try foods that you never have before; reasons that I bet you've never even thought about. It can grow your palate. It can get—or keep—you excited about cooking. It can expose you to different food histories and cultures. It can give you access to other ways to take care of your health and well-being. And of course, most of all, it can provide great content for your IG page.

Now that (hopefully) I've gassed you up to step outside of the same ole' aisle at the same ole' grocery stores, here are some foods that, I would love for you to hit up the comment section to let me know if you've tried them before (if you have, it'd be super cool if you shared a recipe or two!). All of them are semi-unique, all of them are really good for you, and all of them are worth adding to your "something new list" if you've never heard of them before. Are you ready to introduce your taste buds to something different?

1. Plantain Flour

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If you're already a lover of plantains, you may have heard of plantain flour before being that it's a dry pulverized form of plantains. One thing that's really cool about flour that's in this form is the fact that it's got less calories than the standard all-purpose flour. Some other reasons to give plantain flour a shot is it's got a good amount of protein, fiber, magnesium, potassium, iron and vitamins A and C in it. Plus, thanks to the Vitamin B6 that it contains, plantain flour can help to boost brain power. Also, since it's loaded with antioxidants, plantain flour is able to keep your immune system strong while reducing free radicals too. Oh, and if you ever get ulcers that are caused by aspirin, it can help to heal those as well.

Believe it or not, plantain flour is something that you can find at Walmart. Or, if you want a gluten-free brand, you can get some on Amazon or the kosher kind here. As far as how to use the flour, introduce it to your taste buds with this plantain flour corn muffins recipe.

2. Spirulina

OK, I'm gonna shoot it straight to you. Spirulina is a blueish-green algae—yes, algae—that technically qualifies as a superfood because of how nutritious it is. It's got calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, folate, vitamins A, B6, K and C. As far as its health benefits, spirulina improves gut health, manages diabetes, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels and boosts metabolism. It should go on record that spirulina isn't FDA-regulated (you can get tips to make sure you get it in its peak form here). Still, you can Google how many sites sings its praises nonetheless.

Some people take it in powder form (so they can add it to their juice or smoothies), but spirulina is also available as a tea.

3. Cherimoya

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Cherimoya is a type of fruit that Mark Twain once referred to as being "deliciousness itself". It's also known as a custard apple and is compared to tasting like a banana, mango and pineapple. Cherimoya is the kind of fruit that is high in antioxidants, Vitamin B6 and the carotenoid antioxidant lutein. Health-wise, snacking on these can improve your vision, boost your mood, fight inflammation, strengthen immunity, plus this fruit has the flavonoids catechin, epicatechin, and epigallocatechin—all of which contain cancer-fighting properties.

This is a fruit that you can find at Whole Foods. If you want some tips on how to prepare it, how about trying some raw cherimoya custard or a cherimoya almond cake?

4. Amaranth

A gluten-free grain (that tastes a lot like brown rice) that's pretty good for you is amaranth. If you're a vegetarian or vegan, it's an awesome source of protein. People with arthritis and fibromyalgia symptoms like it because it contains powerful anti-inflammatory properties. The calcium that's found in this grain will strengthen your teeth and bones. And, if you have diabetes, the manganese in it will assist in keeping your diabetes under control.

This is the kind of grain that you should be able to easily find at your local grocery store or Whole Foods. As far as how to prepare it, some people like to sprinkle amaranth into their soup or stew. Or you can turn it into a porridge and have it for breakfast.

5. Celeriac Root

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Celeriac root—also known as celery root—is a vegetable that isn't the most common one on the planet yet, slowly but surely, it is gaining in popularity. Since it's a root vegetable, celeriac root's "close cousins" with parsnips and parsley. It has a ton of Vitamin K in it (51 percent of your daily supply per serving) along with vitamins B6, C, phosphorus, potassium and manganese. Thanks to the Vitamin K and potassium that's in it, celeriac root is good for your heart. Vitamin K is good for your bones as well. Plus, the fiber that's in celeriac root aids in digestion.

Whole Foods usually has this veggie in stock. As far as recipes go, celery root and apple soup or mashed celeriac root and potatoes are good ways to ease into it.

6. Bee Propolis

OK, this is the kind of food that you'll probably prefer not knowing what it's made of, but because of all of the benefits that it contains, it's still worth giving a shot regardless. So, what's in it? It's a combination of beeswax and bee saliva. That's kind of gross, I know. But hear me out about why it still made the list.

Bee propolis contains 300 natural compounds including amino acids, polyphenols and even 10 percent essential oils. There are hundreds of studies about how it's a great natural treatment for cancer, oral candidiasis, HSV-1 (herpes that creates cold sores), parasites and even relieving symptoms that are related to endometriosis-related infertility. I don't know about you, but all of this is worth putting up with a little bee spit.

Bee propolis is something else that you can take in supplement form. Or, you can get honey that's infused with it and use it like you would any other kind of honey that you already have.

7. Jicama

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Jicama is a vegetable that has a brown papery skin but is a white starch when you cut it open. As far as the texture of it goes, a lot of people say that it's a cross between a potato and pear; it even has a nutty/sweet taste to it. Jicama has iron, magnesium and potassium in it, but what it contains a really impressive amount of is Vitamin C (around 44 percent of your reference daily intake); this means it's a food that contains tons of antioxidants. Jicama boosts heart health, helps to prevent cancer and will keep your gut healthy.

A great thing about this particular food is you can prepare it all sorts of ways—you can cut it up raw and add it to your salad, use it as an ingredient in your stir fry or add it to a fruit salad. The produce section of your grocery store should care it, along with your local farmer's market. Mexican grocery stores oftentimes have Jicama too.

8. Teff

If you ever go to an Ethiopian restaurant and mention teff, they are going to know exactly what you're talking about because that's where it originates from. Although some people consider teff to be a grain, teff is technically a seed. It provides 25 percent of the protein that your body needs on a daily basis, plus it's packed with fiber, magnesium, zinc, calcium, potassium, copper and vitamins B6 and C. Some benefits of teff is it increases blood circulation, strengthens your immune system, relieves PMS, makes your bones stronger, and it's also a gluten-free food.

As far as how to prepare it, a lot of people enjoy it as a homemade bread or a stack of pancakes. Just keep in mind that as a bread, it's more like a flatbread with a slightly sour taste.

9. Dragon Fruit

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Dragon fruit is an exotic type of cactus fruit that tastes like a hybrid of watermelon, kiwi and cactus pear. It contains a good amount of magnesium and fiber, along with vitamin A and C. Something that's particularly cool about dragon fruit is it has a lot of antioxidants in it, including betalains that reduce oxidative stress and even suppress cancer cells. Other health benefits that come from eating this sweet fruit includes the fact that it keeps your gut healthy, fights off free radicals and boosts low iron levels. It's in season from late summer through December. Oh and, just to be fair, it's not the cheapest fruit on the planet but it is delicious.

There are specialty markets that carry dragon fruit or you can find some online on sites like Melissa's.

10.  Ashwagandha Tea

Something that's a huge health trend right now is Ayurveda (a word that means "the science of life" in Sanskrit). An herb that is highly respected when it comes to this approach to holistic health is ashwagandha. What does it mean? "The smell of horses" in Sanskrit. That's a heads up that it doesn't smell the best, but it is good for you. Ashwagandha can lower your blood sugar levels, keep your cortisol in check, reduce depression symptoms, increase muscle mass and even improve fertility levels in men.

You can also take this as a supplement, but a lot of people prefer to drink in tea form. You can get some organic ashwagandha tea here and make a delicious beverage with it here.

11.  Honorable Mention: Pearl Powder

Something that's considered to be a "superfood of the sea" is pearl powder. It's packed with calcium, zinc, copper, selenium, magnesium, antioxidants and amino acids (including Tyrosine and Lysine) that will make your skin glow and can even help to regenerate bone tissue. Something else that pearl powder does is raise the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain so that you can feel calm and relaxed. Some health professionals even believe that it's tied to longevity.The best way to consume pearl powder is to purchase the powder and put a teaspoon of it per day into your smoothies or the foods that you are planning to bake. Or, for a strawberry iced latte recipe with pearl powder in it, click here. Enjoy!

Featured image by Getty Images

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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