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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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