Food

The banana blossom is now a super food

Traditional Vietnamese banana blossom salad, made with shredded banana flowers, vegetables, mint, chili peppers, and chicken, served in a banana flower petal.   | Photo Credit: sbossert

The fresh blossom that has just appeared on the vaazha (plantain tree) in your backyard may or may not make it to your dinner plate, but it sure has made it to one of the largest supermarket chains in the UK. The banana blossom will soon be dished out as “ready meals” for those who are looking at meat-free alternatives. Called kodappan and vazhapoo, the banana flower with its deep purple colour and leathery petals, it turns out, is a delicious substitute for fish. The unique texture and piquant taste make it an ideal replacement.

Vegans, flexitarians, and food evangelists the world over are in search of alternative, sustainable food options that can provide nourishment and weigh lighter on the conscience. And the banana flower, rich in iron, proteins, a bouquet of vitamins, and fibre, could well be the next big super-food.

The next Quinoa

Close on the heels of super-stardom is the moringa, which emerged as one of the top nutritive foods in 2018. Think beyond the leaf curry and you have them as energy bars or smoothies blended with dried moringa powder. The Time Magazine even called it the ‘next quinoa’. Though used in every household, the moringa is often underestimated. Every part of the tree has health benefits—leaf, flower, roots and fruit. It is rich in calcium and Vitamin E and other minerals and is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties as well. The Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids that it contains, makes it a niche ingredient in the beauty industry—from body butters to primers, cleansing balms, oils, shampoos and even body mists.

The banana blossom is now a super food
 

“We have moved on from ‘eat organic’ to ‘eat local’. Traditionally, we have always been doing that, but not any more. We need to rethink what constitutes food,” says Manoj Kumar IB, a raw food advocate and planter of fruit forests. The rather under-appreciated jackfruit, he says, for instance, was catapulted into sudden limelight in 2018, only after the Kerala government declared it as the official State fruit. In the global food scene, however, it was already steadily gathering steam as a vegan dream come true. It lent to their palates a fulfilling smorgasbord—from burgers to pizzas and meatballs not to mention cakes, smoothies, and coffee.

An “entirely organic” and pesticide-free label made things easier for the jack, which can actually add ten years to your life, says Jose Varkey, a jackfruit expert and Corporate Mentor Chef for the Wellness Division of cghearth. “It is one of the most commonly available of fruits, with some of the most uncommon health benefits. It has detoxifying abilities owing to its fibre content, is ideal for diabetics because of its low glycemic index and that is just to graze the tip of the ice berg.” Varkey has been researching the jackfruit for the past seven years, and believes it to be a powerhouse of nutrients. “Traditionally a chakkapuzhukku (a thick gravy made of raw jackfruit) has all the nutrients intact because it is not over-cooked. Today, of course, you could possibly make anything out of it. It’s actually about going back to the roots.”

The banana blossom is now a super food
 

Turmeric and immunity

While on roots, the turmeric has been clinging to its super-food status for a while now. A turmeric latte will no longer raise eyebrows, but those who were only used to having turmeric in their curries have now begun adding it to their daily glass of milk. However, there is no need to get carried away by the ‘super-food’ hype, cautions Varkey: “Turmeric has curcumin, which is not easily absorbed by the body. So, I add a bit of pepper powder, which helps in the absorption. It has excellent anti-inflammatory properties and can refine our immune systems.”

The banana blossom is now a super food
 

Coconut oil became a global sensation and was considered to have the ability to prevent and even cure Alzheimer’s Disease. Cold-pressed, virgin coconut oil went into daily morning cuppas and it was even drunk plain. Superfood tags may come and go, studies may prove and disprove the qualities of a certain food, says Sudakshna Thampi, yoga practitioner, and a raw-food enthusiast: “Anything that is unprocessed and locally grown has to be good for us. As long as we eat local, as our ancestors did, and are mindful of what goes into our plate, that is our super food. We have to observe and understand from our eating habits, evolving a diet that is sustainable and best-suited for us.”


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Printable version | Jan 27, 2022 9:28:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/locally-grown-globally-appreciated-super-foods/article26742899.ece

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