I get asked this a lot — What is “superfood”? This nutritional buzzword gets thrown around a lot in the food scene and almost everything is labelled a “superfood” these days. At best, it’s a nutrient powerhouse. At worst, the labelling is superfluous, overhyped by marketing ingenuity. In fact, the EU has banned the use of the term on food labels unless manufacturers can prove their health claims. To date, there is still no scientific or formally agreed-upon definition, but we can generally take “superfood” to refer to nutritionally dense food. My main gripe with this term is that very often, people take that as a passport to consume junk food just because they have included portions of “superfood” in their everyday diet. Even more dangerously, the health claims of certains foods are exaggerated and so bloated by unethical marketing gimmicks that we fail to see the fillers, the preservatives, the flavour enhancers — the nasties in the “goodies”!
So I have dedicated this month’s SouperChef Specials to SouperFoods, my humble but hopefully helpful way to bring to attention the need to be informed and discerning in our choice of foods! The bottomline is that there is no magic in a single food. In other words, there is no perfect food. Our bodies need a variety of nutrients and to keep healthy eating a sustainable lifestyle, we should consume a good mix of whole foods, as natural and unprocessed as possible. Each of our SouperChef Specials this month features a souperfood ingredient that stands up to nutritional scrutiny, but they are by no means the only attributes of our soups. In fact, you’ll find our other specially chosen ingredients just as impressively nutritious and flavourful! Bringing everything into the mix makes for balanced eating and this should be what superfoods are used for — in moderation, in harmony, in line with your needs. From the world to our kitchen to you, may we be wisely skeptical and eat souper with our Souperfoods this April!
Brazilian Black Bean Beef Stew
In Brazil, the dish to have is feijoada (fay-zwah-da). The word feijoada comes from the word feijão, which is Portuguese for beans. Feijoada is a black bean stew that is brewed with a variety of salted and smoked pork and beef products from carne-seca to smoked pork spare ribs. The rich, smoky stew is then served with rice, sautéed collard greens or kale, orange slices and topped with toasted cassava flour (farofa). In essence, feijoada is Brazilian soul food, food of the people. As most of you know, I eat meat-free most of the time. But I find it hard to resist feijoada! Our version is a bold attempt to adjust the recipe slightly to make it with lean beef cubes. What might look like a plate of inky purples and black is a symphony of velvety meat, creamy beans and lots of texture from quinoa and red rice!
Here, we feature one of Brazilians’ favourite foods — black beans! A rich source of fibre and folate, great for blood circulation due to its high iron concentration, black beans are also found to lower risk of type 2 diabetes, many types of cardiovascular diseases and even certain types of cancer. In 2006, the Food Guide for the Brazilian Population recommended that beans be consumed at least once every day! Every Brazilian I met during my 2016 trip regardless of ancestry and background told me their daily staple is rice and beans. Enjoy them in this rich and unique stew!
Chicken Broccoli Red Rice Stew
This SouperChef Special is a sweet reminder that even the simplest of homecooked meals can be a souperstar in its own right. I cooked this a lot during my university days — stir-fried broccoli with chicken, mushrooms and tomatoes served over rice. It was a simple one-dish meal but it provided so much sustenance and comfort. So I recreated it as a hearty stew with a few minor touch-ups, upping the nutrient quotient using red unpolished rice!
Red rice derives its royal russet hue from anthocyanin and besides looking mightily pretty in any dish, this variant of rice presumably packs a punch of nutrients! As a whole grain that retains the entire grain seed, including the germ, bran and endosperm, red rice is an excellent source of fibre and iron, thus aiding digestion and improving oxygen level to elevate mood and energy. With a lower glycemic index than the other variants, red rice controls sugar level better and the bran keeps you satiated for longer. The powerful bran can also help in reducing cholesterol level! This is a souper bowl indeed. Try it today with our housemade salted herb pesto!
Soulful Vegan Chilli with Quinoa
Some of you may have known from my Instagram posts that I have recently gone dairy-free and thoroughly enjoying it! I’ve also always loved my vegetables more than my meat so as a recipe developer, I relish the challenge of creating a dish that packs an incredible amount of mind-blowing flavour without the use of any meat or dairy! You are going to love this vegan recipe, a lovely alternative to the traditional chilli con carne, packed with good stuff, full of soulful flavour and hearty enough to eat as a meal! Satisfy your nutrient needs with roasted sweet potatoes, zucchini, tofu and beans, simmered slowly with chillies, cumin and paprika in a smoky tomato-based soup.
And wait, there’s also quinoa! A humble grain crop grown mainly for its seeds, it has achieved almost a cult-like following in the recent decade amongst health enthusiasts and recipe creators. Long touted as a superfood with high fibre, a complete protein containing all essential amino acids, quinoa has become intuitively synonymous with weight loss. It’s also gluten-free and rich in antioxidants, a great complement to the other nutritional giants in this soup. I particularly love the mild nutty flavour and bite quinoa lends to this dish. Enjoy the soup topped with sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, chopped spring onions, tortilla chips and a squeeze of lime! Feel souper from inside out!