Plant-based diet has been known as a trend rather than a mainstream diet for some time, and only in these recent years, it is acknowledged as one way to fight for the climate change. People feel the urge to switch their diet from carnivore based to plant-based for environmental reasons, also for health reasons. Certainly, there were so many debates on health benefits of plant-based meats, and many may feel plant-based diet is for vegetarians only, all the paradoxes we may read in the news, but study shows plant-based ingredients can provide vital nutrients. Natural fruits and vegetables have wonderful colours, interesting taste and textures, the debate of health benefits can be endless, I am looking deeper into three of these ingredients – Miso, Mushroom and Chia seeds and what are the health properties we can learn further?
Miso, originally from China, was introduced to Japan 1,300 years ago, it is most known as a national dish in Japan – Miso Soup (Misoshiru). Made from fermented soybeans, miso is rich in probiotics, “Probiotics are helpful live bacteria that are associated with a range of health benefits including reduced inflammation, healthy digestion, and supporting healthy immune system function” said Erica Ingraham a US registered dietician. It also contains numbers vitamins, B1, B2, B3, B5, vitamin K, enzyme, that are good for our nervous system and good gut health is renowned for mental and physical wellness. Furthermore, it is one of the most versatile fermented food that can be prepared in many ways, as the traditional miso soup, use the base for miso ramen, and in the recent year, western chefs love using miso as marinated sauce for cod or for grilled aubergine.
Mushrooms are edible fungus with over 2000 varieties, providing essential nutrients, contains protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and within the properties of antioxidants, mushrooms have selenium, vitamin C and choline, which helps fighting cancer, prevent Alzheimer, improving diabetes and maintain heart health. They are absolutely delicious, can be cooked in various ways, in fact almost every culture has its staple dish, I love a simple chicken mushroom soup and funghi spaghetti with fresh parsleys. A superfood that is often overlooked, because mushrooms are wildly available, with their mysterious properties that scientists can still discover further, even outside food, they can be made into sustainable textile and materials.
*image credit: National Geography (left) Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times (right)
Other famous edible fungus are truffles, seen as a super delicacy, they are much rarer to find, hard to grow, instead of growing above the ground, they grow underground, and they are seasonal and in high demand hence the price range is significant. The flavour is rather distinct, so either you love it or you hate it. I personally prefer mushrooms for everyday, they are very versatile, and delicious.
Chia Seeds – I first came across these wonders over 6 years ago, this powerful is more than a superfood, it is a functional food, meaning they offer benefits beyond their nutritional value. Don’t underestimate these small seeds, they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, protein, calcium, zinc, copper and more, one key benefits of Chia seeds are to prevent the development of various chronic diseases, promotes slow digestion and steady stream of energy. They are almost flavourless, gluten-free and vegan, therefore they truly become a trendy food for health-conscious crowd. It can be used to amplify salads, and one popular recipe is chia seeds pudding with fresh fruits.
These three ingredients have one similarity that is versatility for cooking, which made them even more interesting. The more I understand the nutritional facts of each plant-based ingredient, the more I agree that we don’t need meat to gain the nutrition, because there are plenty in the plant-based ingredients, that are delicious and can make meals even more appetising when we expertise in each flavour and texture combinations.
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