Ever wondered what those lesser known veggies and berries in the local market do except for tasting exotic? We all are well aware of the health and skin wonders generally found in the refrigerator’s vegetable section, but what about these unsung heroes that have literally a pool of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants! So perk your ears up fellas because this is definitely going to change your mind about i-don’t-eat-that foods!
1. Amaranth (Chaulai)
Botanical Name : Amaranthus
A very rich source of vitamin A, B6, K, C and calcium, potassium, magnesium, folate and especially manganese, this leafy bunch is surely a health mine. According to the latest researches, amaranth contains large amounts of protein that’s 30% more than wheat, rice, oats and equals that of milk! Infact it is a well established fact that amaranth is one of the very few plant protein sources that has a complete set of all 16 amino acids.
It means having a serving of amaranth provides you the essential daily intake of protein and much more. The oil content in amaranth leaves have shown the properties of preventing and curing hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. And now the most amazing benefit of including this super veggie in your diet : it prevents premature greying of hair and if applied directly in the roots of hair, can darken the color of hair. Here is a recipe to make your own amaranth salad which will delight your taste buds as well as provide you with all the nutrients you can possibly imagine.
Tabbouleh Style Amaranth Salad
1½ cups cold water
½ cup uncooked amaranth
2 cups diced unpeeled English cucumber
½ cup thinly sliced celery
½ cup finely chopped red onion
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
½ cup chickpeas
1 cup (4 ounces) feta cheese, crumbled
Lemon wedges (optional)
Bring 1 1/2 cups cold water and amaranth to a boil in a medium saucepan; reduce heat, cover, and simmer 20 minutes or until water is almost absorbed (it will have the appearance of mush).
While amaranth cooks, combine cucumber and the next 11 ingredients in a large bowl.
Place amaranth in a sieve, and rinse under cold running water until room temperature; drain well, pressing with the back of a spoon. Add to cucumber mixture; toss to blend. Add cheese; toss gently. Garnish with lemon wedges, if desired.
2. Phalsey or Falsey
Botanical Name : Grewia Asiatica
This amazingly delicious summer fruit is quite popular across the middle-east and south asia for its sweet and sour flavour. Highly rich in potassium, this fruit is also a good source of vitamin C, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and lots of fibre. Even the peel of this fruit contains antioxidants in abundance which is essential to make your skin healthy and radiant. With around 80% content of water, this exotic fruit makes your skin well hydrated alongwith purifying your blood.
It also contains beta carotene that protects your delicate skin against harmful radiations. If all these facts did not make you dash to the nearest grocery market, i don’t know what will. One thing that needs to be clarified here is that phalsey often gets confused with blueberries since they look similar. Yes, they belong to the same botanical family but are hugely different.
1½ cup fresh phalsey pulp
½ cup cold water
6 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon crushed mint leaves
½ cup crushed ice
Mix first five ingredients in mixer. Serve with crushed ice.
3. Bell peppers
Botanical Group Name : Capsicum Annuum
Also known as capsicum in various households, you surely would have heard about bell peppers that come in vibrant colors. Enriched with vitamin C and beta carotene, bell peppers’ inclusion in your diet will give you that pinky youthful appearance. It is also a fount of vitamin A which keeps you safe from vision loss and macular degeneration (loss of vision due to aging). Here’s more. Bell peppers also contain naturally occured silicon which is an essential component for healthy and shiny hair. All that abundance of vitamin A and vitamin C has some really astounding health benefits – reverse the aging factors, anti cancer properties and first rate immunity system! You’d better start giving these bells some extra space in your plate other than salad decorating.
Bell Pepper Salad
3 sliced red, yellow and/or orange bell peppers
2 garlic cloves
½ teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon olive oil
½ teaspoon of lemon juice
some chopped parsley (as per taste)
salt (as per taste)
½ black pepper
Saute 2 smashed garlic cloves and 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds in a skillet with olive oil over medium-high heat, 30 seconds. Add 3 sliced red, yellow and/or orange bell peppers and cook until just warmed through. Toss with the juice of 1/2 lemon, some chopped parsley, and salt and pepper.
Botanical Name : Solanum Melongena
Call it extreme unfortune that my favourite vegetable has been neglected all along by not only my family but most of the indian households because the hindi name for eggplant is ‘baingun’, which means useless! Whoever subjected this delicious veggie to such a poor name must be turning in grave because as per recent studies this self crowned purple beauty is a must-eat food for its high vitamin B1, copper, iron, calcium and folate content.
A one cup serving of eggplant will fulfill your daily requirement of most of the nutrients. It is also an ideal food for those who want to cut on the calories as eggplant is a low-calorie no-fat food and its high fibre content makes you feel full in just one serving. Now to all the beauties, try to include eggplant in your essential foods list as this contains huge levels of phytonutrients and phenolic compounds which are reknown antioxidants which render your skin spotless and vibrant! All those antioxidants alongwith the potassium content in eggplants if eaten regularly, will help you get that blemish free and crystalline complexion you crave for.
Chinese Eggplant Fries
2 eggplants, peeled and sliced into fries
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
2 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste
1. In a shallow bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper. Place the eggs in a separate bowl.
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. A few at a time, dip the eggplant pieces into the egg, then into the flour mixture, then back into the egg, and back into the flour mixture. Fry the eggplant in the hot oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels, and serve immediately.
5. Cantaloupe (Musk-Melon)
Botanical Name : Cucumis Melo
This lovely summer fruit has not been given enough credit in the beauty store it really deserves. This fleshy musk-melon is also known as cantaloupe, rock melon, sweet melon, etc across the globe and is the most mineral-rich fruit according to the latest researches. A mine of vitamin K, vitamin C and vitamin E, cantaloupes have all the essentials of giving your skin a healthy radiant glow. And let me point out, these vitamins are a powerhouse for younger looking and freckle-free skin.
It also hydrates and rejuvenates your skin due to high water content. Cantaloupes also comprise of vitamin A and beta-carotines that lessens the dark circles around your eyes as well as improving the health of retina. More good news? cantaloupes are also low in calories and very high in fibre, thus helping to control your weight!
1/2 cantaloupe – peeled, seeded and cubed
1/2 teaspoon lime juice
2 tablespoons sugar
In a blender combine all the first three ingredients and blend until smooth. Pour into glasses and serve with crushed ice.