15 Weird but Wonderful Foods

by Rosanne Ullman | July 19, 2015

Does “eating well” mean “eating boring”? It’s easy to feel that you can’t look at one more kale salad, the novelty of grilled salmon wore off long ago and kiwi and pomegranate are best appreciated in a colorful cocktail. You already use every spice on your shelf, you’ve switched from spaghetti to quinoa and, try as you might, you can’t live on 85% cacao dark chocolate. What to do?


Don’t give up and go back to dinners of Doritos and Coke. Instead, climb up to the next level of cuisine adventure! You may not have even heard of some of these foods—and some are more for sprinkling into smoothies than eating on their own—but try them just to switch it up a little.


In alphabetical order:


Algae. Yes, you can eat algae! You may have to go to a health food store to find spirulina, a blue-green algae that studies show may boost the immune system to reduce the risk of catching a cold or the flu. 


Bee pollen. About 40% protein and rich in folic acid, bee pollen is great for hairdressers because a teaspoon in a midday smoothie will stretch your stamina and fight afternoon fatigue.


Beets. High levels of nitrites open blood vessels to increase the body’s blood flow and the oxygen to the brain, helping you to stay as sharp for your last client as your first of the day. 


Bone broth. When made from animal bones, broth provides collagen which, as hairdressers well know, builds cells, bones and ligaments. Broth has been shown to improve memory, aid sleep and relieve symptoms of auto-immune disorders.


Celery. The well-known joke—and it’s true—is that chewing celery uses up more calories than you’re getting from the stalk. Celery is the source of so many nutrients that it’s considered one of the most beneficial foods you can eat. Consider it a must-have salad ingredient. 


Chia seeds. Packed with fiber, protein and omega 3 fatty acids to oil the body, chia seeds hydrate while helping to control blood sugar levels. 


Goji Berries. A chewy cross between a cranberry and a cherry, a tiny goji berry packs a punch of antioxidants, and some research indicates that the berry’s sugars may help to reduce insulin resistance, a risk factor of diabetes.


Guava. The plant food with a higher concentration of lycopene than even tomatoes and watermelon, guava also contains more potassium than a medium-sized banana as well as tons of fiber.


Kefir. This fermented dairy beverage—sort of yogurt in a glass—supplies you with probiotics and nearly a third of your daily calcium. 


Lentils. Stuffed into each little cooked lentil is a big helping of protein and dietary fiber, along with some iron and folate. Add lentils to salads, soups and your favorite sauce.


Maca. This root belonging to the radish family comes in a powder and is good for alleviating cramps, anxiety and depression while boosting stamina. 


Pumpkin seeds. These seeds’ protein, omega fatty acids, B vitamins, zinc, magnesium and tryptophan add up to keep your mood even and your mind focused while possibly extending your life span. Sunflower seeds and flax seeds are similarly good options.


Purslane. Ignore the FDA’s classification of purslane as a weed! Add it to a salad because it has up to 20 times more cancer-inhibiting melatonin than other vegetables.


Sardines. Avoid the toxins of fish that are higher up the food chain by choosing sardines, rich in vitamin D, calcium (when the bones are in) and omega-3 fats.


Swiss chard. Sauté this leafy green to obtain a good dose of carotenoids, which keep your eyes’ retinas youthful.

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