I always get slightly annoyed when I read articles about new or recently re-discovered superfoods. At one time, it was Green Tea, then it was Acai Berries…the list is almost endless. I get annoyed not because I don’t like these foods but because I don’t believe there is such thing as a “superfood,” and I think the whole concept is misleading.
According to a CNN report (www.cnn.com/2012/04/10/health/superfoodsweight-loss-diet/), the term “superfood” was coined by Dr. Steven Pratt in 2004. As the article states, “According to Pratt, a superfood has three qualifications: It has to be readily available to the public, it has to contain nutrients that are known to enhance longevity, and its health benefits have to be backed by peer-reviewed, scientific studies.” That may be, but ALL real foods have important nutrients, vitamins and minerals that benefit us and enhance longevity. Plus, we can’t really survive on superfoods alone. We need a balanced diet full of vegetables, fruit, whole grains and legumes, nuts, dairy, poultry, fish and meat.
The other problem with the idea of superfoods is that it is misleading because it gets people thinking in terms of specific nutrients, vitamins and/or minerals. Really, we should be thinking in terms of an overarching philosophy of eating not just about eating fats, vitamin C or magnesium. We need to eat a variety of nutrients – carbohydrates, proteins and fats – as well as a whole host of different vitamins and minerals (some more than others at different times). These nutrients, vitamins and minerals are found in different combinations in all vegetables, fruit, whole grains and legumes, nuts, dairy products, poultry, fish and meat.
Finally, each and every one of us is different. Our bodies have different constitutions and different needs. We live different lifestyles in different environmental conditions. And we evolve differently. So, we all need different foods at different times. I may benefit from Green Tea at a certain point in my life but not another. So, really we should approach our diet not with the question “How will what I eat today fill my body’s requirements for x or y nutrients or vitamins?” but with the question “What are the (real) foods that will provide the best nourishment for my body at this point in my life?”
Healthy eating is about being mindful of the food that nourishes us – how is it grown or produced, where is it coming from, how will it be prepared? As I’ve mentioned before, food provides nourishment on multiple levels – physical, emotional and energetic. That’s why when we think about food, we should think about nourishment as a whole, and not just individual nutrients. All, whole, real foods are superfoods because they all provide us with some form of nourishment.
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Sautéed Squash with Crisp Sage Leaves
My usual go-to with squash is to cook it in a soup or roast it with other root vegetables. The other day, I decided to try sautéing it. The addition of the crisp sage leaves is an obvious one (squash and sage are always a delicious combination). My family and I really enjoyed the result.
3 Tbsp. butter
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 Butternut or Kuri Squash, peeled and cut
into 1/2" cubes (you should have roughly 4-6 cups)
3/4 cup vegetable stock
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 Tbsp. olive oil
10-12 sage leaves
- 1. Melt butter in a large saute pan. Saute shallots until soft.
- 2. Add squash and saute until lightly browned on all sides, 8-10 minutes.
- 3. Add vegetable stock, lower heat, cover pan and cook until squash is soft and liquid is mostly evaporated, 5-7 minutes.
- 4. In a separate saute pan, heat olive oil. When hot, fry a few sage leaves at a time for 5-10 seconds. Do not leave them in for too long or they will burn.
- 5. Remove sage leaves with a slotted spoon and put on a paper towel. When all the leaves are fried, sprinkle with sea salt.
- 6. Garnish squash with sage leaves.