Perhaps you have encountered laver seaweed wrapped around your favourite sushi roll, but the first group may catch you by surprise if you aren’t familiar with cuisines that have traditionally cooked with algae, which range from Japanese to Welsh. These sea growing plants are critical for oxygen production and are rich in essential fatty acids, phytochemicals/antioxidants, and savoury umami flavour. Try topping your next salad with lightly fried wakame seaweed for a salty crunch.
Beans & Pulses
These members of the legume family are a smart choice for farmers because they convert nitrogen in a way that helps other crops grow. They are a smart choice for eaters because they are nutritious and delicious! Try swapping black turtle beans for ground beef in a stew or add lentils to your next burger mix for a protein-packed sandwich with lots of fibre and flavour.
More than just cute home décor, the cactus has long been featured in Mexican cuisine. Nopales, or prickly pears, are drought resistant and full of minerals, fibre and antioxidants. Use them to add fresh flavour to salads, smoothies, and more! Try adding nopales to your favourite salsa recipe.
Cereals & Grains
Grains are staple foods across the globe, but our global reliance on rice and wheat limits the nutrients we get with our carbohydrates and restricts food systems in a way that can be detrimental to the environment. Treat yourself to something new, like spelt or finger millet, both mineral-rich ancient grains with a nutty flavour that can take the place of rice. Wild rice, which is actually a seed, can be popped on the stove for a nutritious version of popcorn.
You’ve been told to eat your fruits and vegetables, but what about your fruit vegetables? These are fruits that are generally mistaken for vegetables. Tomato is a familiar one, but try an orange tomato for a slightly sweeter flavour and almost twice as much vitamin A. Try pairing them with okra, another fruit vegetable. Season and sauteé okra and orange tomatoes in olive oil for a delicious side dish.
Talk about a nutritional powerhouse! Leafy greens deliver fibre, vitamins, minerals, and a plethora of health benefits. Some, like spinach and kale, are already popular in salads and soups. Up your intake of those and keep the leafy green party going with mild, crunchy pak-choi or antioxidant-rich, peppery tasting watercress, or colourful red cabbage. Go to the Future 50 Foods section for cooking tips that can help you add, swap and create new recipes with the Future 50 Foods.
It’s not a party without fungi! Add meaty texture and savoury taste to stews, pastas, stir-fries, and sauces with an earthy tasting maitake or nutty, rich saffron milk cap mushroom. Savour the flavour and reap the nutritional benefits of vitamins, protein, and fibre.
Nuts & Seeds
Time to get nutty! While nuts and seeds feature throughout world cuisine, there are several underutilized varieties that can offer many nutritional, environmental, and flavourful benefits. Get your hands on hemp seeds, which can be added to sauces, salads, or baked goods, for a boost of protein, fibre, and good fats (omegas). Sesame seeds, another Future 50 seed, can be toasted and added to any side dish for a fragrant crunch.
Great things happen underground! Root veggies grow deep in the earth and emerge hardy and nutritious for us to enjoy at a time when warmer weather crops are unavailable. Black salsify is one lesser-known example, and it offers vitamin E, iron, and a sweet, parsnip-like flavour. Try it roasted as a side dish, or mashed in place of potato.
There are a variety of familiar foods that can double or triple in nutritional value when they are allowed to sprout before being eaten. For example, chickpeas are yummy and healthful, but when they are sprouted they become even crunchier and nuttier-tasting with more protein. (See the full Future 50 Foods report for tips to sprout them at home!)
Tubers are a valuable source of energy, but another category in which we do not take advantage of the huge variety available. Swap your usual sweet potato with ube, or purple yam, for a burst of colour and a boost of vitamin E. Look for lotus root to add a tangy crunch to your next stir-fry.
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