That was one word to me, for decades, from elementary school through my forty’s at least. For years growing up, we’d go to the local diner, The Golden Coach, or just “The Coach” for those in the know. But it could have been any restaurant. I barely needed to look at a menu. When the waitress came by, my mouth just went on automatic pilot.
“Cheeseburgerfriesandacoke” spilled out every time. And I was never disappointed.
Now, fast forward a couple of decades, and it’s all changed. These days, I never order a cheeseburger, never a Coke, and well, occasionally a fry.
A lot of foods that we BA50’s grew up with have in large part been shoved to the back burner, if they are even on the burner any more at all. Think about what our mothers served us growing up. Swanson Frozen TV dinners. Fruit cocktail. From a can. Same with vegetables. Remember that carrot and green bean combo?
Now, and for good reason I know, fresh is all the rage. Organic. Not processed. Super foods. And I am all in.
I am a real foodie. I love to cook. Entertaining my family and friends around my table is my favorite thing ever. I worked in a restaurant kitchen. I’ve been to cooking school. I follow a million food bloggers. So I am not a culinary neophyte. But still, the food world is crowded with ingredients that are new to me. That I wasn’t raised with. That I don’t know how to shop for. How to use. How to eat.
Chia seeds. Hemp seeds. Flax. Nutritional yeast. Liquid aminos. I ask you. Did your mother ever sprinkle nutritional yeast on your frozen dinner? Chia on your canned green beans? I think not.
But I want to embrace this new healthier way of eating, and I think, over the years, I’m doing a pretty good job. But I don’t really know what these new foods are, and so, as my title here asks, I go in search of the answer to my question, “What’s a Chia? What’s a Hemp?”
According to the Mayo Clinic, chia seeds are small round seeds that can be black, brown or white. They are harvested from a flowering plant in the mint family, and are native to parts of Mexico and Guatemala. You can add chia seeds to smoothies, juices, milk, yogurt, oatmeal, pancakes and more. They can be sprinkled on salads and cereal and baked in muffins and breads. Chia seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids and an excellent source of fiber. They can improve heart health, reduce cholesterol levels, promote intestinal health, help with weight loss and diabetes. Talk about a super food. Sounds like they can do everything but solve world peace.
Hemp seeds get the same glowing rap. According to Healthline, hemp seeds are seeds of the hemp plant, the same species as cannibis, but a different variety. Of course, they are highly nutritious, rich in healthy fats, protein and various minerals.
Ditto for flax. Also loaded with nutritional goodies and used in a million food preparations. Nutritional yeast? Healthline says it is a deactivated form of yeast full of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. It has a savory, cheesy flavor and can be added to a number of meals and snacks. Think of it as a substitute for grated parmesan or other cheeses.
Liquid amines is a gluten-free soy sauce, but what a name! Couldn’t they just say that?
I’m really trying. Over the past few years, I’ve bought all these ingredients and more, numerous times, and you can find them tucked into my pantry and fridge even now. Still, I have a hard time integrating these new-age foods into my regular repertoire. Perhaps our culinary brains are hardwired to the way we grew up. Old eating habits die hard.
But I am determined. The New Year is a good time to double down, so one of my resolutions is to incorporate more of these super foods into my day to day. Let’s see how I do.