My host mom's favorite ingredients when cooking are grease, oil, and butter. While the first two weeks felt like a dream munching on fried chicken, puree, and greasy potatoes, two months and I'm almost crying from not having a regular dose of vegetables, grains, and protein at dinner. What's a girl to do?
Insert the natural foods stores that are sprinkled amongst shops and tiendas in Buenos Aires. As the European city of South America, Buenos Aires is keeping up with Hollywood's natural foods craze. Since lunch isn't provided by my host family, I too have been swept up in the magic of whole grains, fiber, and natural dietary supplements in order to counteract the unhealthy dinners and let's be honest- night time drinking activities. Here's a brief breakdown on what I've discovered, and what these foods can do for you!!
Behold the motherload of all seeds. I cooked quinoa for the first time in a hostel down in Patagonia, and now I don't think I'm ever going back. Not only did it give me the most satisfying full- you know those moments when you're so full from your mom's cooking and can pass out instantly because you're so content with life? That was my experience with quinoa.
It's packed with protein, (a 4 ounce serving will provide a child's daily protein intake!!) calcium, and those ever-sought-after omega-3 fatty acids. It's prepared very similar to rice with a cook time of 15-18 minutes on a stove.
The best part is that quinoa can be pretty much eaten with anything you're craving. Avocados and tomatoes? Check. Blueberries and pears? Check. Tossed with a salad to add an extra texture? Bingo. Heck, just browse Pinterest's "Food and Drink" column and it will be hard not to find a delicious AND healthy meal that doesn't include quinoa.
Yes. Ch-ch-ch-chia as in the commercialized plant of the 90s. Believe it or not, Chia seeds used to be the main source of energy for the Aztec and Mayan diets.
It's super rich in antioxidants (hello Sunday mornings), omega-3s, and fiber- so rich that when mixed with water and allowed to sit for 30 minutes, ta gel forms around the outside of the seed. This same reaction supposedly takes place in your stomach, slowing the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar in your system- qué bueno!
As far as taste, it has a nutty-like flavor, enabling it to be added to pretty much anything from baked goods or fresh yogurts. It took my classmates a month or so to discover this hidden gem, and now I've seen nothing but water bottles filled with little black seeds, packed with nutrients.
Okay, so I'm kind of cheating with this one- ever since that fateful day in high school when I braved and mispronounced the acai smoothie at Robek's, I've become a full convert. Acai berries stem from Brazil, and as Argentina's neighbor, it's not hard to find this ingredient in the local juice shops around town.
It's an antioxidant bomb, packed to help combat premature aging and boost memory. Depending on your taste buds, I highly recommend this super-food fruit. It's chocolate-y berry flavor gets my blood pumping, especially when mixed with other fruits and frozen yogurts to make smoothies.
There's been some speculation over the true benefits to the Acai berry, especially since eating anything from the seed is considered inedible. As long as you stick to the skin and pulp, however, feel free to boost your breakfast with some added superfruit!