We hear a lot about superfoods. They became very popular superstars in no time, with almost as much prominence as the Kardashians’ selfies on the internet (of any one of the sisters, let’s not be biased).

But what are exactly superfoods? On page 5 of Julie MorrisSuperfood Kitchen (2012) book, she lets us know that the word “superfood” first appeared in 1915 in the Oxford English Dictionary referring to any food considered especially nutritious and beneficial for our health. The author, whose career has been distinguished by favouring superfoods in her cooking, qualifies them as being all of those which have a high nutritional density and in which phytochemicals and antioxidants prevail.

These superfoods are also functional, in a sense that they have some kind of positive utility for our body (unlike others that are no more than empty containers of calories…yes Coca-Cola, I’m speaking to you!). Superfoods can also rebalance the pH in our body – often overloaded with processed foods, sugars and harmful fats – thus contributing to its alkalization.

Considering this accounts, it makes sense that those who favour superfoods count nutrients and not calories. That alone is extremely beneficial, considering that it prevents us from becoming obsessed, always with a calculator in hand, counting how many hours we should spend at the gym to “burn” a rice cake.

On supermarket shelves, superfoods can easily be identified. They are the ones with the most exotic names and, curiously, also the most expensive ones: chia, goji berries, açaí, kale, maca … But, sometimes, our binding with exotism makes us forget other foods with high benefits for our health that we could always find in the same shelves, although the poor ones are timidly hidden farther back. Beans, chickpeas, watercress… all of them waiting for their turn to be chosen and seriously considering investing on a rebranding so they can become sexy again in the eyes of the culinary consumers, nutritionists and bloggers.

Do not get me wrong, please! Kale continues to be one of the stronger superfoods to be taken in account in terms of benefiting our health and nutritional density: having a low glycaemic index, and being an enormous source of vitamins, minerals and fibres. That’s why I wanted, in this recipe, to combine it with one of my favourite ingredients – the chickpea – not only because it’s extremely dense in macro and micronutrients, but also because it is very rich in tryptophan, an essential amino acid responsible for our wellbeing and for a balanced, and overall happy, nervous system.

And if there’s something that makes me smile is to eat well.

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Kale Falafel with Cashew Sauce

Cashew sauce

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cups of cashew, soaked overnight
  • 1/2 cups of water
  • 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon of beer yeast
  • Salt qs

Preparation

Put all the ingredients in a potent processor until they are well crushed and reduced to sauce.

Kale falafel

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of boiled chickpeas
  • 60g of washed kale leaves
  • 1/2 tablespoons of white tahini
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped coriander
  • 2 tablespoons of ground linseed
  • 5 tablespoons of water
  • Salt qs
  • Pepper qs
  • Lemon zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 5 tablespoons of sesame seeds

Preparation

Begin by preparing the “eggs” by placing the ground linseed in a small container with the water. Let them hydrate for about 10 minutes. Put all the ingredients – except the sesame seeds – in a processor and grind, but not totally, so that the falafels will be a bit crunchy. Turn the oven on at 180ºC and place a sheet of parchment paper in a large tray. Shape some small balls and pass them through the sesame. Bake for about 40 minutes, turning the falafels once or twice so that they roast equally. Serve, still warm, with the cashew sauce.

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Enjoy your meal!

This post was originally written in Portuguese. Click here for the Portuguese version.