If there’s one thing 2020 has taught us, it’s that there are many things in life we cannot control. So, let 2021 be the year of accepting the things we cannot change and working on the things we can—such as cultivating a healthy diet. Call it New Year resolutions or intentions, just make it a point to add more nutrient-rich foods to your daily meals.
Covid-19 has not only transformed the way we relate to food—think takeout runs, deliveries galore and home-cooked thrills—but also how we evaluate our food choices and perceive nutrition in general. Sales of vitamin supplements shot through the roof as people prioritised self-care and refocused their needs on improving their immune system amid the pandemic. You don’t have to rely heavily on pills if when there’s an abundance of other highly effective, yummy and readily available nutritious options for your everyday meals.
Best of all, you can have healthy meals delivered islandwide, daily. We take a look at some healthy foods trending in 2021 and ready dishes and drinks you can get sent to your doorstep in a few clicks.
Meat meets its match
A healthier food option found increasingly on the menu these days is plant-based meats. Many nutritionists would agree that a plant-dense diet leads to improved health outcomes.
You’ve probably heard that most burgers from fast food chains are highly processed cheap animal off-cuts loaded with preservatives to keep them edible for an extreme amount of time. Till recent years, artificial flavourings and colouring were the easy resort for major chains to make cheap foods more palatable and to ensure the same standard taste across the globe. Most fast food is also high in sodium—not great for blood pressure and heart health, nor your kidneys.
That’s where craft burgers step up to the plate. Unlike their mass produced fast food cousins, these handmade burgers more often comprise patties with choice, flavourful meats that need no chemical taste enhancers. The hard truth is, though, that most meat burgers are still high in fat, sodium, sugar (yes, sugar).
Alex Tan, founder of VeganBurg, became a vegetarian over two decades ago. He attests, “I had major health issues because of my diet, eating anything and everything. I was constantly feeling ill until a friend convinced me to try being vegetarian and it worked immediately. I started feeling better and all the unwanted symptoms disappeared eventually.”
Tan founded VeganBurg, a 100% vegan fast-food chain, in 2010—a year before all-the-rage Impossible Foods was even launched. He realised early on that the trick to getting non-vegetarians and fast-food junkies on the meat-free bandwagon is in the patty. Tan explains, “We cannot change the fast-food industry but we can change what goes into the stuff we eat.”
Plus, plant-based patties have more fibre and less cholesterol than meat patties, dietitians say. VeganBurg also gives carb-watchers the option of swapping out the burger buns for a lettuce wrap instead—added greens bonus!
One of the joint’s best-sellers is the “non-vegetarian-tasting” Hawaiian Teriyaki Burger ($11.90), served with in-house patty made of mainly soy beans and mushrooms. Or for an additional $6, you can choose to have the burger with the world-famous “bleeding meat” Impossible patty thanks to a recent partnership between the two plant-based powerhouses.
Variety is the spice of life
Scientists caution against overconsumption of foods that lead to high levels of free radicals in the body, which can cause inflammation and cancer, among other diseases. Such foods include fats and meat that’s cooked at high temperatures—a double whammy for burger lovers. Red meat also has a higher iron content, making it more oxidative. Preservatives in processed foods also cause free radical damage.
Continue to enjoy your burgers in moderation, we say. Besides vegan options like VeganBurg’s, lean meat and fish burgers would be an obvious healthier switch-up. Check out The Living Cafe for meal option deliveries for vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians, those on a keto diet or if you’re just looking to supercharge your daily meals with delicious, healthy foods.
Another way to counter free radicals is to go for those that have a generous amount of spice mix in the patties or sauces. Some researchers have found certain spices make red meat less cancer-causing. Ginger, ginkgo, rosemary and turmeric, for instance, are not only flavourful but are antioxidant.
Spices will continue to be a hot trend in healthy diets in 2021 and beyond. For the full benefits, chug down a glass of pure, unadulterated “golden milk” that is popularly known as Turmeric Latte ($6) or a cuppa Fresh Ginger ($5). Both are anti-inflammatory spicy drinks and available at Kitchen by Food Rebel.
But if you want something more substantial to chomp on, a bowl of Rebel Buddha ($19) offered at the health food restaurant is a gluten-free dish with a little of everything, including spiced chickpeas, fresh rocket, and beetroot hummus. Its right-sized portions, along with the protein-rich chickpea, will also keep hunger pangs at bay.
Chickpeas, by the way, are high in antioxidants, protein, iron, vitamins and fibre, and are gluten-free. Definitely a superfood to keep on your 2021 healthy food list.
Another popular superfood now heavily sought after to relieve inflammation is elderberry. One study of over 300 air travellers revealed that when those who took an elderberry extract capsule thrice a day when they were sick recovered faster and experienced less severe cold and flu symptoms.
A cup Red Elderberry ($5.50) from Dal.komm Coffee, or Elderberry & Echinacea ($3.40) from Pink Fish will support your immune health, given elderberry’ nutritional value of being both low in calories and rich in vitamins and minerals. The superfruit may also help to improve heart health as it boasts three types of flavanols, which are naturally occurring compounds in plants with antioxidant properties.
Happily for gastronomes, a moderate amount of red wine has research-backed potential to lower the risk of heart disease as well. This is because of the particularly rich plant compounds such as resveratrol that are present in grape skins. It is the resveratrol content of red wine, which ferments with the skins, that is believed to benefit the heart by preventing the formation of blood clots and inflammation.
Pinot Noir, with the highest concentration of resveratrol, is said to have the most health benefits. Check out the range of reds at Burnt Ends Cellars for wine delivery islandwide in Singapore. It’s running a promotion now where you get 20% off your sixth bottle.
Head over to The Plattering Co. for a selection of reds, some even in mini sizes to help you with portioning your intake, such the Mini Jacob’s Creek Shiraz Cabernet ($14, 187ml). While you’re at it, order a gourmet food and cheese platter—berries, fruit and nuts have indisputable nutritious value, while cheese gives you a calcium hit. These platters make great appetisers or sharing desserts for those sticking to a healthier diet.
Kombucha is definitely making a comeback. It’s a 2000-year-old drink that is experiencing a newfound surge in popularity. Made by adding scoby, a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, to sweetened tea, it is then left to ferment, becoming fizz-filled, acidic alcohol. The bubbly drink contains live probiotic bacteria and a raft of health benefits are claimed, including improved digestion and immune function. Heybo, a slow food purveyor, offers organic brews in refreshing kombucha flavours, delivered islandwide: Yuzu Lavender, Strawberry Mint, Jasmine Hibiscus and Lemongrass Ginger Turmeric ($4.90 a bottle).
But with all things considered—and while these plants, fruits and vegetables have a particularly high content of vital substances and nutrients—not one superfood should rule them all. This is indicative of the popular, wider medical opinion that it is more important to strategise healthy plates of food within a holistically healthier diet than attempt to cure ailments with one food type—no matter how super it may be.