Sarah-Jane Bedwell, SELF magazine
Have you ever eaten seaweed snacks? What about freekeh? If you haven't, maybe you should. These under-the-radar eats actually contain loads of health benefits, and are pretty tasty, too-just keep an open mind. These strange foods may just surprise you-and your tastebuds.
Seaweed Snacks: When I received some samples of these snacks in the mail, I was pleasantly surprised that they had a satisfying crunch and were full of great flavor. And can you believe they only have 25 calories and 2 g fat per serving? Plus, they are relatively low in sodium and pack 25% of the vitamin C you need each day. The best part about these babies? They come in all types of interesting flavors including wasabi, sesame, and if you're craving something slightly sweet, brown sugar.
Freekeh: Freekeh is an ancient whole-grain that was created by accident nearly 2,000 years ago when a Middle Eastern village was attacked and their crop of young green wheat was set ablaze. To make use of the burned wheat, the villagers simply rubbed off the chaff, cooked it up and ta-da: Freekeh was created. It's great when used as a substitute for rice or other starchy foods to created delicious pilafs, salads and side dishes. The nutritional benefits are major, too: In each 1/4 cup serving, you get 8 g of filling protein and 4 g of heart-healthy fiber.
Algae: It may sound strange, but studies show that adding a little brown or blue-green algae to your smoothie or soup can help ward off cancer, reduce blood pressure or even lower the risk for type 2 diabetes. Algae's antioxidant content and high levels of omega-3 fatty acids make it a great unusual food to add to your diet. Check out your local healthy foods mart to find the freshest stuff.
Gai Lan: So, you've probably already eaten this veggie at your favorite Asian restaurant, but had no idea. Also known as Chinese broccoli, gai lan is leafier and has a sharper flavor than its counterpart. Since it cooks quickly, it's great to whip up in a stir-fry or served steamed as a side dish. And it gets nutrition points for its fiber, potassium, and vitamin A. Find it at your local specialty foods store.