Have you ever found yourself walking down the aisles of your food store and feeling a bit wary about purchasing kale chips?
Have you eliminated a menu item from your options because it contained hemp seeds that you were scared to try? You’re not alone. These seemingly exotic foods can seem intimidating if you haven’t tasted them before.
Here are some foods you may be too afraid to try, but actually taste great. Put aside those food fears and dig in to these flavorful treats; your taste buds will thank you.
Ghee is different from the regular butter you have in your fridge. It has been cooked longer to remove moisture. The milk solids are caramelized and strained, which gives ghee a nutty taste. It's mainly used in Indian cuisine, but can be incorporated into pasta and rice for a rich dish; try adding ghee to your garlic bread or spaghetti and meatballs.
• Sorghum flour
Sorghum flour is similar to corn, but it's higher in protein and fat. It's used in many gluten-free flour blends for cooking and baking. Many people are scared by its name, but sorghum tastes great toasted as a crunchy topping for stir-fries or combined with oil in a skillet for a fun popped snack.
• Kelp noodles
Noodles get an update with kelp instead of wheat. They can be added to soups or served as a main dish with sauce; there's no need to cook these noodles as they are sold ready to eat. They're served raw and perfect to add to green salads.
• Goji berries
These red berries are loaded with antioxidants. They're sold dried and fresh and can be thought of as a fancy spin on raisins. They're tasty alone or mixed into trail mix, cookies, muffins and oatmeal.
• Cacao nibs
Cacao is the source of all cocoa and chocolate products before they are processed into shiny treats with tons of added sugar and dairy you see in the stores. These nibs might sound like candy, but they're actually packed with lots of vitamins and minerals: beta-carotene, amino acids, calcium, zinc, iron and magnesium. Try adding a sprinkle to your ice cream, baked goods or cereal.
Instead of breadcrumbs, use ground hemp seeds to coat your chicken, tofu or fish. Hemp seeds are packed with magnesium, iron, potassium and fiber, so they can be a great way to sneak it a bit of a nutrition boost to your smoothie or yogurt snack. Leftover seeds add a hearty texture to hummus and served with tortilla chips.
• Gluten-free granola
Gluten-free granola doesn't have to be bland or boring; in fact, some varieties have an amazing variety of 'granola clusters' from a unique blend of 100 percent whole grains – amaranth, quinoa, oats, millet and buckwheat. They're portable and versatile so you can enjoy them as a cereal with milk, as a snack by the handful, or on top of yogurt. This granola is so good that many of my clients don't believe me when I tell them it's gluten-free.
• Vegan cream cheese
Looking for that cream cheese taste without the dairy? Vegan cream cheese can be used as a cream cheese substitute for vegans and people who are allergic to dairy. You’ll have a tough time convincing your guests that there is no dairy inside. Try it out on a piece of toasted bread in the morning.
• Dairy-free chocolate chips
What happens when we're looking for a healthier chip for baking our favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe? Dairy-free chocolate chips pack a lot of flavor; and they are perfect for chocolate-covered strawberries, in baked goods or for eating right out of the bag.
Yes, you can eat seaweed, and it tastes great. Nori is the black wrapping you notice on the outside of your sushi rolls. It's delicious and can be used in soups, salads and as a sandwich wrap instead of tortillas.
• Kale chips
Most people know that kale is a 'superfood,' but so many are intimidated by cooking it. You can ease worry and time by grabbing a pack of the new pre-packaged kale chips that you can find in many grocery stores, or make your own with a drizzle of olive oil and chopped fresh kale in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Amie Valpone is a celebrity chef based in New York City and editor-in-chief of TheHealthyApple.com. Specializing in simple, gluten-free recipes, Amie has been featured in numerous magazines and on well-known websites, as well as TV. Visit Amie on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.