In today’s culinary setting, ‘food staples’ can be considered those types of food that are often one of the key ingredients, or commonly used ingredients through many dishes, used both regionally and culturally throughout the world. A food staple by today’s standard might not necessarily be the main, or base ingredient, but most certainly can be the dominant or enhancing flavour of a dish. It is especially true if a particular flavour is used frequently throughout many dishes of a specific region or demographic of people. Traditionally though, in a time where food export and imports were much less, or non-existent, staple foods would make up a dominant part of a population’s diet. These foods would be readily available and native to the region and climate to those that consumed them. Food staples, in a traditional sense, would supply a large portion of a person’s energy and nutritional needs. Fifteen edible plants in the world have provided 90% of the world’s food energy intake, with two-thirds being comprised of rice, corn and wheat. Did you know Quinoa, a popular grain in North America, originated from high in the Andes Mountains of South America? Besides these staple grains, along with tubers and root vegetables, there are also those unique flavours that are commonly used in regional cuisine throughout the world. Read on to see what we’ve highlighted.
Chili peppers are the backbone of Mexican cooking. Chili peppers contain capsaicin, which is found to fight cancers, prevent sinusitis, protect the heart, relieve congestion, reduce inflammation, are a rich source of Vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and help to burn fat.
Ghee is renowned for its medicinal and rejuvenating properties and provides nourishment while keeping the digestive tract lubricated, to aid in the elimination of toxins from the body.
Caribbean & Tropics:
Pineapples have anti-inflammatory and digestive benefits. Pineapples also contain antioxidants, support immune function and protect against macular degeneration.
The Shiitake mushroom is regarded as a symbol of longevity, due to health promoting properties. Shiitakes may effectively lower cholesterol, strengthen the immune system, help prevent the growth of cancerous cells and aid in weight loss.
Olives provide dozens of health protective nutrients such as; hydroxytyrosol – a phytochemical linked to cancer prevention and bone loss prevention. Olives also provide iron, fibre and copper.
Coconut is used plentifully in Thai cuisine and is packed with calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B. Coconut is also beneficial in supporting thyroid function.
Grapes are recognized for reducing cholesterol and may fight some of the signs of aging, while reducing possibilities of some cancer growth.
It is no secret that the potato is the commonality amongst regional dishes in Ireland. Potatoes are low in calories, high in fibre and offer protection against cardiovascular disease and cancer. Potatoes are also a good source of many vitamins and minerals including Potassium.
Throughout history, every culture has used food as a means to preventing and treating illness and disease, as well as to promote general good health. In ancient Egypt, the Egyptians praised lentils for their ability to enlighten the mind. In ancient Greece and Rome, honey was used to heal wounds, and in China sprouted grains and beans were used to treat a range of illness, including constipation. You can see that all over the world, since the beginning of time, and still today [less commonly in North America due to western medicine], food has played a major role in how our bodies act, react, heal and thrive.
What are your favourite or staple ingredients that make their way into many of your dishes?
#foodstaples #cuisine #healingfood #regionalfoods #cooking
Tanya is a classically trained, Red Seal Chef, and former restauranteur and caterer, with additional studies in Holistic Nutrition and business. Having food as her foundation she continues to build on her interests and knowledge base in the study of the body, mind and brain connection. She now spends her time as a Mom of twins, researcher and writer, while continuing to participate digitally in the culinary world with her company, Artisan Food Co.