Is there any truth in the old saying that we are what we eat? Tasty or not, food is definitely supposed to supply us with energy – and plants contain concentrated energy in the form of chlorophyll, which is created when plants metabolise energy from the sun. So when we eat those plants, our bodies absorb that energy.
Powerfood means filling up with sunshine and absorbing energy
The chlorophyll particles in plants are very similar in structure to our red blood cells, and support their development. Since red blood cells transport oxygen around our body, they affect how fit we feel, and how much power we have. They also help wounds heal faster.
But that’s not all vegetables can do for our body. Every chlorophyll molecule also contains magnesium, which is vital for our brain and muscles, and has a chemical structure that helps bind and purge heavy metals. This detox effect is the reason why so many green detox teas and smoothies are made from plants.
In our region, familiar chlorophyll-rich veggies include broccoli, green bell peppers , cucumber, spinach, rocket, lettuce, spring onions, leeks and the classic green herbs.
Hong Kong markets are heaven for veggie lovers
On his quest for new powerfood inspiration, our powerfood expert travelled to Hong Kong, where he combed the weekly markets and visited far-flung islands.
His conclusion? In Hong Kong, vegetables are a staple food that belongs in the powerfood category.
What kinds of powerfood do they prepare in Hong Kong kitchens?
Many vegetables make a welcome side dish, or even a main course, for people in Germany too. The list includes corn, ginger, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, Chinese cabbage, broccoli, lemongrass, coriander, soybeans, zucchini, spinach and garlic. Hong Kong has other powerfoods that are less well known, but really delicious – for example pak choi (sometimes available from well stocked Asian markets), leaf mustard greens, okra, Chinese chives, galgangal, yam root, dudhi and water spinach.
Our powerfood expert took a closer look at water spinach on your behalf.
What power does water spinach contain, and where does it actually come from?
Water spinach originally comes from Asia, but is now on the menu in many countries elsewhere too. In the region it comes from, people see it as a cooling food that they often complement with ‘warming’ ingredients like chilli, garlic, ginger or fat. Water spinach is 90 percent water, and is very low in fat and calories. It’s also easy to digest because the carbohydrates it contains are complex, meaning they raise blood sugar levels slowly and moderately.
Here in Germany, you can find this tasty vegetable in Asian supermarkets. Apart from the more delicate taste, it’s similar to spinach.
Water spinach is usually fried, but you can also boil or steam it.
Here’s how they prepare it in Hong Kong markets:
1 bunch water spinach
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp bean paste
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp honey
1 pinch chilli
Wash the water spinach and chop it into 5cm strips.
Finely chop the garlic, onion and chilli.
Mix the bean paste, water, fish sauce and honey to make a paste.
Heat the oil in a wok – use sesame or pumpkin oil if liked.
Add the water spinach, garlic and onion. Fry for about 30 seconds, stirring all the time.
Stir in the sauce and cook for a further 30 seconds.
With the right seasoning, salmon goes really well with water spinach. Just arrange the spinach and seasoning ingredients in the steamer insert like a bed of herbs, then lay the fish on top.
Conclusion: Hong Kong has a wide range of powerfood veggies. Since shopping is part of the food experience, there are markets every day. You can buy fresh regional vegetables in any quarter of town, and markets stay open more or less all day and all night. People expect more freshness and choice than they do in Germany. Since there are no refrigerators on the streets of Hong Kong, goods arrive fresh every day and the stalls stay open until almost everything is sold.
Our expert’s tip: if you’re in Hong Kong and want that freshness in your holiday kitchen, it pays to shop early in the morning. As the day goes on, the heat and humidity affect the quality.
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