Before potatoes became the side of choice on Polish plates, the country’s cuisine relied heavily on various groats, among them the nutrients-packed millet. In recent years, millet has made a huge comeback. Since it can easily absorb flavours, health-conscious foodies turn it into countless dishes, from burger patties to chocolate pudding. Millet is high in B-group vitamins, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, magnesium, not to mention being a healthy source of essential fats. Regular consumption has been linked with increased heart health, lower risk of diabetes and keeping cholesterol levels in check. If you haven’t already, it is definitely a good idea to find a place for it on your plate.
Even though Polish cuisine is more often associated with beets than with its leafy cousin, chard, both have played an important role in the country’s culinary history. Chard is a great source of vitamins K, A, E, B2, B6 and C as well as magnesium, calcium, copper, manganese, potassium and iron. It is great for blood sugar regulation and has anti-inflammatory properties. In other words, it is a good idea to sneak a couple cups of it onto your dinner plate. Probably the most popular way of serving it in Poland is in chłodnik, a type of cold soup made with soured milk and cucumbers.
Sauerkraut probably doesn’t need much introduction. Filled with good bacteria that can boost your digestive health, pickled cabbage should find its place to your grocery list. Poles usually eat it with grated carrots and apples, for extra sweetness which balances the sourness of the cabbage. But if you don’t have time for this extra step, just grab a fork and eat it straight from the jar for an uber healthy snack. Just make sure it has not been pasteurised, as the process diminishes the nutritional value.
If you are looking for a side veggie to boost your meal’s nutritional value, definitely grab a turnip from your local farmer’s market. Packed with vitamins K, A, C, E, B1, B3, B5, B6, B2 and minerals like manganese, potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium and copper, turnips make for a great snack or basis for a side salad. Simply grate it, add some mayo or sour cream and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Need another snack idea that is easy to prepare and provides numerous nutrients and vitamins? Cut some kohlrabi into sticks and enjoy with hummus or other dip of choice. This vegetable of questionable beauty but very satisfying texture not only acts as a weight-loss booster, as it is low in calories and high in fibre, but also helps protects your vision, bone strength and nerve and muscle function.
At this point everyone has probably heard about the health benefits of consuming berries. But if blueberries, strawberries and raspberries have already became a staple in your kitchen, it is time to incorporate some aronia berries, also known as chokeberries. They have at least three times the antioxidant power of blueberries! Poland is the largest exporter of chokeberries in the world and controls almost 90% of global market share. Aronia berries help improve blood circulation, balance blood pressure and help with weight loss. They also have anti-inflammatory properties and help keep your urinary tract healthy. Apart from being a very nutritious snack, aronia berries can also be transformed into delicious jams.
If you thought that parsley is just a pretty garnish, you may be surprised to find out that this inconspicuous veggie is a serious powerhouse, jam-packed with antioxidants and vitamins. Whether you prefer the leaves or the root, there are plenty of ways to introduce parsley to your menu. Blend it into a purée, roast it or add it to soups or salads; whatever way you choose, your digestion, cholesterol levels and heart health will surely improve.