Did you know that paella is jam-packed with super food ingredients?
Cooked tomatoes are packed with bioavailable lycopene, capsicum (and paprika which is made from capsicum) is high in vitamin C which is great for boosting your immune system, and saffron – the magic ingredient in paella – is loaded with antioxidants, namely crocin, crocetin, safranal, and kaempferol.
But you can also add super foods to your paella if you want to boost its healing powers. Read on for a quick guide to what you can add for extra oomph.
Kale is a polarising vegetable because in the early days of the kale craze, people weren’t preparing it properly. However, if you chop it finely, use young leaves and/or massage it with salt and olive oil to break down the fibres, it’s a delicious addition to paella.
Oily fish has Omega-3 amino acids that are protective for your nervous system and brain function. Salmon is a good option as some people are not keen on the stronger flavoured fish like sardines and mackerel (that are also high in beneficial oil but very strong in flavour).
Some chefs use olives as a decoration on top of the paella but adding them into the mix will give your paella an authentic Mediterranean flavour with a real kick in the health department. The antioxidant nutrients in black olives impede the oxidation of cholesterol, thereby helping to prevent heart disease. Olives do contain fat, but it’s the healthy monounsaturated kind, which has been found to shrink the risk of atherosclerosis and increase good cholesterol.
While not a traditional addition, you can add a crunchy topper of toasted, chopped nuts to your paella. Walnuts are especially good as they are the only nuts that contain high amounts of omega-3 essential fatty acids (also known as ALA), which promote heart health and help lower blood pressure. Almonds are also good because of their Vitamin E content that helps aid in the production of collagen.
Boiled eggs give your paella a protein boost but be careful to only cook them to the point where they are soft in the middle (not runny – just not hard). Runny and soft egg yolks have a protein in them called cysteine that is good for eye health. You know how your eyes adjust to the dark or light by dilating or contracting your pupils? Well, cysteine is the nutrient that supports this function. Boiling the yolk to the point where it is hard and pale yellow destroys the cysteine; hence the need to keep them soft.
What are some of your favourite paella ingredients? How much do you know about paella? Take our fun quiz here.