Every year there seems to be a new 'it' food that everyone is eating or talking about eating. Traditional staple foods from Asia and Africa have often topped the list of foods to hit the trendy mainstream and it is looking like 2020 will be no different.

Moringa

Moringa powder is said to have extensive nutritional properties and is popular in smootheis, sprinkled on salads or atop breakfast. Source: Getty Images.
Moringa powder is said to have extensive nutritional properties and is popular in smootheis, sprinkled on salads or atop breakfast. Source: Getty Images.

If you aren't already sprinkling moringa powder on your chia pudding in the morning you might be soon. Moringa oleifera is an Indian tree that's been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years but has only recently become known globally. Almost all parts can be eaten. Studies suggest there may be a link to reduced blood sugar and cholesterol and antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Moringa powder, supplements and tea are all avalable online in New Zealand.

Fonio

Fonio is looking to be the next quinoa, with an extensive nutritional profile and rich, nutty taste. Source: Getty Images.
Fonio is looking to be the next quinoa, with an extensive nutritional profile and rich, nutty taste. Source: Getty Images.

The high-fibre, rice-like grain from West Africa looks like a cross between couscous and quinoa and has a nutty flavour. Traditionally used in stews, salads and porridges, fonio can also be ground into flour and used to make bread — great news for coeliac sufferers as it is gluten-free. Fonio is highly nutritious, containing two powerful amino acids, cystine and methionine. It is a little hard to come by in stores but can be found easily online.

Ghee

Ghee, a traditional clarified butter originating in India thousands of years ago, is suddenly the 'it' food of the moment. Source: Getty Images.
Ghee, a traditional clarified butter originating in India thousands of years ago, is suddenly the 'it' food of the moment. Source: Getty Images.

This form of clarified butter is a staple of Indian cooking, but has been having a moment of late. The popularity of paleo and ketogenic diets has seen ghee move from traditional to trendy with purported health benefits. Plain ghee is versatile and easy to come by but be on the lookout for flavoured versions. Garlic and turmeric ghee sound good, but what about vanilla maple chai ghee, ghee nut butters or even a chocolate ghee spread? Flavoured ghees are available online, but making your own at home is simple. Try our recipe at eatwell.co.nz/ghee.

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Egusi

Ebisu seeds, which come from a variety of bitter melon, are extremely high in protein and work well when used in a similar way to pumpkin seeds. Source: Getty Images.
Ebisu seeds, which come from a variety of bitter melon, are extremely high in protein and work well when used in a similar way to pumpkin seeds. Source: Getty Images.

A name used to describe several species of bitter melon also native to West Africa, egusi seeds are highly nutritious. Almost 50 per cent protein, egusi was traditionally ground and used to thicken soups, increasing bulk and nutrients. Seeds can be toasted and eaten whole as a snack or on salads, similar to pumpkin seeds. Ground and whole seeds can be found at speciality African supermarkets in New Zealand.