What the Heck is Goji?
If you follow health food trends at all, chances are you’ve heard of goji, also known as goji berry, Tibetan goji berry, Himalayan goji berry, and wolfberry. Goji berries are small, reddish-orange fruits with a bittersweet flavor that come from one of two closely related species of boxthorn. They are members of the Solanaceae, or nightshade family, which includes potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, and chili peppers.
Historically grown in parts of Asia and southeastern Europe, goji has come to prominence in North America over the last decade, growing in popularity primarily due to its purported health benefits. Since about 2002, farmers in Canada and the U.S. have scrambled to cultivate enough goji to meet an explosion in demand for fresh and dried berries, juice, and prepared products made from the berry.
Goji has been marketed as a superfood in recent years, and can usually be found in health and natural foods stores. Raw goji berries are very delicate, and are usually juiced or dried prior shipping. Their flavor in dried form is somewhat similar to dried cranberries.
Proponents of the fruit make numerous assertions about its health benefits, including purported anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, though some researchers have questioned those claims.
Even so, goji berries are packed with nutrients. They are unique among fruits in that they contain all 18 essential amino acids. The also contain 11 essential and 22 trace dietary minerals, six essential vitamins, five healthy unsaturated fatty acids, including two essential fatty acids, five carotenoids, eight polysaccharides, six monosaccharides, and numerous phenolic pigments thought to possess antioxidant properties (but no partridge in a pear tree). If all of that was Greek to you, it’s OK. The important things to know are that goji berries have the highest concentration of protein of any fruit, are rich in vitamin C and fiber, and they contain 15 times the iron found in spinach.
Goji juice is usually blended with another type of juice, often grape, to moderate its sour flavor. It can also be made into a wine. Dried goji berries can be eaten raw, but are usually cooked before consumption. They make a popular addition to soups as well as to pastries, where they can be substituted for raisins.
Here are some recipes to help you get to know this beneficial berry:
1 bunch of kale
1/4 cup sea salt
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 carrot, chopped
1/4 cup olives, pitted and chopped
1/4 cup fresh dulse
1/4 cup dried goji berries
1/4 cup sprouts
1/4 mixed fresh herbs
1/4 cup roasted almonds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
Remove stems from the kale. Place it in a large bowl and pour salt salt over the leaves. Massage the kale leaves with salt until they begin to soften and wilt. Pour in the lemon juice and continue to massage the leave. Add the avocado and mix until well incorporated. Pour the massaged kale into a serving bowl and toss in the rest of the ingredients.