Functional Plant Foods 101: What You Need to Know

by Danielle McAvoy
Functional Plant Foods 101: What You Need to Know

Plants do more than to add flavor, color and variety to the meals we eat. Many plants are called “functional foods” because they have specific health benefits beyond just basic nutrition. Functional benefits include things like being anti-inflammatory or lowering the risk of a certain disease.

At Territory, we are always intentional with the ingredients that go into our meals, and you will find various functional foods across the menu.

Here Are Some of Our Favorite Functional Plants and the Above-And-Beyond Benefits They Provide:

Mushrooms

Mushrooms have been used in traditional and folk medicine for thousands of years because of their healing and digestive properties.  Aside from being a good source of fiber and B vitamins, the plant chemicals in mushrooms have been shown to strengthen the body’s defense system and potentially fight cancer.  Mushrooms stimulate the activity of antibodies present in the saliva, which act as a first line of defense. Beta-glucans, a fiber in mushrooms, increase the activity of immune cells and macrophages. They also act as a prebiotic to feed and promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, which is directly linked to better immune health.

A few mushroom-centric meals on the Territory menu:

  • Wild Mushroom Ragout over Polenta (available in SF)
  • Chia Crusted Tofu Steak with Mushroom Stir Fry and Wasabi Crema (available in DC, MD, VA, NYC-area, Philly-area)
  • Vegan Quinoa-Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms w/ Chimichurri Sauce (available in Southern California)
  • Portobello Mushroom Pomodoro over Spaghetti (available in DC, MD, VA, NYC-area, Philly-area)
  • Free Range Turkey Burger with Kimchi Mustard and Sweet Potato Steak Fries (available in DC, MD, VA, NYC-area, Philly-area)
  • RightRice Mushroom Paella (available on the East Coast)

Tiger Nuts

Tiger nuts are actually tuber roots, similar to ginger or sweet potatoes. They are unusually high in resistant starch, a type of carbohydrate that does not break down into glucose. Resistant starch instead slowly ferments in the gut. This fermentation process is extremely healthy for our beneficial gut bacteria. Resistant starches have been shown to improve blood sugar control, aid in weight loss, decrease cholesterol and lower the risk of colon cancer. Because it breaks down so slowly, it does not cause gas or bloating.  In addition to being an excellent prebiotic, tiger nuts are also a good source of healthy fats, zinc, and iron.

Tiger nut flour is used in The Grain Free Baker’s Paleo Brownie Mix and Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix, available in DC, MD, VA, NYC-area, Philly-area. 

Walnuts

All nuts and seeds are an essential part of a healthy diet, but walnuts are particularly high in polyunsaturated fats and omega-3s.  The Omega-3 fats and amino acids in nuts improve cholesterol ratios, reduce blood clotting, relax blood vessels, and control blood sugar and insulin levels. Research has determined that people who eat nuts everyday live longer, healthier lives than those who do not.

Walnuts are found in these Territory meals:

  • Banana Walnut Oatmeal with Tropical Fruit Salad (available in DC, MD, VA, NYC-area, Philly-area)
  • Quinoa Breakfast Cereal Bowl with Berry Compote and Maple Nuts (available in Southern California)
  • Paleo Bread Pudding w/ Beef Chorizo & Spiced Apples (available in SF)

Blueberries

The blue in blueberries is what makes them a highly functional food. Their bluish-purple color comes from anthocyanins, which are one of the most powerful antioxidants. Blueberries are also high in polyphenols and the combination of these nutrients makes them multi-functional. Blueberries are anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer, they protect the eyes, liver and lungs, prevent heart disease and diabetes, improve brain function and reduce cognitive decline, strengthen bones, and boost the immune system.

Territory meals containing blueberries include:

  • Blueberry Matcha Muffins (available in DC, MD, VA, NYC-area, Philly-area)
  • Lemon Blueberry Griddle w/ Sausage Egg Scramble (available in DC, MD, VA, NYC-area, Philly-area)
  • Chai Spiced Breakfast Quinoa with Blueberry Jam (available in Southern California)
  • Blueberry Muffins with Cinnamon Breakfast Apples (available in Southern California)

Pickled Vegetables

Fermented vegetables such as kimchi, pickles or sauerkraut are functional because they contain probiotics. Probiotics feed and promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria. Probiotics are beneficial for digestion and can help ease GI symptoms. Because gut health is closely linked to immunity and mental health, probiotics also have an immune boosting and mood boosting effects.

Territory meals containing fermented veggies include:

  • Roasted Chicken Tikka with Sweet Potatoes and Pickled Slaw (available in SF)
  • Mount Everest Chicken Curry with Cauliflower, Squash and Mango Lime Pickle (available in SF)
  • Korean-Style Tofu Stir Fry with Vegetable Kimchi (available in DC, MD, VA, NYC-area, Philly-area)
  • Chef Kevin Gillespie Mushroom Country Captain with Pickled Green Tomatoes and RightRice (available on the East Coast)
  • Chicken Mole Verde w/ Spanish Brown Rice & Pickled Veggies (available in Southern California)
  • Vegan Tofu Bibimbap with Sticky Rice and Pickled Veggies (available in Southern California)

Order Prepared Meals Starring Functional Foods Now

Plant-forward eating with plenty of functional foods may do everything from making you feel better, keeping you healthier, and maybe even helping you live longer. Don’t wait – order easy prepared meals full of functional foods to your doorstep now. Eating nutrient-dense foods does not have to be hard. Territory makes it easy! 

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