Goji and Incan Berries

April 30, 2011

Since starting my job in mid-March, I’ve posted a couple pictures of office temptations, like this ginormous box of candy and these Oreos.  But the office also occasionally introduces me to new healthy foods, too, and that’s what this post is all about.

I work for a media company, and often, other companies send samples our way with the hope that we’ll love the product and feature them in our projects, which would provide them some national exposure.  I’m not going to say anything more about where I work, so don’t bother asking!  I’m not exactly sure who in my office received these samples, all I know is that they were set out in the office kitchen area for the entire staff to try.  They caught my eye.  I tried them.  And I liked them.  And they’re foods I’ve never tried before, which is a recurring element of this blog, so everybody wins!

The samples were of products made by a company called Sunfood, which is based in the San Diego area and, according to their website, is a “world renowned source of the highest quality raw foods and superfoods the planet has to offer.”  I tried two of their products – and both were types of dried berries.

Product #1: Goji Berries.

Goji berries, according the package, is a “nutritionally complete raw super fruit.”  I had heard of them before, and maybe even seen them at Whole Foods, but I’ve never tried them.

Goji berries, which are sometimes called wolfberries, are native to China, although they’ve also been grown in England for 300 years.  They are nutritional powerhouses:  they have more vitamin C per ounce than oranges, 18 different amino acids, which are building blocks of protein (including 8 essential ones), 20 additional trace minerals, and lots of antioxidants and fiber.  One ounce of goji berries (which is 1/2 of the bag pictured above) has 80 calories and is fat free.

There was a Chinese guy named Li Ching-Yuen who allegedly lived to be 256 years old (until he died in 1933), and one of his secrets to longevity was reportedly… you guessed it, goji berries.  I’m skeptical of this story, for the record, but saw it online and thought it’d be interesting to share.

And what did they taste like?  They’re good!  The texture and consistency was raisin-like, or maybe even a little more tender, but also slightly more tart and slightly more bold than a raisin.  And I love their shape – they have a more defined shape, like sunflower seeds, whereas raisins can be rather blob-like.

Product #2: Incan Berries.

What the hell is an Incan berry?  Not only have I never eaten one before, but I’ve never heard of them.  They’re called different things in different parts of the word, too, and none of these names are ringing any bells:  golden berry, cape gooseberry, giant ground cherry, Peruvian cherry, poha, ras bhari… seriously, what the hell are these things?

I did my online research, and it turns out they’re the berry of a plant native to mountainous regions in South America.  Each berry has a thin papery shell around it, like tomatillos, which they’re very closely related to.  They’re most closely related to tomatillos than they are to other berries, actually.  They’re high in vitamins A and C, and have anti-inflammatory bioflavonoids, which is a word that looks made up to me, but probably isn’t.  One ounce (1/2 the bag) has 80 calories and 1 gram of fat.

As for the taste, I’d say they remind me of dried cherries more than anything else, also there’s a nice sour, citrus-y kick, as if dried cherries have been spritzed with lemon juice.  The sweet and tart combo is pretty tasty!

Here’s where you can buy goji berries and Incan berries yourself.  Have you ever tried them before?  What do you think?

All told, throughout the course of the day, I ate half of each bag, and I’m staring at 2 half-empty bags as proof!  They made a great snack, and I look forward to using my remaining berries in other ways – maybe on salads, or mixed in with Greek yogurt.

Keep it up, David!


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