I’ll admit it openly: chia seeds are now in my grocery rotation. After my last happy surprise, I decided to focus this Superfood Sunday on a product I’ve been interested in for a while.
The goji berry, also known as Lycium barbarum and wolfberry, comes from an Asian shrub found in China, Mongolia, and Tibet. Like tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplants, they’re members of the Solanaceae, or nightshade, family. They have been used for centuries in Asia for medicinal purposes, and herbalists claim they can do anything from protecting the liver to balancing hormones. The goji berry is packed with antioxidants like beta-carotene and zeaxanthin, which protect the eye by absorbing blue light and can decrease the risk of developing macular degeneration with age.
Violently red, they’re usually available in dried form, like the ones I found at Whole Foods. In traditional Chinese medicine, they’re eaten raw, brewed into tea, or added into soups. Recent years have introduced goji juice as well as other treats like goji trail mixes. Although I was tempted by the bag of chocolate covered goji, I persevered in my pursuit of their purest available form. Goji berries have a taste similar to dried cherries or cranberries, with a combination of sweetness and a tart finish. Tarter than a raisin, and much less plump, they’re easy to sprinkle into salads, cereal, or baked goods. If you find yourself with a bag of these berries, try out this recipe:
Banana Goji Muffins
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 Tablespoons ground flax
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup unsweetened plant-based milk
- 2 Tablespoons applesauce
- 2 very ripe bananas
- round 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 5 tablespoons (or more!) dried goji berries
- rounded 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Mash the bananas well, working out all the lumps.
Mix together all of the ingredients, adding baking soda last. Line muffin pans with liners. Then, fill each muffin with batter to the rim. Bake for 20-25 minutes, depending on the size of your muffin tin. Keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and enjoy, perhaps with some goji juice!