We think we know the ‘food group’ of so many different foods based on their name, or how they are used in cooking.  Maybe even because of their flavor profile. For example, we eat tomatoes in savory dishes, so we often think they are vegetables. But they are actually a fruit. I want to tell you about 5 food items that are not what we might think they are. Because it’s all in a name. Or is it?

#1 – Peanut

Peanuts are part of the legume family.  They’re actually a bean and not a nut. Yes, they are high in protein and can be considered healthy when chosen wisely.  For example, an heirloom jungle peanut originating from South America is most likely a safer bet than a Virginia/Spanish/Valencia peanut.  The common peanuts have been heavily cultivated for appearance and taste and sadly, most of the worldwide crop today is grown in China.  Most peanuts are roasted with industrial oils and the crops are known to be high in aflatoxin, a toxin formed by certain fungi which has serious side effects on the liver.

#2 – Tigernut

Like peanuts, tigernuts are not nuts at all. In fact they are small root vegetables that originate from Africa. They are considered a ‘super food’ because they are high in fiber, potassium and magnesium. They are also high in protein, can help control diabetes and its oil competes with olive oil.

#3 – Buckwheat

Most people think buckwheat is a grain, that is like wheat.  In fact, buckwheat is a fruit seed similar to rhubarb. Gluten free flour that is ideal for making noodles, breads, and pancakes, can be made from the plant (leaves and flowers). Buckwheat is native to Northern Europe as well as Asia. The Dutch introduced it to the US in the 17th century.  If you’ve eaten a true French Crepe then you’ve had buckwheat. Buckwheat is high in protein and includes all 8 essential amino acids including lysine.

#4 – Nutritional Yeast

Did you know a lot of people are allergic to yeast?  I didn’t know this was a thing until I opened my health food store back in 2013.  It can be serious for someone to ingest foods that have been made with yeast.  However, that usually refers to ‘active’ yeast. Nutritional yeast, also known as savory yeast, or nooch, is an inactive type of yeast made from sugarcane and beet molasses. Nutritional yeast is an ingredient that is grown on mixtures of cane and beet molasses. Once the fermentation process has completed, the yeast is harvested, washed, pasteurized, dried and packaged.  So, if you have a yeast intolerance than ingesting Nutritional Yeast is usually not an issue.

#5 – Pumpkin

Okay, is a pumpkin a fruit or a vegetable?  It’s part of the squash family and is in the same plant family as cucumbers and melons.  Since fruit is defined as “the usually edible reproductive body of a seed plant”, then pumpkin is a fruit.  

They’re super nutritious, so you’ll be happy to know it’s high in Vitamin A, and Vitamin C.  Also, high in minerals such as Potassium, Copper and Manganese. My favorite reason to eat pumpkin is it has all 9 Essential Amino Acids.  It is often overlooked for more common proteins such as Whey, Hemp, Pea, or Rice and could be considered as a viable option in your favorite smoothie.

These are just a few examples of foods that aren’t what we thought they were.  Can you think of any examples?  Leave a comment so we can all learn!

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