Goji berries, also known as wolfberries, are bright red berries that come from a Chinese plant called Lycium barbarum. They have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries and have recently gained popularity in the West as a superfood. Goji berries are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber. Their unique sweet-tart taste makes them a versatile ingredient that can be mixed with both sweet and savory foods.
Can you eat goji berries on their own?
Yes, goji berries can be eaten raw right out of the bag. They make a handy snack packed with nutrients. However, their flavor really shines when they are mixed and combined with other ingredients. Eating goji berries on their own can cause a sudden spike in blood sugar. It’s best to consume them with foods that have fat, protein or fiber to moderate absorption.
Do you need to soak goji berries before eating?
It’s not necessary to soak goji berries, but doing so can help soften them up and make their nutrients more bioavailable. Soaking goji berries for 20-30 minutes can allow them to reconstitute and plump up as they absorb liquid. Soaking also makes them easier to chew. If you want to skip soaking, drinking plenty of water with your goji berries helps their digestion and nutrient absorption.
What are the most common ways to eat goji berries?
Here are some of the most popular ways to eat goji berries:
- Add to oatmeal, cereal or yogurt
- Blend into smoothies
- Mix into trail mixes and granola
- Sprinkle on salads
- Mix into rice dishes
- Bake into muffins, breads and cookies
- Cook into soups and stews
- Use in chutneys, relishes and salsa
- Coat with dark chocolate
- Infuse into tea or water
What foods and flavors pair well with goji berries?
Goji berries are very versatile when it comes to food pairings. Their flavor profile of sweet, sour and umami means they complement both savory and sweet dishes. Here are some of the best pairings for goji berries:
- Nuts like almonds, cashews or pistachios
- Seeds like pumpkin, sunflower or sesame
- Legumes like chickpeas, black beans or edamame
- Grains like brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat or oats
- Proteins like tofu, chicken, turkey or fish
- Herbs like cilantro, parsley, thyme or rosemary
- Spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg or cardamom
- Citrus flavors from lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit
- Pungent flavors like garlic, onion or shallot
- Leafy greens like kale, spinach or arugula
- Yogurt, especially Greek yogurt
- Oats and granola
- Nut butters like peanut, almond or cashew
- Dark chocolate
- Dried fruit like apricots, cranberries or cherries
- Nuts like walnuts, pecans or hazelnuts
- Honey, maple syrup or agave
Savory goji berry recipes
Goji berries can add color, flavor and nutrients to many savory dishes. Here are some delicious ways to use them:
Goji Berry Breakfast Bowl
Combine goji berries with oats, nuts, seeds and milk for a satisfying morning meal.
Goji Berry Salad Topper
Sprinkle goji berries over leafy green or grain-based salads for a pop of flavor and crunch.
Goji Berry Chicken Stir Fry
Add goji berries to a vegetable and chicken stir fry dish for a sweet-tart kick.
Goji Berry Wild Rice
Mix goji berries into cooked wild rice along with herbs and nuts for a flavorful side dish.
Goji Berry Chutney
Cook goji berries into a chutney with spices, vinegar and onions to accompany Indian dishes.
Goji Berry Salsa
Blend goji berries with tomatoes, onion and cilantro for a unique twist on traditional salsa.
Goji Berry Pasta Sauce
Puree goji berries into an olive oil-based pasta sauce for added antioxidant power.
Goji Berry Stuffing
Mix dried goji berries into stuffing or dressing along with typical ingredients like celery, onion and herbs.
Goji Berry Coleslaw
Whisk goji berry juice into coleslaw dressing for great flavor and color.
Goji Berry Tabbouleh
Add texture, nutrients and color to tabbouleh salad with goji berries.
Sweet goji berry recipes
The slight sweetness of goji berries allows them to be used in many desserts and baked goods. Here are some ways to use them:
Goji Berry Oatmeal Cookies
Mix dried goji berries into the batter for chewy, wholesome oatmeal cookies.
Goji Berry Muffins
Fold goji berries into banana, blueberry or bran muffin batter for antioxidant and fiber boost.
Goji Berry Granola Bars
Chopped goji berries add texture and nutrition to homemade chewy granola bars.
Goji Berry Smoothie Bowl
Blend goji berries into thick, creamy breakfast smoothie bowls topped with fruit and granola.
Goji Berry Chia Pudding
Stir goji berries into chia seed pudding along with milk, sweetener and spices like cinnamon.
Goji Berry Fruit Leather
Puree goji berries into homemade fruit leather for a nutritional, on-the-go snack.
Goji Berry Nice Cream
Mix goji berry powder into banana nice cream for added nutrients and subtle sweetness.
Goji Berry Jam
Cook goji berries into jams and preserves to spread on toast, waffles or peanut butter sandwiches.
Goji Berry Fruit Pizza
Top a baked cookie crust with goji berry chia jam and fresh fruit like kiwi for a fun dessert.
Goji Berry Crisp
Bake goji berries into a traditional fruit crisp or crumble for a nutritious fall dessert.
Drinks with goji berries
The small size and mild flavor of dried goji berries makes them easy to incorporate into beverages. They add nutrients without overpowering other ingredients. Here are some goji berry drink ideas:
Goji Berry Water
Infuse water with goji berries, citrus slices and herbs like mint to create a hydrating flavored water.
Goji Berry Tea
Simmer goji berries and tea leaves like green tea or hibiscus together to make a refreshing hot tea.
Goji Berry Juice Blend
Mix goji berry juice with apple, carrot or pomegranate juice for an antioxidant blast.
Goji Berry Cocktails
Muddle goji berries and use their juice in place of simple syrup to add nutrients to cocktails.
Goji Berry Smoothies
Blend dried or juice goji berries into fruit smoothies along with yogurt or milk for extra nutrition.
Goji Berry Milkshake
Add goji berry powder into milkshake or protein shake recipes for a nutrition boost.
Goji Berry Lemonade
Mix goji berry juice into homemade or store-bought lemonade for an antioxidant-rich drink.
Goji Berry Iced Tea
Steep goji berries in chilled black or green tea for a sweet, tangy summertime sipper.
What nutrients do goji berries provide?
Goji berries are loaded with beneficial vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Here are some of the top nutrients found in goji berries (per 1 ounce serving):
Goji berries also contain trace amounts of nutrients like vitamin E, riboflavin, niacin and minerals like copper, selenium and zinc.
Health benefits of goji berries
The unique nutritional profile of goji berries provides a range of potential health benefits:
Goji berries contain high levels of antioxidants and vitamin C which can help strengthen the immune system and prevent colds.
Support healthy aging
Antioxidants like zeaxanthin may protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, which has anti-aging effects.
Protect eye health
Goji berries are one of the richest sources of zeaxanthin, an antioxidant that helps maintain good vision and eye health.
Stabilize blood sugar
Goji berries have a low glycemic index which helps control blood sugar spikes and may assist with managing diabetes.
The fiber in goji berries supports regularity and healthy digestion. Fiber also feeds beneficial gut bacteria.
Goji berries provide plant-based iron to help transport oxygen as well as amino acids for sustained energy levels.
Support brain function
Antioxidants in goji berries may help protect the brain against oxidative stress and improve cognition.
Promote heart health
Goji berries contain fiber and antioxidants which support cardiovascular function and help lower cholesterol.
Enhance skin health
The antioxidants in goji berries help reduce inflammation and environmental damage that can lead to premature skin aging.
Goji berries are a versatile superfood that add powerful nutrients like antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals to both sweet and savory recipes. Their mild, tart flavor complements a wide variety of ingredients. Goji berries mix well into smoothies, oatmeal, trail mix, salads, baked goods, juices and more. Including antioxidant-rich goji berries in your diet provides many benefits including enhanced immunity, eye health, heart health, skin health and digestion. Experiment with adding these nutritious little red berries into your favorite dishes.