Happy Friday!! Today I want to talk about Superfoods….yep, I’ve talked about them before, and I will probably always talk about them because they are…well….super! I love to incorporate superfoods into my daily diet as much as possible.
Do you actually know what makes a food a Superfood?! I hear a lot of people calling basic foods, like broccoli, a superfood. But sorry, to disappoint, but broccoli is not a superfood. It’s a fantastic and highly nutritional food, but it’s not a superfood. According to David Wolfe from his ‘Superfoods‘ book, a superfood is: “foods that have a dozen or more unique properties; not just one or two.” Superfoods are classified as one of the most potent, super-concentrated, and nutrient-rich foods on the plant and you get so much more “bang for your buck” than traditional foods. That’s why they are the optimum choice for improving your overall health including boosting your immune system, cleansing and alkalizing the body and nourishing us at the deepest level.
There are many superfoods out there, and in David’s book he lists his top 10 superfoods, but I’ve broken it down further and am listing my top 5. These are the top 5 that I recommend getting started using because they are simple and easy to use and you can find them almost anywhere. Once you get used to using these, then add in another superfood, like Spirulina and experiment with that one for awhile, then add in another one and so on and so on.
- Maca Powder – Maca is one of my favorite superfoods and one that I always have on hand. I recently received some organic gelatinized maca powder from Gaia Herbs and I must admit that, I love this maca better than any other maca powder I’ve used before. I think what is better about it, is that it’s gelatinized. The gelatinization process removes the starch and provides maca which is concentrated and easily digested. I also love that it’s vegan, organic, gluten-free and non-GMO. According to archeological evidence, maca has been cultivated and grown high in the Peruvian Andes of South America for approximately 2,600 years. Maca has traditionally been used to promote energy and stamina as well as a libido-enhancing. Maca, like the goji berry, reishi mushroom, rhodiola, ginseng and other superfoods and superherbs, is a powerful adaptogen, which means that it helps balance and stabilize the hormonal, nervous, cardiovascular and musculature systems. Some conditions maca has been known to help: anemia, chronic fatique, depression, infertility and sterility, low libido, malnutrition, menopausal symptoms, menstrual discomfort, poor memory, stomach cancer, stress tension and tuberculosis. Maca can be used in high quantities and over a long period of time with no harmful side effects. I love to put a tsp into my morning smoothie and sometimes I will make a hot turmeric tea and add some maca to it. See my Chocolate Maca Protein Shake recipe below. If you need some more maca recipe ideas check out GaiaHerbs.com/Recipes. One word of caution: Maca powder should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women.
- Goji Berries – Goji berries are known as the fountain of youth superfood and is the leading longevity superfood in the world. It is know as this because researchers who study medicinal plants have identified a variety of nutrients in the goji berry that may help people enjoy longer and healthier lives. Goji berries like maca powder enhance libido and sexual function, provide antioxidants which help protect us from free radical damage and help improve vision. They also help boost your immune system, provide hydration, support brain and neurological health, cardiovascular health as well as helping keep vital organs healthy. I like to buy and use dried goji berries. Goji berries may be consumed daily and are a complete protein source, they feature 18 amino acids including all eight essential amino acids). They have a distinct sweet flavor that is somewhat tart as well. Dried goji berries can be added to smoothies, tea, snacks, salads, entree’s, sweets, desserts, or I like to just eat a handful with a few dark chocolate chips as a sweet treat.
- Hemp Seeds -Hemp seeds have become quite popular lately, and for good reason. They are an excellent source of plant-based protein and can be used many different ways. I use them in my salads, in protein bars, in smoothies, on these yummy apple “cookies”, & even sprinkled on avocado toast. Hemp seeds, like Goji berries, are also a complete protein and is easily digestible. They are also a great source of essential fatty acids like omega-6 and omega-3.
- Cacao – Cacao is also know as chocolate because all chocolate is made from cacao beans. All the antioxidant value, mineral benefits, neurotransmitter rejuvenating properties, and overall health-giving qualities of chocolate are found in original cacao. Cacao is the raw natural form of chocolate. Cacao is one of the most antioxidant-rich foods in the world (even more than blueberries). It’s also one of the best plant-based sources of magnesium. I buy raw cacao to use in smoothies, to make my own homemade chocolate bars & brownies, and in homemade hot chocolate & mocha latte. You can also buy cacao nibs which are good to sprinkle on top of smoothies, brownies, and other snacks.
- Coconut Oil – This is one superfood that almost everyone these days knows about and uses. I use it daily for cooking. Coconut oil is made of raw saturated fats (no saturated fats aren’t bad for you) containing mostly medium-chain fatty acids that the body can metabolize efficiently and convert to energy quickly. Sometimes when I do intermittent fasting or have a low-carb/high-fat day I will make my own “bullet-proof” coffee with 1 tbsp coconut oil, 1 tbsp grass-fed butter (I love Kerrygold brand), 1 tbsp raw cacao, & 2 medjool dates in my blender. The fats in this help keep me full longer. Coconut oil (as well as coconut flesh and coconut cream) help improve digestion and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and amino acids, help improve the immune system, improve the utilization of blood sugar, helps the body use essential fatty acids (omega-3, omega-6) more efficiently, helps regulate hormone production, increases metabolism, and much more! You can use coconut oil many different ways; oil pulling, eaten straight, blended in salad dressing or smoothies, for cooking in place of butter or margerine, and even as a moisturizer on your skin.
Here is my simple Chocolate Maca Protein Shake recipe I love to eat after a sweaty workout:
- 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 1 banana
- 1 spoonful full-fat organic grass-fed greek yogurt
- 1 TBSP cacao powder (or 1 scoop plant-based chocolate protein powder)
- 1 tsp maca powder
- ice cubes
Blend and enjoy!
Do you use superfoods or have any yummy superfood recipes?
Stay Healthy my Friends!
Carrie A Groff
– Healthy, Fit & Barefoot!
*Sources: “Superfoods” by David Wolfe – The Food and Medicine of the Future, Julie Morris’s “Superfood Kitchen” – Cooking with Nature’s Most Amazing Foods