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Sassy Mama’s Guide To Superfoods – What Exactly Are They?!

ExpertsPost Category - ExpertsExperts
Post Category - Green LivingGreen Living
Wellness & BeautyPost Category - Wellness & BeautyWellness & Beauty - Post Category - HealthHealth

Mamas I’m sure you’ve all heard the term superfoods”? To many of you, it probably seems like a made-up word that justifies crazy prices on crazy looking (and sounding) foods. However, as a raw food chef and holistic health coach, I’ve done my research and I personally love superfoods!

Superfoods are just foods that, compared to “normal” foods, are super because they are more nutrient dense. Some even have healing powers. And, yes, this little group of foods is more expensive than “normal” foods, however you don’t need to eat loads of them to gain benefits. For example, a few tablespoons of superfood goji berries have more antioxidant power than an entire tub of strawberries, especially if said berries have flown thousands of miles and have been sprayed with chemicals.

Superfoods are the powerhouses of clean nutrients such as protein, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, good fats and antioxidants. In fact, some superfoods contain the most easily absorbable forms of protein (amino acids) as well as being high ranking in terms of levels of disease-fighting and anti-aging antioxidants.

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In my café, NYLA Kitchen in Jumeirah, we love to sprinkle superfoods into everything from our freshly made smoothies through to our signature NYLA (vegan) chocolate cake (made with real cacao – probably the best superfood in the world because of its potent antioxidant content). At home, superfoods are my medicine; when I feel run down, I up the gojiberries and cacao to boost my immunity. If my digestion is feeling sluggish, chia seed porridge usually fixes the issue, and I love to use spirulina in my post-workout smoothie for a protein replacement.

Below, I have listed my top five superfoods for beginners. I challenge you to try at least one superfood this week and see if you feel a difference in health in a few weeks time – maybe this year you’ll keep that winter cold at bay!

Top 5 Superfoods for Beginners

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Image sourced from Pinterest

1) Cacao
Yes chocolate, aptly in the number one slot because it’s actually the world’s No. 1 antioxidant food. I’m not talking your average Dairy Milk chocolate bar here, no; we’re talking the raw organic form. Raw cacao is also rich in health-supportive minerals, including magnesium. Magnesium is important for heart and brain health, regulates blood pressure and prevents diabetes. It’s usually available in health food shops in the form of a powder, butter, paste or cocoa nibs.

What to look for: 100% raw and organic products because the quality and medicinal benefits will be damaged it’s been treated with heat or pesticides. Try to also look for fair-trade so that you know the cacao farmers have been fairly paid for their hard work.

goji berries

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2) Goji berries
They’re actually used in traditional Chinese medicine to help with blood circulation, especially around the eyes (speaking of which, they kinda look like little red eyes). Their burning-red colour is demonstrative of the solar energy soaked up in their natural desert habitat. FULL of antioxidants and are also a complete protein in the form of amino acids – who knew berries could contain protein?

What to look for: Organics. You also don’t want to buy the dried-up shrivelled ones – good-quality goji berries should be nice and plump like raisins. They should also be bright red in colour.

Get this: if we mix cacao and berries together, we double the amount of antioxidants the body will absorb! Double antioxidants in a delicious snack or smoothie – ok then!

maca

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3) Maca
This is what’s called an “adaptogen”; the cream-coloured powder from this little super-root adapts to your body’s environment to provide you with stress-support. It supports your hormone system by balancing everything out. It’s grown in the high Andes mountains in Peru and packed with vitamins, minerals, proteins and other phytochemicals, excellent for battling disease-causing inflammation and great for detoxing. It even has aphrodisiac qualities (wink wink)!

What to look for: There are many products containing maca (“health” bars, etc), but if you want to get the best results, then aim to go with the whole-food variety. This will come in the form of the powder, or even better, go with the original root so you’ll know exactly how much you’re getting. The tablets are good if you don’t want to carry too much with you when away from home.

spirulina

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4) Spirulina
This green-algae is available in powder, tablet or crunchy form and it’s super-rich in blood-cleansing chlorophyll. Like plants, it gets its energy from the sun via photosynthesis. It’s high in protein, antioxidants and dense nutrients. In fact, it’s one of the most potent nutrient sources available. It’s made up of essential amino acids and also contains vitamin B12, which is essential for brain-health. Great source of protein for vegetarians and vegans!

What to look for: Again, this can be found within many nutritional health bars. To ensure you receive a good dose, try to go for it in it’s raw form, all by itself. Make sure it smells fresh and it should be a dark green colour; the powder is great to throw into smoothies for a super-boost!

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Image sourced from Pinterest

5) Chia seeds
Some may say it’s not officially a “super-food”, but let’s bend the rules for this one – it just rocks! Chia seeds are jam-packed full of heart-loving-omega-3s, antioxidants, fiber, protein and a number of vitamins and minerals. If you need energy, reach for the chia seeds! They’re best soaked in water or nut milk before eating to aid digestion.

What to look for: Chia seeds come as white or black whole-seeds and you can get them in their ground form. Opt for organic, where possible, and make sure they’re dry in the packet.

Other worthy mentions:

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Image sourced from Pinterest
  • SUPER GREEN ALGAE – full of blood-cleansing goodness and antioxidants.
  • COCONUTS – jam-packed with natural electrolytes to help hydrate your cells.
  • BEE POLLEN – rich in minerals and amino acids.
  • CAMU CAMU – natures wonderful sweetener and is a top source of vitamin C and antioxidants. This superfood is great for a super immune system.
  • CHLORELLA – a great way to detox the body from inside out.
  • WHEAT GRASS – can rid the body of toxins, strengthen the immune system and improve digestion!
  • STEVIA – this “sweet-leaf” is natures wonder sweetener – with zero calories, no impact on blood sugar and in its whole- form is a super-antioxidant.

Super Graciously Green Smoothie Recipe

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Image sourced from Pinterest
  • 1 TBS. spirulina powder (muscle building) – start with 1 tsp. and work your way up if you’re a newbie…
  • Handful of organic spinach
  • 1⁄4 avocado (good fats)
  • 1 tsp. of maca powder (healing and calming) – add more as you get used to it
  • 1⁄4 frozen banana (energy)
  • 1 TBS. cocoa powder (super antioxidant)
  • 1⁄4 cup frozen blueberries (vitamins and antioxidants)
  • 1 TBS. organic raw tahini
  • 2 drops of stevia liquid to sweeten (alternatives could be coconut nectar or raw honey)
  • 2 cups fresh coconut water
  • Blend

Get super and get healthy mamas, till next time!

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