Celebrating Superfoods

superfoods-lacy-young

Wondering what actually makes a food SUPER? In short super foods are over-achievers. They go above and beyond and are packed with nutrients (ie. nutrient dense). They are big on healing power! Sharing four of my favorite super foods with you today! Which will you add to your diet?

To your health + happiness! Lacy

Chia Seeds

Flashback to television commercials in the 80’s: Cha cha cha chia! I got a chia pet for Christmas one year; did you ever have one? I had no idea back then that the little black and white seeds from the same plant were a nutrition packed superfood or that chia actually means “strength” in the Mayan language.

Chia seeds are a highly digestible whole grain food with a mild nutty flavor and can be eaten in so many ways: sprinkle them on veggies, stir-frys, cereals, yogurt, salads and pretty much anything! I call them natures sprinkles! You can eat them raw, cooked or as sprouts. I love to add 1-2 Tablespoons of the raw seeds to my smoothies. You can mix the seeds into flour and bake with them, or mix them with water to form a gel that can be used as a vegan egg substitute.

Chia seeds are packed with omega fatty acids, protein, fiber, antioxidants, calcium and other vitamins and minerals. They increase energy, endurance and cognitive function and decrease bad cholesterol and inflammation. They can absorb over 10x their weight in water, which helps keep you feeling full and can reduce overeating. They slow down carbohydrate breakdown in the gut which can help keep blood sugar levels balanced and potentially combat type 2 diabetes.

As tempting as it may sound, don’t overdo it...There can be too much of a good thing when it comes to chia! Keep your daily dose under 4 Tablespoons (at first) to avoid an upset stomach.

Maca

Maca is a root tuber that can be sliced up and eaten raw, roasted, boiled or baked, or made into powder or tablets. Maca is known worldwide as a libido enhancer and fertility booster. On the streets of Peru you can order Frog Juice AKA Peruvian Viagra, made with freshly pulverized frog and maca root. Eeewww! I think I will just keep adding maca root powder to my smoothies.

In addition to its positive effects on both the male and female reproductive systems, maca nourishes and supports the endocrine system, helping our body cope with stress, fight fatigue + depression. With 5x more protein than a potato + 4x more fiber it naturally balances hormones and is excellent for combating the symptoms of menopause! It is loaded with calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and essential fatty acids. It's rich in B12 + protein which is super helpful for vegans! In women it helps get rid cramps, anxiety and mood swings (don't take if you're pregnant or breast feeding).

You will want to ease into it. Taking too much too quickly will give you a wired feeling. Start small with a tsp per day in a smoothie and build up to 1-2 tablespoons per day. Taste is sort of malty sweet. You won't notice it mixed into smoothies. You will notice it if you're making desserts, baking with it or adding it to tea/ coffee.

Camu Camu

Not only do I love the way all these superfoods taste, I love the way they sound! When I say camu camu I think of a camel crossed with a cow. A camel moo-ing. I digress.

Camu Camu trees contain a fruit that contains the highest recorded source of Vitamin C on the planet. Woah!! The fruit is also packed with beta-carotene, fatty acids, amino acids, protein and iron. These nutrients make camu camu beneficial for the immune system, circulatory system, respiratory system and our nervous system. They help our gums, eyes and skin, and in general help us maintain our overall health.

You can find camu camu in powder, juice or capsules. The fruit is extremely sour so it is typically not eaten whole. Make sure you buy it from a good source as over-harvesting has lead to sustainability issues.

Cacao

Cacao beans (or nibs when they are broken down into little pieces) are the raw, unprocessed nutrient-dense form of chocolate that are taken out of the hard pods on the cacao tree. You can eat them raw, roasted, brewed, powdered or as an extract.

Cacao has up to 4x more antioxidants than green tea. The increase heart function and decrease stress. They boost serotonin and phenylethylamine levels (natural mood enhancers) thus benefiting depression. Cacao is a natural multivitamin and contains minerals and essential fatty acids. Plus, it tastes AMAZING!