Create Mighty Meals with These Extraordinary Ingredients
Superfoods: what’s the truth behind them and what makes them so powerful? Superfoods are naturally derived foods that harness a remarkable amount of healing nutrients. What makes these whole foods so “super” is their attributes of being low-calorie while delivering an unequated density of nutrients and notable amount of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory components.
Superfoods are often mistaken as being exotic, exuberant and difficult to obtain. The truth is, however, some of the world’s most nutritious foods can be found at local farmers markets or grocery stores. Beets, basil, turmeric, organic sauerkraut, walnuts, ginger, garlic, Swiss chard, and blueberries are all excellent sources of body-loving antioxidants and detoxifying enzymes. They are not sourced from far off lands but, rather, can be found growing in our own Lynchburg community. There are many ways to implement these nourishing gems into every meal—from breakfast all the way to your evening dessert.
Holistic health and functional nutrition are imperative elements to my daily life—and superfoods are essential to that whole food regimen. In my continual pursuit to grow my knowledge of organic and integrative living, I find that superfoods never fail to be on the top of the list for powerhouse forms of food in every culture around the globe. I committed to implementing them into my diet about seven years ago and, since then, I have seen a remarkable change in my overall health and wellbeing. I now use these foods as medicine and have personally experienced their power—they’ve given a newfound energy to my body and have kept my immune system in elite condition.
In light of this, I’ve become acquainted with superfood forms that go a step beyond the ordinary. Learn more about my top choices.
Then, on the following pages, I’ll tell you a few ways to use these ingredients in your kitchen.
Goji Berries—These dried crimson berries are native to China and are packed with vitamins, protein and even 15x more iron than spinach.
Antioxidant-rich goji berries can be eaten raw, infused into herbal teas, alternative medicines and wines as well as used to garnish oatmeal, yogurt bowls and pancakes.
Matcha—Matcha is a special powdered form of green tea leaves—with 10x more antioxidants than average green tea (and 14x the amount found in blueberries), including cancer-fighting EGCG catechins. Matcha is rich in fiber, chlorophyll and vitamins that detoxify the body and relax the mind. Matcha’s caffeine content boosts metabolism, burns calories and aids in energy production. I typically drink one to three cups of Matcha per day and sometimes incorporate it into my smoothies!
Maca Powder—Maca powder is derived from the Maca root native to Peru. This superfood is packed with minerals and vitamins B1, B2, C and E. As an adaptogenic plant extract, Maca increases the body’s ability to realign optimal functions by rebalancing hormones and resisting the damaging effects of stress. This powder is a delectable alternative to conventional sweeteners, with a pleasant malty taste. I typically use the powder in smoothies, nut-milk adaptogenic lattes and feature them in my energy balls (see recipe on the next page).
Cacao Nibs—These crunchy superfood nibs replace the craving for dark chocolate, as they tend to garnish my yogurt bowls, oatmeal, mint green smoothies, and even baked goods. Cacao nibs, especially in their raw form, are some of the most antioxidant-rich foods. They contain a significant amount of phytonutrients that ward off damaging free radicals.
Chia + Flax Seed—These nutrient dense seeds pack a punch for their size! They are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, are rich in antioxidants, and they provide absorbable fiber, iron, and calcium. As with chia, flax finds its way into all my morning bowls and even as a “flax” egg alternative in baking!
Hemp Seed—Hemp seeds are packed with an impressive amount of protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. These little seeds also contain a good amount of fiber, minerals, in addition to traces of cannabidiol, which reduces inflammation, regulates the immune system and protects the brain. These are great in oatmeal, over pancakes, and as smoothie or salad toppers.
Adaptogenic Energy Balls
(Raw, Vegan, Gluten Free)
(All are organic and locally sourced when possible.)
1 cup dry pitted dates, finely chopped
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/2 cup flax seeds
1/2 cup walnuts
2 tablespoons raw cacao powder
2 teaspoons virgin coconut oil
Dried flowers, unsweetened coconut flakes, chia + flax, hemp seed, raw rolled oats, cacao nibs, raw cacao powder, pumpkin seeds, pink himalayan salt, melted dark chocolate and optional: bee pollen, freeze dried berries, organic spirulina, adaptogenic powders (maca, medicinal mushrooms, ashwagandha)
1. Place pitted dates and virgin coconut oil in the food processor or Vitamix, and process to obtain fine, sticky crumbles.
2. Add the cacao powder and chia seeds. Pulse 1-2 times to incorporate.
3. Use your palms to form small balls.
4. Spread cacao powder and desired toppings on a plate or large piece of parchment paper. Roll balls over toppings to make them pretty.
5. Store in the refrigerator for a maximum of two weeks or freeze them for future use.
6. Share them with all your friends and your friends’ friends!
By Spencer Bilek | PHOTOS BY ASHLEE GLEN