In the last few years, the health food world has been abuzz with superfoods. Often, these foods can be challenging to find or expensive, so how do you pick which ones to buy?
Of course, the fresh produce items at your local market are superfoods, whether we’re talking about an apple, carrots, squash or spinach. But sometimes we like to add a little nutritional pizzazz to our dishes – this is culinary nutrition, after all. Superfoods are typically dense and mighty: that means you probably don’t need to use a whole lot of them!
Here, we share our five favourite superfoods, along with suggestions for how to use ’em for extra oomph and punch in your culinary creations.
Cacao powder is worlds away from the sugar-laden, processed candy bars at the grocery store. In its raw form, cacao powder is a rich source of iron and magnesium, plus it is a powerhouse of antioxidants.
How to Use It: Do we need to tell you how to use chocolate…(wink)? We love adding raw cacao to smoothies, elixirs, raw energy nuggets and bars, baked goods, spreads, porridges, granola, puddings, and of course homemade chocolate.
These small, nutty seeds are a great plant-based source of protein – they contain all of the essential amino acids we need. Hemp is chock-full of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats, plus they contain the ideal ratio of omega 6: omega 3. Hemp seeds blend (or can be chewed) very easily, which makes them easy to digest and absorb.
How to Use It: Hemp seeds blend beautifully into smoothies, or can be sprinkled on top of soups, salads, oatmeal or steamed veggies. Since the delicate oils in hemp are sensitive to heat, light and air, don’t cook or bake them. Don’t cook with hemp oil, either – use it as a finishing oil.
Goji berries have been used historically as a healing herb in Chinese medicine. They are also a complete protein, are a boon of antioxidants, help to boost the immune system and contain 21 trace minerals.
How to Use It: Goji berries are delicious on their own as a snack, add them to trail mix, put them in baked goods, add them to smoothies, porridge or salads, steep them with your favourite tea, or simmer them in vegetable or bone broth.
Maca is a hearty, hardy root that grows high in the mountains. It’s a great adaptogen, which means it can help our bodies adjust to whatever they need adapting to. Maca is used to reduce stress, boost energy, balance hormones and increase libido, and it contains a wide range of vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins, Vitamin C, and calcium.
How to Use It: Maca has a strong, malt-like flavour, so we suggest starting off with small amounts. It works well in smoothies, elixirs, teas, chocolate and baked goods, plus, like gojis, you can also add them to broths for extra nutrition.
We love medicinal mushrooms like reishi, shiitake and chaga. They contain anti-cancer properties and immune-boosting constituents called beta glucans. Some mushrooms, like reishi, also help to nourish the nervous system and reduce stress.
How to Use It: We love using mushrooms in smoothies, teas and elixirs, but you can also add them to your favourite soups and stews.