by Holistic Plant-based Chef Ash Agnite
Photo by DEFINE foods
“SUPER” foods. What does that even mean?… and how does one use them?
Superfoods are classified by high nutritional value, usually containing an abundant source of nutrients like minerals, vitamins, antioxidants & more. Often, superfoods have disease preventative benefits and a wide arrange of other positive effects and uses. They benefit your overall health and physical performance if incorporated in your regular meals. Also, if you have specific dietary restrictions or necessities, it’s always useful to be aware of ingredients that allow you to get nutrients without going outside your restrictions!
Incorporating superfoods into your diet doesn’t have to be complicated. A lot of superfoods are available in most supermarkets around you. Here’s a quick guide to the most popular superfoods, their benefits, and quick tips to incorporate them in your movement lifestyle.
The use of chia seeds has really exploded in the past 3 years. The most widely known varieties are the black and white seeds and they can be found pretty much anywhere now.
Benefits: Chia seeds are high in protein and high in fiber, which automatically helps in weight loss and management. Chia seeds also have a higher amount of calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, and protein than dairy – gram per gram. They are also a great source of calcium for those who are dairy free. Add about 3-4 tablespoons of chia seeds to your diet each day to dramatically boost the nutritional value of your meals.
Uses: Top your smoothies, smoothie bowls, yogurt, warm oatmeal, water, raw juices, and salads with Chia seeds for texture. Have you ever experienced Chia seed pudding with almond milk, vanilla & cinnamon. Check out this recipe by DEFINE foods. You never know if you’ll like it until you try, so get creative!
RAW CACAO NIBS/POWDER
I mean, who doesn’t like chocolate, right? Cacao nibs & powder come from the cacao seed or beans & is where the raw form of chocolate is born. Raw cacao nibs & powder are an excellent source of magnesium, iron, and protein.
Benefits: Raw cacao is exceptionally high in antioxidants and proanthocyanidin flavonoids, which can help prevent cellular damage and even repair it! It has also been shown to lower LDL cholesterol, which is the “bad” cholesterol, and therefore, is good for the heart & your arteries.
Uses: Add raw cacao to smoothies, dust desserts with it, mix it in oatmeal, and pop in your favorite brownie or fudge mix for a healthier alternative. You can also find it in DEFINE foods super food Strength Granola.
I basically center my life around Coconut oil. It has amazing benefits, but there is a such thing as too much coconut oil when cooking or ingesting –I know…impossible right!? It entirely depends on your individual constitution, so get to know your body and find out the right amount for you by trying out different ways to incorporate and noticing how you feel. I suggest only using organic and non-GMO coconut oil. Virgin and/or refined both work well for cooking. However, refined organic coconut oil is better for body, hair, and oil pulling.
Benefits: Coconut oil has been used to heal wounds for centuries. It has antibacterial and antiviral properties, keeps the skin supple, as well as pulls bacteria from the mouth (when using as a quick swish or toothpaste). When added to your diet, it has also been shown to improve memory function, curb hunger, inhibit inflammation, increase metabolism, and boost energy — which is great for a lifestyle based around movement or athletics.
Uses: Refined organic coconut oil can be used as a moisturizer for face, hands, and body. It is also a great carrier oil. Check out @DEFINEliving for different essential oils and carriers. You can add it to food or cook with it! I suggest adding a tablespoon to your smoothie/smoothie bowl, salad dressing, latte, hot chocolate, desserts, and so much more!
Maca Powder is another one of those anciently used ingredients that have sparked in popularity these days.
Benefits: Maca Powder supports fertility in both men and women, as well as, supports hormone balancing which naturally helps with mood, energy, and memory. Maca is considered an “adaptogen” which is a name given to certain herbs and plants that adapt to natural stressors in your environment and life like a demanding job, illness, etc. It includes 8 essential amino acids, over 20 additional amino acids, and is also a good source of protein, magnesium, potassium, iron, and phytonutrients.
Uses: Maca Powder can now be found in most grocery stores (easily found at Whole Foods Market). You can add raw organic Maca Powder to smoothies, smoothie bowls, oatmeal, desserts (as a topping), as well as, use it in baking or making raw desserts. You can also find a boost of Maca in DEFINE foods Superfood Cacao-maca Energy truffles.
Quinoa is the most complete protein rich food we can eat. It has all 9 essential amino acids. Need I say more? It comes in different varieties and now can be found in most grocery stores. Did I mention it’s gluten-free?
Benefits: Quinoa has twice the fiber than most grains; this protein-packed grain contains every amino acid, and is particularly rich in lysine, which promotes healthy tissue growth throughout the body. Quinoa is also a good source of iron, magnesium, vitamin E, potassium, and fiber.
Uses: Quinoa has a variety of uses, so this is another one to get creative with! The main uses are replacing rice with meals, tossing it in with a salad for texture, adding to your favorite vegetable soup, and/or mixing it with nuts and fruits to serve as breakfast porridge. It’s also great in veggie burgers.
There has been a lot of buzz recently regarding Goji berries, and a lot of people are confused as to what we use these cute almond shaped berries for and why.
Benefits: Goji berries are loaded with beta-carotene which improves your skin tone and clarity, and it even gives your skin a glow. They are packed with antioxidants and low in calories. They are also known to boost the immune system.
Uses: Goji berries can be added to smoothie bowls or in smoothies, salads, soups, trail mix/energy bars, cereals, oatmeal, and even black tea for a fruity touch.
Hemp seeds are technically a nut and are often referred to as hemp hearts. They are packed full of nutrition.
Benefits: Hemp seeds are a wonderful protein source – with more than 25% of their total calories from high-quality protein. They contain all 9 essential amino acids and are also a great source of arginine and gamma-linolenic acid, which have been linked to lowering the risk of heart disease & rich in healthy fats. Being rich in healthy fats and high in fiber, hemp seeds help you manage your weight and digestive health.
Uses: Hemp seeds can be consumed raw, cooked, or roasted. Again, this one is another one that you can easily throw into smoothies, smoothie bowls, juices, cereals, porridge, energy bars or bites, etc.
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Holistic Plant-Based Chef