I get asked all the time about the “weird” things I add into our smoothies and foods. Although they are becoming more well known, there are a lot of people who are unaware of the benefits they can receive from seeds, nuts, oils, algae and even chocolate! In this post I will outline all these wonderful “super foods” that are available to you.
Yes, I am talking about the seeds you may remember from those “ch-ch-ch-chia” commercials. They are more than little seeds that will sprout you a pet or Obama’s hair (yes, there is a Chia Obama). Anyway, chia seeds are growing in popularity because they can be used in many ways. When added to a small amount of liquid, they become gelatinous. This makes a great egg replacer if you are allergic to eggs or vegan and it can also become a “pudding” if you add it to a non dairy milk. As far as benefits, they are most well known for being high in essential fatty acids. They also have a lot of fiber which helps aid in weight loss because they will make you feel fuller without eating a lot. They contain protein, calcium and manganese too. They have a slightly nutty taste and are easily hidden in smoothies, baked goods or oatmeal.
I will start off with saying, no you will not get high by eating these. Although it has the same name, hemp seeds come from a different species of cannabis and contain very little to no THC, which is the active drug in marijuana. Not to mention, I don’t have to smuggle them through the grocery store. Hemp seeds are a great choice for omega 3 fatty acids which may help reduce inflammation, cholesterol, blood pressure and risk of heart disease. They are a complete source of protein which is great if you are vegetarian or vegan and 3 tablespoons contain 10 grams of protein. You can add them to smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal or salads.
Like chia and hemp, flax is a great source of omega 3 and fiber. It can help with weight loss, lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, constipation and controlling blood sugar levels. It can be found in seed form, ground up into a meal or turned into an oil. I use it as a meal or oil. I add the oil to smoothies. The meal, I add to pancakes, muffins, cookies and added with a little bit of water, it becomes another great egg replacer. In my opinion, it is virtually flavorless so it is easy to get a daily dose without feeling like you’re taking a nasty supplement or vitamin.
Spirulina is an algae. It is a great addition to green smoothies as it is packed with iron, complex carbs, vitamins A (beta carotene), K and B complex, chlorophyll, zinc, protein, manganese and MUCH more. It helps fight free radicals and maintain a healthy immune system. I will warn that it has a taste that takes getting use to. Being an algae, you can probably imagine how it tastes 😉
Beautiful deep purple in color. Great when added to smoothies. Rich in antioxidents, amino acids, fatty acids and fiber. The antioxidents are great for fighting free radicals, healthy for your heart and energizing. Acai also comes in juice or frozen smoothie packs.
Aloe Vera (No picture because it looks like water)
Found in a juice and added to smoothies or drink it straight up. It is a great healer for the inside. Helps cleanse bowels and aid in digestion health to help boost your immune system. Also, pretty flavorless.
With a malt like flavor, it is great to add to “dessert” like smoothies. Studies have shown that maca powder boosts energy and balances hormones. It also has been shown to help lower blood pressure.
These pink, flat, chewy berries come dried. Some people can eat them straight up, they are a bit tart for my liking so I toss them into smoothies. They are great in immune boosting smoothies or when you have the flu or a cold. Rich in riber, antioxidents and vitamin C.
Ever since we have been dairy free, raw cashews (meaning they have not been roasted and salted like most store bought nuts) have become one of my favorite ingredients to use. Not only do they add a creamy texture to smoothies, but you can make “cheese” cake and “cheese” sauce for pasta, and even “cheese” for pizza using them. They, like other nuts contain protein. Cashews are also a good source of iron, vitamin K, magnesium, copper and phosphorus.
Like cashews, I opt for raw unsalted almonds. You can make your own almond milk with them or add them to smoothies. There is a recipe in the OhSheGlows cookbook for amazing almond croutons that I add to all of my salads. I also have fallen in love with almond butter and add it to a lot of my smoothies for protein, fiber and good fats. They are also rich in iron, calcium, folate and vitamin E.
This is another one that seems to be gaining popularity. Many will say you can use coconut oil for everything! Smoothies, baked goods, cooking, sunscreen, oil pulling, all over as a lotion after a shower, diaper rash and much, much, MUCH more! It is an oil, but at room temperature, it is a solid. Unless it is summer time, you will probably find that your coconut oil turns to it’s liquid form once the temperature gets around 75 degrees. You can get unrefined which will taste like coconut or refined that won’t have a coconut taste. Many get worried about it because it is a saturated fat, however studies have shown that the saturated fats in coconut oil are different than what you will find in regular butter or cheese. Coconut oil has also been found to be antiviral, antibacterial AND antifungal! I know many people who have personally used it on yeast rashes or for mouthwash (oil pulling) to remove bacteria from the mouth and gums. It can aid in weight loss because of the fatty acids, making you feel fuller. Other studies have shown that the fats in coconut oil can help with many illnesses of the brain such as seizures or Alzheimer’s. I like to add it to smoothies and bake with it. In many recipes, it can replace other oil or butter, which is great for those of us who are dairy free!
Now to my favorite! Cuz it’s chocolate! The nibs can be tossed into smoothies for little bits of chocolate. Some people will eat them plain but they remind me of baker’s chocolate where it is very bitter. So I prefer to mix them into smoothies, ice cream or yogurt. I use the powder most often. I use it in smoothies to create delicious chocolate “shakes” or in place of cocoa powder in baked goods such as cakes, brownies, cookies etc. because it is much less processed than cocoa powder. Cacao powder is rich in antioxidants, iron and magnesium. It has been shown to be heart healthy, boost energy and mood.
All of these can be found in a natural health foods store or online. I love to buy from Vitacost online because their prices are great. They have great customer service, fast shipping and free shipping options. If you would like to order, go here to receive $10 off your first order of $30 or more. I have used Vitacost’s brand, Nutiva and Navitas Naturals.
I personally have used any of these super foods any time, even while pregnant or nursing. Of course, you should always ask your medical provider before using something new or use your own judgment after doing your own research.
What super foods have you tried recently or have been wanting to try? Tell me in the comments below.
**Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with nor do I receive compensation from the brands or companies listed above. Just a happy consumer sharing the brands and companies I use and love 🙂
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