The world of ‘wellness’ can be a funny one sometimes. It’s a bit like the fashion industry – where fads come and go before you can say royal jelly, and one is that populated by people who tend to forget not everybody is concerned about the mercury level in that tuna sashimi you’re about to eat.
I admit, striving for optimal wellness can be addictive. I’m won’t shy away from the fact that I can be found on my lunch break wandering the library isles skimming through books on conscious eating, quitting/not quitting sugar and heavenly wholegrains. But I like to believe that being ‘healthy,’ and being conscious of how you treat your body isn’t some exclusive club. You don’t have to show your yoga mat and coconut water at the door to be let in. Everyone has a right to understand nutrition, and make small changes in their life to feel better, feel good and hopefully, eventually, even great! And I believe the best place to start breaking down the barriers is at the health food store.
It can be overwhelming. It can be crammed. It can most definitely involve pierced and tattooed staff wearing clothing made out of hemp. Don’t lose faith! Once you master the health food store, you’re well on your way to making smarter decisions about your food and overall health. You might never look at a conventional supermarket in the same way. Hell, you might even do a little happy dance when you find a brand new health food store right around the corner from your house!*
* I did this last week.
For many, the most daunting, confusing and anticipated section of any health store is the rows upon rows of ‘superfoods.’
So what does a food have to do to be classified as super? It just needs to be good for your health. There’s no science behind the term superfood – it’s mostly used to define foods that are nutrient dense, or particularly high in a certain type of vitamin, mineral or perhaps antioxidants or good fats. I personally tend to see all whole, natural foods as ‘super’ because they all have a role to play in the body. Vegetables are super! Fruit is super!
BUT the superfoods you’re probably thinking of (and heard lots about because they’re awesome!) are cacao, chia seeds, goji berries or even acai right? They’re new, exotic and can be damn hard to know what to do with. So let me break some down for you – and get rid of that health food store paralysis.
I tend to use these ingredients as little ‘boosters’ to my everyday meals. I’m pretty liberal and loose with my measurements, a handful tossed over a salad, a spoonful in a smoothie or mixing bowl. The key is to just get involved and slowly work you way into using these new and exciting ingredients. You don’t have to use every single one. You don’t have to eat them every single day. Just experiment and enjoy being, um, super.
LUCUMA: The lucuma fruit comes from Peru (surprise surprise!) and you’ll most likely find the powered form in health food stores. It’s the newest superfood on the block, and has risen in popularity due to its sweet caramel flavour, and low glycemic index. Nutritionally-dense, lucuma comes with tonnes of antioxidants like beta carotene and is also a top source for complex carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins such as niacin (B3) and minerals such as zinc, calcium and iron. Throw a teaspoon into smoothies and puddings for a creamy texture. Brand in my cupboard right now: Loving Earth Raw Lucuma Powder
GOJI BERRIES: Native to the Himalayan Mountains, there little berries contain all essential amino acids – a unique quality in fruit! In fact, goji berries have the highest concentration of protein of any fruit going around. They are also packed with Vitamin C, fibre and have 15 times the iron of spinach. Go you good things! Did I mention they contain 21 trace minerals such as calcium, zinc and selenium? Use liberally in slices and bliss balls, drop a few in you herbal tea, or just have a handful as your morning snack. Brand in my cupboard right now: Natural Remedies Heavenly Goji Berries
HEMP SEEDS:A new addition to my pantry that I’m loving! Hemp seeds are a great alternative to soy as they’re easily digestible and are a source of complete protein. They are full of essential fatty acids, and trace minerals such as magnesium, calcium and iron. Hemp seeds have a nutty flavour and can also be used to create oils and rich body creams.
PS: If you think you’re going to cook up a batch of hemp brownies and have the time of your life, ahh think again. Hemp seeds have no drug-like affect as they don’t contain THC (the ingredient present in cannabis). Brand in my cupboard right now: Hemp Foods Australia Organic Hulled Hemp Seeds
CHIA SEEDS:One of my favourite and most versatile protein sources. These little seeds soak up liquid like no one’s business, creating a pudding/jelly like consistency when combined with milk or water. They’re rad for digestion, have more calcium than milk and are a quality source of Omega 3s. They’re also gluten free! They have a very neutral taste, and take on the flavour of whatever you combine them with. Try them in a coconut pudding or thrown them in a smoothie. Brand in my cupboard right now: Nature First Premium Chia Seeds
SUPER GREENS:I like to keep a good, green nutritional support powder in my cupboard as my personal health insurance. When I’m busy, or feel like I haven’t packed enough green leafy’s into my diet– I add this booster to my morning smoothie, or incorporate it into a slice or bliss ball. Different brands/blends contain a mix of nutrient-rich greens such as spirulina and chlorella, fruits, vegetables and berries – as well as a mix of herbs, vitamins and minerals. Go green or go home! Brand in my cupboard right now: Synergy Natural Premium Super Greens / Nuzest Good Green Stuff
CACAO:The main confusion with cacao is how it’s differs to traditional cocao. I’ve got through a few of the differences here. Cacao in it’s raw form is your best friend when creating healthy chocolaty treats! It’s very high in antioxidants and magnesium. It’s also been touted to improve your mood and act as an appetite suppressant. Combine with medjool dates for chocolate indulgence at it’s finest. (See raw chocolate brownie). Brand in my cupboard right now: Organic Road Raw Cacao Powder
CASHEW BUTTER & RAW ORGANIC HONEY & COCONUT OIL / BUTTER:Cashew Butter: Not very mysterious – ground up cashews turned into a creamy, delicious butter. Yes please! My favoutite afternoon snack is cashew butter dolloped onto slices of apple. Dairy, sugar and gluten free. Also try almond butter, or brazil nut butter. Brand in my cupboard right now: Artisana Raw Organic Cashew Butter
Raw Organic Honey: There’s a lot of talk about what is the best sweetener for you. I tend to lean towards all sweeteners in moderation, as long as they’re a natural form like honey, maple syrup, dates or rice syrup. Raw honey has a fabulously creamy texture that I adore – it’s like eating straight from the hive. Did you know the colour and consistency of raw honey varies depending on what flower the bees have foraged from? Cool. I add a small amount to smoothies sometimes, or heat and drizzle over quinoa porridge in the mornings. Brand in my cupboard right now: Ambrosia Raw Organic Honey
Coconut Oil/Butter: Olive oil is still my go-to oil for everyday cooking, but for baking and raw desserts I like using coconut oil. When cooled it turns solid – so it’s perfect for making cold desserts like raw cheesecake. Coconut enthusiasts claim many health benefits of consuming coconut oil; from weight loss, healthy skin, thyroid support and protection from cancer-causing free radicals. As coconut products are relatively new on the scene, I take a moderate approach – sticking to fresh coconut water in the summer, and a moderate amount of coconut oil/butter in cooking and baking. Brand in my cupboard right now: SF Health Foods Organic Coconut OilThrow together bliss balls
The best thing about having a range of these superfood boosters in your cupboard is the fun you can have combining and playing around – knowing that the end result is going to deliver you some sweet-ass nutrients and energy! I surprised myself with these awesome energy bliss balls – they really zing/pop in your mouth, almost like sherbet (I think it’s the goji berries!). I call them ‘throw together’ bliss balls, because they are a result of grabbing stuff off the shelves and throwing them into the food processor without a recipe. Measurements are approximate!
Makes approx. 12 bliss balls
Bliss Ball Ingredients:
- 12 pitted medjool dates
- 1 tablespoon of super greens (I used Nuzest ‘Good Green Stuff’)
- 2 tablespoons goji berries
- 1/2 cup chia seeds
- 1 1/2 cups raw walnuts
- 1 cup Loving Earth caramalised buckinis (buckwheat groats)
- Shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1 tablespoon lucuma powder
How to go about it:
* Throw all bliss ball ingredients into a food processor and pulse until you have a rough mixture that sticks together well. Roll the mixture into even sized balls using your hands.
* For the coating, pulse coconut and lucuma quickly in the food processor. Place in a large bowl big enough to roll the balls around in – do this until each ball is well coated.
* Keep in the fridge in an airtight container.