Superfoods – what’s so great about them?

Whilst I am not fond of the word ‘Superfood’ itself, these foods are not going to don a cape and start saving the world, I do believe that they can play a major part in saving your health, and therefore probably do deserve a title as strong as this. They are super! and they are food! Ok, justification for the title over, let’s get on with the key foods.

Cacao

cacao spoon from google images

Apart from being a fun work to say (and yes for some reason I always want to shout it like a bird call…) this yumptious bean from South America or Mexico is arguably the king of all the ‘super’ foods.

This is the highest anti oxidant food ON THE PLANET!!!!  Antioxidants stabilize and ultimately destroy free radicals in your cells and tissues, meaning that they help fight diseases (mainly heart disease and cancer) and can help with longevity of life. Raw Cacao (nibs or powder) contain plenty of B vitamins, Magnesium, Iron and Chromium.

Adding it to your diet can improve your cardio health, bones, cell repair, decrease inflammation and increase your mood and energy levels.

Add powder to breakfast bowls, energy balls, make chocolate desserts, chia puddings, smoothies, chillies, chuck that stuff in everything!

Spirulina

spirulina powder images from well being secrets.com

 

I first came across this wonderful ‘weed’ in New Zealand, and I am amazed just how unused it still is in my home country. It’s a type of algae and it’s normal found in powder form. Grown in both fresh and salt water. A little goes a long way, and gram for gram it is the highest source of complete protein on the planet – and also contains B vitamins, copper, iron, omega 3’s and magnesium, potassium and manganese – wow!

Adding this bad boy to your diet can help with muscle repair and growth, again fight those pesky free radicals, reduce inflammations, help against heart disease and reduce cholesterol.

Easiest way to eat it if you don’t want to make ALL your food green is to add it to a smoothie or just blend it in with some coconut water and neck it back!

Goji Berries

goji-berries photo from bestherbalhealth.com

 

Used in Chinese medicine for over 6,000 years, these little shrivelled up red berries are from China and Tibet. They contain 18 amino acids and 21 minerals, Iron, Beta-Carotene and Vitamin C.

So, again these berries, like the humble blueberry (which by the way are a cheaper alternative), also come up high on the anti oxidant charts, with all the benefits formerly mentioned plus also help with healthy skin and building your immune system to help fight the common cold.

Kale, the lead singer of the Cruiciferous Vegetables Band – and the rest of the band  – Broccoli, Sprouts, Cabbage and Cauliflower.

image of cruicerfous veg from pblifestyles.com.au

 

So, at last, a super hero food that we can all get at regular cost from our local supermarket or green grocer. Hurrah! Rich in nutrients, including several carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin); vitamins C, E, and K; folate; and minerals. They also are a good fibre source.  Currently in research with National Cancer Institute these dark green vegetables should be included in everyone’s diet to help prevent cancer. They also contain the anti-oxidants so helping with chronic illnesses such as auto immune disease and Lupus. Not just that – they are yummy and cheap, and super easy to cook and add to all your meals. Stir fries, soups, curries, salads and so on.

Chia Seeds

benefits-of-eating-chia-seeds photo from authority nutrition

 

Chia seeds are normally from South or Central America, and are related to the mint family! Who knew!

These mighty seeds contain protein, fibre, Magnesium, Manganese and Omega’s. They were used by the Aztec and Mayans (Chia means ‘energy’ in ancient Mayan) to build pyramids and really really large steps…

As well as this they provide all the anti oxidant benefits mentioned previously and help muscle repair. As they are high in protein and low in calories so they can help with weight loss. Because they are filling, and expand in liquid or if used whole expand when inside your stomach, making you feel fuller for longer.

My favourite is chia pudding made with coconut milk, but you can add them to pretty much anything and they work well in smoothies and breakfast bowls.

With all this information now in your brain, you can see why these foods have been given the accolade of ‘SUPER’ – and rightly so. Yes, apart from the green veg, they are a little pricey, but to help you justify the expense, what price do you put on your health and welfare? I wanted this blog to help  people become the ‘best versions of themselves’ so surely the benefits out-weigh the costs? Also a little goes a long way.

You deserve it.

 

Plant Based? Raw? Detox? Juicing?

The health food business is booming, and with so many options what one is right for you? I have a small but growing obsession with watching food documentaries on YouTube, as interesting as they are some of them seem downright unattainable or non sustaining (yep I’m talking about you HCLF-ers)

So, what should you choose? I’m going to just put it out there and say, how about ALL of them? All of the options in the title, Plant Based, Raw, Detox, Juicing….they can all make up a balanced, healthy, diet – and remember whenever I use the word DIET in this blog it will be referring to the food you habitually eat, rather than the food you eat to lose weight. If however, you are over-weight or obese, then changing your current diet to an all natural, vegetarian and more plant-based diet is going to help you lose weight. But maintaining this FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE is what is going to keep you healthy, forever.

 

Beet Treat, Raw Juice
Beetroot and Ginger Juice

 

Now, I am certainly not demanding you all become vegetarians or vegans, but maybe think about the amount of meat you consume and where it comes from. For example, I would only now eat meat if I knew its provenance (most good supermarkets and butcher’s should be able to tell you where the meat has come from) and I will only eat seafood, especially shellfish if I can see the sea (ok, within reason, but you get my drift? I once got food poisoning from Ceviche in a five-star restaurant in Marrakech, go figure). So that aside, do eat meat if you desire just be mindful of what you eat.

 

Beetroot and Quinoa Burger
Beetroot and Quinoa Burger, Orange and Carrot Salad

 

Next, bring more fruit and vegetables onto your plate. No question, no explanation, just DO IT. It will change your skin, hair, energy levels, internal organs – really! Try to eat at least 8 portions of fruit and veg per day – and if you think that’s a lot, the simplest way to do this is in a juice or smoothie. You can even put all 8 in one glass. Done.

 

floras and smoothie
Green Juice and Fruit Salad

 

I get inspiration from all over the internet, pinterest, and the following blogs which make eating vegetables a work of art…..My New Roots is my favourite veggie inspiration site Another resource for plant-based and vegetarian recipes Oh She Glows

Also this documentary changed my (eating) life – Forks over Knives

Raw food is another easy addition. When I mentioned to an old colleague I was eating more raw food these days he thought I meant raw meats and sushi etc…..but this simply means food you do not heat. Salads, juices, smoothies, energy balls, the list goes on and on check out  the wonderful Kriss Carr for some ideas, but I must stress here that my personal opinion is not to eat purely a raw food diet, just mix it up with the other things I am suggesting.

 

veg wrap
Raw Vegetable Wraps

 

Detoxing – I’m not a massive fan of detoxing but I do see it’s worth and especially think it is a fabulous way of resetting your body if you have a ‘bad’ diet. Once you have done a detox you will be more mindful of what you pollute your body with (toxins) and it can help you kick-start your new healthy life.

I hope to bring many recipes to this blog in time and some guides to eating healthily whilst travelling.

 

noodle soup, thailand, south east asia
vegetable noodle soup with tofu (South East Asia)

 

My golden rules (I will keep coming back to these):

No processed foods – EVER

Natural sugars only 

Eat seasonal, fresh produce where possible

Limit you alcohol (I’m still working on this!!) 

Limit your caffeine (again, work in progress for me) 

A LITTLE of everything in moderation, but try to be strict with this one, a piece of chocolate (milk) or cookie or a plate of fries once in a while, but not a whole day of ‘sod it all’ !

 

Diet – habitual nourishment?

I’m using the word diet here in its noun form, as the Oxford Dictionary describes it ‘The kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats’

NOT the verb ‘dieting’ so don’t panic I’m not about to either go on a diet myself or convince you to.

I just am so passionate these days about healthy eating. I have been a 5:2 vegetarian for 18 months, and I now only eat fish and seafood. I’m not saying this is the way you should eat, but this particular way of eating works for me, giving me the essential calories I need to create enough energy to be able to go about my daily business with some vigour!

I made this decision to become healthier and also hopefully keep my weight at a stable, healthy weight. For many years after retiring from performing dance I tried many different ‘diets’ and through this I think I became a little obsessed with body image and what I should or shouldn’t look like, rather than whether I felt good, had energy and built up a strong immune system so I don’t get ill in the future.

Maybe it was coming from the competitive world of dance, or using mirrors in the dance studio every day, or maybe I would like to blame the media, and the worlds current obsession with what is or isn’t ‘beautiful’

 

photo from quickmeme.com
photo from quickmeme.com

 

I know, easy for you to say Sophia Loren, but I truly do believe this sentiment. I wish that the media could send this message to every young girl out there, but alas it is not so and we are feeling the pressure younger and more and more to be ‘perfect’

Anyway, I am digressing slightly, I would like to be able to share with you some of the health and nutrition tips I have been following over the last two or three years, just in case people out there are still uneducated about how to look after yourself and become beautiful from the inside.

So, please subscribe or keep checking the blog as I try to update with my health tips as often as possible.

 

healthy lifestyle meme