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Superfood Spotlight

Superfood Spotlight...Goji Berries!

Superfood Spotlight...Goji Berries!

berries.jpg

What are they?

Goji berries, also known as “wolfberries” are classically grown from an evergreen shrub in China, Mongolia, the Himalayas of Tibet, and in India. They are a member of the Solanaceae (nightshade) family of plants whose relatives include the eggplant, tomato, and peppers. They are most often see in their dried form, and look like red long raisins. These little guys are one of the most nutritionally rich fruits on earth!

Why are they super?

Goji berries hold many health benefits!

  • With all 18 amino acids, they are considered a “complete protein.”
  • They are extremely high in Vitamin A  (beta carotene). In fact, just 1 tablespoon of these berries contains 36% of the daily recommended Vitamin A!
  • They contain more Vitamin C by weight than any other food on Earth!
  • They contain more iron that spinach (sorry Popeye!)
  • They contain many trace minerals our bodies need to function such as magnesium, selenium, zinc, and copper.
  • They are rich in phytonutrients and anti-oxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which are important for healthy eyes and a functioning nervous system.
  • One of the greatest benefits of goji berries is that are high in a compound known as Lycium barbarum, a polysaccharide which as been shown to enhance immunity and reduce inflammation.

How to eat them?

Goji berries are safe for children over the age of 1 in moderation. There are some medications that may adversely interact with goji berries and goji berry juice, so if you have any concerns about feeding your children goji berries, please check with you family doctor in order to avoid the risks. You can soak them and blend them up or eat them dry.

Try these delicious goji berry recipes today!

Cranberry Goji Berry Muffins

Ingredients  (Makes 12)

  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 2 cups flour (whole wheat or a mixture)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 mashed banana
  • 1 cup + a handful of cranberries (frozen ones are ok too)
  • 2 cups of orange juice
  • 3/4 cups of goji berries
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil (melted)
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 2 flax eggs

Directions:

*Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

  1. Take 1/2 c of the orange juice and soak the goji berries in it for 20 minutes.  This will "plump" up the berries a bit.
  2. In a medium to large bowl combine the oats, flour, baking powder, and baking soda.  Mix well.
  3. Mix the coconut oil, flax eggs, remaining orange juice (1 1/2 cups), and mashed banana together in a medium bowl.
  4. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture, combining well.
  5. Add 1 cup of cranberries to the batter, as well as the orange juice/goji mixture.  Mix.
  6. Microwave the remaining cranberries (1 handful) for 1 minute.  Mash them, adding the chia seeds.  Let this sit for 1-2 minutes, and then microwave for 20 seconds.  Add this to the batter.
  7. Grease a muffin tin and place in liners.  Scoop the batter into the liners, filling them up to the top and even higher if possible.  These don't really rise, so it's okay to make them big. Bake for 18-20 minutes.
  8. Allow to cool.

Goji Berry Breakfast Bars:

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium ripe banana
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries, thawed
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/8 cup pomegranate juice
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped dates
  • 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon Goji berries
  • 1 tablespoon raw sunflower seeds
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seed

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mash banana in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  3. Lightly wipe an 8 X 8 baking pan with a small amount of olive oil. Spread mixture into pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Cool on wire rack and cut into bars.
  4. Refrigerate any leftover bars.

Fun fact:

Legend says a man named Li Qing Yuen consumed goji berries daily and lived to be 252 years old!

 

Written by: Dana Stretchberry

Sources:

http://www.naturalnews.com/036003_goji_berries_superfood_nutrients.html

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/goji-berries-worthy-of-the-name-superfood.html

http://greatist.com/health/superfood-goji-berries

http://yogadigest.com/7-fun-facts-about-goji-berries/

Images:

www.topcultured.com

www.bestherbalhealth.com

www.goodlifemississauga.com

www.Huffingtonpost.com

Recipe Adaptation:

http://positiveponderings.blogspot.com/2011/02/healthy-vegan-cranberry-gogi-muffins.html

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/member/views/ANTIOXIDANT-RICH-BREAKFAST-BARS-50167938

Superfood Spotlight...Chia Seeds!

Superfood Spotlight...Chia Seeds!

What is it?

Chia seeds were one of the most popular superfoods in the past few years. But what exactly are they and where do they come from? Chia seeds have been a staple in Mayan and Aztec diets for centuries. They come from a flowering plant in the mint family that is native to Mexico and Guatemala. These seeds were unknown in North America until researcher Wayne Coates began studying them as an alternate crop for farmers in Northern Argentina in 1991. He discovered their great health benefits, which are widespread in North America today. These little seeds come in either white or a dark brown and black color. Unlike flax seeds, chia seeds can be eaten whole and do not have to be ground before consumption in order to access their health benefits.

Superfood Spotlight....Acai Berry!

Superfood Spotlight....Acai Berry!

What is it?

Up until a decade ago, Acai berries were practically unheard of by anyone outside of South America. They are a fruit harvested from Acai palm trees, which are native to the rainforests of South America. It is a reddish, purple fruit that is small and round like a grape and is a relative of the blueberry and the cranberry. The Acai berry itself is 90% seed, covered in a small amount of pulp. The pulp is the only thing that is actually eaten, not the seed. The taste of the Acai berry is often reminiscent of wild berries combined with chocolate!

Superfood Spotlight...Kale!

Superfood Spotlight...Kale!

Everyone has heard of Kale and knows it is good for you, but why? What is it about this magical leafy green that makes it a superfood?

What is it?

Kale is a dark green leafy vegetable that is part of the cabbage family. Although most commonly found as a green color, Kale also comes in other colors such as purple, white, and pink!

Kale does not grow in a tightly bound head like cabbage, but on long stalks that stem out from the center of the bunch. Kale can withstand cold temperatures, therefore it is relatively easy to grow in a variety of different climates.

Kale comes in two forms, one which has smooth leaves (“dino kale”) and another which has curly leaves (“curly kale”).

Why is it super?

  • Kale has more vitamin C than an orange! That’s right! One cup of kale has 134 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C.
  • It has 133 percent of your vitamin A requirement in one cup.
  • Kale is a great non-dairy source of Calcium.
  • One cup contains 2.5 grams of fiber.
  • It is high in iron, which is essential for cell growth, liver function, and more.

How to eat it?

It is important to buy ORGANIC kale, because it is one of the most likely crops to have residual pesticides. Buying it organic or growing it yourself will ensure your kale is free of pesticides!

Kale is best to buy from mid September to late February, during peak growing season and it can be eaten raw or cooked.

Kale Chips (yields 1-2 servings)

Ingredients:

  • approx. 1/2 bunch kale leaves
  • 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or melted coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt or pink Himalayan sea salt
  • (for some extra flavor you can add chili powder, paprika, onion powder, etc!)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Remove leaves from the stems of the kale and roughly tear it up into large pieces. Wash and spin the leaves until thoroughly dry (this is key to getting the kale chips crispy!)
  3. Add kale leaves into a large bowl. Mix the leaves with the oil. Now sprinkle on the spices/seasonings and toss to combine.
  4. Spread out the kale onto the prepared baking sheet into a single layer, being sure not to overcrowd the kale.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes, rotate the pan, and bake for another 12-15 minutes more until the kale begins to firm up. The kale will look shrunken, but this is normal.
  6. Cool the kale on the sheet for 3 minutes before digging in! This really makes all the difference! Enjoy immediately!
kale chips on baking sheet

Your whole family will love helping to make and then crunching on these delicious chips! Plus, they pack a huge amount of nutrition as well!

kids eating kale chips

For Infants:

When your infant is ready to start solids, you can give them kale around 7-9 months. Another benefit of kale is that it is low in oxalate acid, which is known to interfere with the absorption of calcium and iron. A great way to incorporate kale into your infant’s diet is to make your own pureed kale. For infants under 9 months, it is best to steam or cook the kale so that it is easier to digest.

Potato, Kale and Pee Puree (yields ~ 10 oz of baby food)

Ingredients:

  • 1 stem curly kale
  • ½ cup peas
  • 1 small potato
  • 1 ¼ cup water

Directions:

  1. Wash the vegetables and remove the stem of the kale and roughly chop the leaves.
  2. Shuck the peas (frozen is fine too).
  3. Peel and roughly chop the potato.
  4. Boil the water and add all the vegetables. Set heat to high and reduce to low when boiling.
  5. Cook until potatoes are tender.
  6. Puree in your food processor or blender (add more water if not blending all the way).

This puree is hearty and healthy!

Fun fact:

Kale was so popular in nineteenth century Scotland that kale (or “kail” as they called it)  was often used as a generic term for ‘dinner’ (And we can understand why they loved it so much!)

kale in heart shap

 

Written by: Dana Stretchberry

Sources:

http://www.healwithfood.org/health-benefits/kale-superfood.php

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/30/kale-facts-nutrition-info_n_3671210.html

http://foodreference.about.com/od/Ingredients_Basics/a/What-Is-Kale.htm

http://www.veraveg.org/Veg%20History/Veg%20History%20Kale.html

http://healthybabybeans.com/archives/18

 

Recipe Adaptations:

http://ohsheglows.com/2014/03/12/6-tips-for-flawless-kale-chips-all-dressed-kale-chips-recipe/

http://www.farmtotablebabymama.com/potato-kale-pea-baby-food/

 

Images:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/30/kale-facts-nutrition-info_n_3671210.html

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4408/Top-10-Health-Benefits-of-Eating-Kale.html

www.goodmotherdiet.com

www.insonnetskitchen.com

www.make-baby-stuff.com

Superfood Spotlight...Spirulina!

Superfood Spotlight...Spirulina!

What is it?

Spirulina is a natural “microalgae” that grows in environments with moderate temperatures and high levels of sunlight, such as in salty lakes in Mexico and on the African continent. Records of the Spanish conquistadors suggest that the even the Aztecs used Spirulina as a food source! The Spirulina sold today is mostly grown and harvested in commercial ponds such as this one in California.

It is then dried and most commonly added to the diet in a green powder.

spirulina powder

Why is it super?

  • Spirulina is one of the most potent nutrition sources available:
  • It is 60-65% protein- more protein than any other food source available!
  • It has a high calcium content (it is estimated that it contains 26 times the amount of calcium in milk!)
  • It is one of the highest food sources of the essential amino acids GLA, which is known to have anti-inflammatory properties.
  • It contains Omega-3 fats, which helps makes up our cells’ membranes and keeps the nervous system functioning.
  • It is extremely high in Chlorophyll, which helps to remove toxins from the blood.
  • It is high in bio-available iron, therefore making it ideal when the immune system needs a boost!
  • It is a great source of other vitamins including Vitamins B-1, B-2, Vitamin C, D, A, and E and minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, and manganese.

How to eat it?

  • Make sure to choose an organic and quality brand of Spirulina, as others may be contaminated with additives and unhealthy substances depending on how it is produced.
  • Know where your Spirulina comes from, and make sure it’s a reputable source!
  • If you have any questions about how to give Spirulina to your child or if it is safe to take, talk to your health care provider.
  • Use 1/2 teaspoon for babies under 1 or 1/4 tsp twice per day.
  • Double the amounts over for children over 18 months.
spirulina smoothie

Tropical Spirulina Smoothie (for infants over 6 months and toddlers!):

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of chopped mango, (frozen works too!)
  • 1 banana chopped
  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • ½ avocado
  • ½ - 1 ¼ teaspoons of spirulina powder (depending on the age of the child)

Directions:

  1. Put banana into blender with 1 cup coconut milk and puree until fully blended.
  2. Add the mango and puree.
  3. Add the avocado and the spirulina powder* and once again puree until fully blended.
  4. Pour into cup and enjoy!
toddler drinking spirulina smoothie

Fun Fact:

The American National Aeronautical and Space Agency includes Spirulina in their astronaut diet because it is often described as one of the most complete food sources in the world!

Now go and enjoy the wonderful health benefits of this Superfood- Spirulina!

 

Written by: Dana Stretchberry

Sources:

http://wellnessmama.com/4738/spirulina-herb-profile/

http://www.australianspirulina.com.au/spirulina/spirulina.html

http://www.nutrex-hawaii.com/where-does-spirulina-come-from

 

Images:

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-FcOiHMseCmo/Ts3SMgS8ImI/AAAAAAAAAFc/nOm9CbWQK_s/s1600/spirulina+farm.jpg

http://www.seattlehealthcounselor.com/blog/2012/09/spirulina-for-kids-and-babies/

www.sarahlearns.com

www.veganspoonful.com

 

Recipe adapted from:

http://www.mamanatural.com/delicious-tropical-smoothie/