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Super heroes

Super foods are the heroes of the healthy eating world. Here’s the inside track on the best available and how to cook and eat them

What are super foods?

Super foods are foods that do not just nourish the body but provide additional nutritional and medicinal benefits because they have very high concentrations of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Chia seeds, seaweed, bee pollen, coconut oil, cacao and goji berries are just a few as well as some less exotic-sounding ingredients such as oats, nuts and seeds.

Super choice

“We stock spirulina, wheatgrass and barleygrass powders,” says Oliver McCabe of Select Stores, Dalkey, Co Dublin and author of The Fuel Food Cookbook (Mercier). “Also chia seeds for brain function and turmeric as a powerful anti-inflammatory for circulation.”

“Our super foods include quinoa, goji berries, green tea, oatmeal, almonds and wheatgrass,” says Angela Mc Glanaghey of Simple Simon’s in Donegal town.

Super popular

“The most popular super foods with our customers would be wheatgrass, chia seeds, green tea and goji berries,” says Angela McGlanaghey. “People mostly incorporate them into their breakfast for a healthy boost first thing in the morning.”

“Customers love using all the green superfood powders for making smoothies, juices and even with baking breads and scones,” says Oliver McCabe. “Chia seeds are lovely with granola, mueslis and porridge. And turmeric is gorgeous in mashed sweet potato, squash or carrot – it really intensifies the colour and flavour; it’s also fab in soups, stews and smoothies.”

Super cooking

“Many ‘superfoods’ don’t taste so great on their own so I grate, bake, blend and cook with them as an ingredient,” says Oliver McCabe.

“I love using spirulina when making flapjacks, it works and tastes really well with oatflakes. I also love making chia seed mousse, blending the seeds with almond butter, cacao, banana and oat milk. And I like to add turmeric to all my veggie bakes, spicy sauces and smoothies. It’s one spice I really trust as I do believe it can really benefit circulation, heart and brain function.”

“I often make a superfood porridge in the morning,” says Angela McGlanaghey, “with organic oats topped with goji berries, greek yoghurt and our own local honey.”

Super seaweed

There are over 500 different types of seaweed growing around the shores of Ireland. The most common are dillisk/dulse, kelp, sea spaghetti, alaria, carraigin and bladder wrack. Seaweeds are a rich source of iodine which is essential for a healthy metabolism and thyroid function. Seaweeds are also high in iron, protein, calcium, magnesium, zinc, folic acid and vitamin B12. They are full of antioxidants as well as having anti-inflamatory and anti-bacterial properties.

Most Irish seaweed is sold in dried form. It can be soaked in water and added to pies, soups, salads and stir fries, or baked in breads and muffins. Seaweed is great added to soups, stews and casseroles, in a smoothie or juice or on salads. Certain seaweeds such as kelp are great in breads and cakes.

When you need a little something to keep you going your local health store is a great source of dried fruit, superfoods like goji berries, nuts such as almonds as well as oat cakes, raw bars containing only nuts and fruit and cartons of milk alternatives such as coconut milk. Of course we should all increase our intake of fruit and vegetables too.

Rude Health's Top 10 Super Foods

1. Bee pollen – a super and most nourishing food with 40% protein and everything the human body needs. Sprinkle over cereal.

2. Camu camu – a bush with green or purple berries and white pulp that grows in rainforest in Peru and Brazil. Camu camu powder is good on porridge or in juice. Packed with vitamin C.

3. Chia seeds – a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. Chia seeds soak up liquid to make a delicious jelly-like dessert, or sprinkle over cereal.

4. Chlorella – a green algae sold in powder form, ideal for adding to smoothies. Good for immunity and detoxing. Make sure to buy an organically-certified chlorella, because it is known to draw in compounds from its environment.

5. Coconut oil – good for brain function and has antiviral properties. You can fry food with it, just eat it with a spoon or add to numerous recipes.

6. Goji berries – resembling dried red raisins, goji berries grow in the Himalayas, China and Mongolia. Eat as a snack or add to salads and smoothies. Good for eye health in the over 55s because they contain beta-carotene and zeaxanthin. Thought to boost immune function.

7. Maca – from a root grown in the high Andes of Peru. Add powder to smoothies, or take in capsule form. Good for fertility and menopause support. A powerful rejuvenating tonic for a stressed system.

8. Medicinal mushrooms – include chaga, reishi, cordyceps, shiitake and maitake. Take as a liquid or powdered supplement or drink mushroom tea. Have antibacterial and antiviral properties, are good for hormone balancing, increasing immunity and can help with lowering blood sugar. High in vitamin D and antioxidants.

9. Seaweed – add to various recipes. Good for detoxing plus full of vitamin B12, iron, magnesium and calcium, (see Super Seaweed).

10. Spirulina – a blue-green algae that grows in lakes in subtropical climates. Sprinkle over cereal and into smoothies. Packed with protein and amino acids.
Anti-inflammatory.


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