By Elke Probkevitz
It seems like every other day, you hear about a new study that comes out hyping the latest superfood that will change your life and give you maximum health benefits. From the chia seed to the aÃ§ai berry, these ingredients seem to appear out of nowhere and become all the rage for a healthy diet. Superfoods come from natural sources and are dense in nutrients and low in calories. We can all use a boost of energy and antioxidants, so here are some common superfoods you can incorporate into your diet.
AÃ§ai. Comes from the South American palm tree. AÃ§ai berries are rich in antioxidants, healthy fats, and dietary fiber. Good for battling free radicals and for cardiovascular and digestive health. Great in beauty products in the form of aÃ§ai oil for antioxidant benefits.
Cacao. Comes from a bean in South America. Cacao is rich in antioxidants, magnesium, and lipids. It is beneficial to help fight free radicals, aids in depression, and promotes cardiovascular health. Find it in the form of dark chocolate made with raw cacao for a delicious treat with maximum health benefit.
Coconut oil. Extracted from the meat of the coconut, coconut oil is rich in lauric acid and dietary fiber. It is good for digestive and cardiovascular health, weight loss, and immune function. Coconut oil can be used for cooking and baking, as well as topically in beauty products or to help treat infection.
Coconut water. The liquid found in a young coconut. A much better alternative to sports and energy drinks, coconut water is full of natural electrolytes that help give the body energy.
Chia seeds. These seeds come from a plant in Central America that is part of the mint family. The seeds are rich in fatty acids, calcium, and protein. They are great for increasing energy, aiding digestion, and improving cholesterol levels. Soaking seeds in water will cause them to become gelatinous and they can be a healthy replacement for eggs in some recipes.
Goji berries. Grown on vines in Mongolia and Tibet, they are rich in amino acids, antioxidants, and vitamins. They help with immune function, mental health, and cardiovascular health. They contain more vitamin C than any other food!
Maca root. Found in Peru, it is rich in amino acids, vitamins, and enzymes. It is beneficial for hormonal and mental function and to increase energy. It is sold in the form of a powder that can be added to your morning smoothie or cereal for a natural energy boost.
Manuka honey. Comes from a bush in New Zealand pollinated by bees. The manuka honey is especially rich in enzymes, proteins, and hydrogen peroxide. It helps to relieve stomach ulcers, soothes heartburn, and helps heal wounds. Take a spoonful to relieve a sore throat. v
Toasted Oatmeal With Strawberry Chia Jam
12-oz. bag frozen organic strawberries
2—3 Tbsp. honey or agave
1 Tbsp. chia seeds
1—2 Tbsp. coconut oil
2 cups rolled oats
1Â½ cups + 2 Tbsp. water
Â½ cup coconut milk
pinch of kosher salt or sea salt
pinch of ground cinnamon
For the jam: Combine berries and honey or agave in a medium saucepan. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently. After about 5 minutes, lightly mash berries with a fork. Reduce heat to medium low, add in chia seeds, and cook, stirring frequently until reduced to jam consistency, 15—20 minutes. Add more sweetener if needed.
For the oatmeal: Melt coconut oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add oats. Toast, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and toasted, 6—8 minutes. In large pot, combine milk, water, salt, and cinnamon. Bring to slow boil over medium heat. Add toasted oats and stir gently to incorporate. Cover pot and turn off heat. Let sit on burner for 7 minutes. Uncover and make sure liquid is absorbed enough. (If too wet, re-cover and let sit a little longer.) Serve oatmeal with strawberry chia jam.
Want to learn how to cook delicious gourmet meals right in your own kitchen? Take one-on-one cooking lessons or give a gift to an aspiring cook you know. For more information, contact Take Home Chef personal chef services by calling 516-508-3663, writing to elke@TakeHomeChef.net, or visiting www.TakeHomeChef.net.