While the term superfood is bandied about pretty liberally these days, we remain devoted adherents to the David Wolfe definition of a superfood, from his bestselling 2009 book Superfoods, which is: “foods that have a dozen or more unique properties, not just one or two. For example, the goji berry is a source of complete protein, immune-stimulating polysaccharides, liver-cleansing betaine, anti-ageing sesquiterpenes, antioxidants, over twenty trace minerals, and much, much more.”
Since it’s hard enough getting our little munchkins to eat nutritious foods, superfoods are a great way to pack the good stuff in- especially when the kidlings are being stubborn on the variety front. Below is a mini guide to the three superfoods we can’t live without- and neither should you or your bubbas!
Why They Are Good For You: Some people would call this wrinkled red fruit the most nutritious berry in the world and there are literally dozens of reasons it’s good for you but here are some of the most key characteristics: it boosts the body’s immune system (great for our little super travelers), it keeps the body hydrated as it contains high levels of hydrogen and it contains two important antioxidants that are essential for good vision: lutein and zeaxanthin.
How To Buy Them: Most of the world’s goji berries originate from either China/Tibet or from the Southwestern United States. They are now widely available from supermarkets and all health food stores stock them. We Hong Kongers are also extremely lucky as we can find goji berries in most local wet markets at the dried goods stalls for a very reasonable price. You want to make sure to get the dried variety. Fresh goji berries are extremely sour and much more difficult to source.
What To Do With Them: This is an easy one: use dried goji berries wherever you would use raisins/dried cranberries such as in a homemade granola or just on their own as a snack. Also great as a topping for cereal or oatmeal. If you make your own chocolate (raw vegan or othewise), add some goji berries before cooling for a great pop of color and some added sweetness and texture.
Why It’s Good For You: This dark green, extremely ancient microscopic spiral algae is packed with protein and gets its color thanks to its high levels of chlorophyll, it is packed with free-radical fighting antioxidants (great for Hong Kong’s pollution levels) and promotes healthy iron levels by providing the body with bioavailable (=no extra work to absorb) iron.
How To Buy It: There are dozens of spirulina varieties across the world’s lakes and fresh waterways. That being said, the spirulina you are seeing at your local health food store is mostly of the farmed variety and comes in three sun-dried forms: supplements, powder and in little pieces known as spirulina crunch.
What To Do With It: Spirulina is not the easiest food to introduce to the little ones. Throw a half tablespoon of the powder (if you can’t find the powder just break open the supplement pills) into any vegetable soup or pasta sauce. It also is an easy add to a kale chip recipe (mix a teaspoon with olive oil and a little lemon juice). Spirulina is potent and very salty so go easy and taste as you go when cooking with it. If your kiddies love smoothies, then throw some in the blender along with bananas and coconut milk- an easy and nutritious breakfast. If you have an adventurous eater on your hands, add spirulina crunch into a homemade granola (try adding some to this delicious recipe).
Why It’s Good For You: Coconut oil consuming peoples are amongst some of the healthiest on earth with shiny hair, clear skin, long, dementia-free lives and very low levels of heart disease. Coconut oil contains the highest amount of lauric acid of any food known to humans, save for mother’s breast milk. Why is lauric acid important? Easy- it’s packed with anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-microbial fatty acids which keeps your immune system strong and helps you stave off disease. Coconut oil helps your body absorb magnesium, it aids in blood sugar usage (counteracting any kind of insulin resistance and good for little ones who consume lots of sweets) and it provides support to a variety of liver functions. There are innumerable more benefits to consuming this wonder oil but you get the picture: the stuff is good for you!
How To Buy It: Coconut oil is made by grinding and extracting the oil of the mature flesh of the coconut, fruit of the coconut palm tree. Most of the world’s coconuts grown in tropical countries in Asia (especially Thailand, Indonesia, India and the Philippines), the Middle East and tropical islands like Bermuda, Hawaii, Fiji and the Maldives (it is their national tree). It is absolutely vital to buy non processed, raw virgin coconut oil (known amongst health nuts as VCO). Processed coconut oil is a different beast altogether and the bad rep that coconut oil has garnered is due to a misunderstanding between the raw, nourishing variety and the processed hydrogenated kind.
What To Do With It: Another easy one- stop using toxic-at-high-temperature vegetable oils and replace all your cooking with extra virgin coconut oil. Just that alone will make a huge difference in your little ones’ health. Did you know most oils that you buy in the supermarket are rancid? A topic for another day but worth knowing that most vegetable oils become toxic when heated at mid to high temperatures PLUS they go bad the moment they are exposed to heat or light. So those light yellow oils in clear glass containers? No good! Coconut oil is also a yummy base for homemade raw chocolate. Mix with raw cacao powder (1 to 1 ratio) and your favorite healthy sweetener and voila! Scrumptious, uber nutritious raw chocolate!