By Nutritionist Melissa Fine.
Are there near-full bags of chia seeds and cacao collecting dust in your pantry? If you don’t know what to do with superfoods or how to enjoy them, here are some simple ways to incorporate them into your daily diet, making an everyday meal a little more special.
1. Dulse Flakes
Salty, smoky and nutty in flavour, this sea superfood is so versatile. If you’re new to dulse, you can try the leaf version straight up as a snack – it’s surprisingly moreish, extremely low in kilojoules and packed with minerals like iodine (essential for thyroid health), calcium and magnesium. And thanks to its satisfying umami taste, dulse really adds depth to a variety of dishes, from soups and stocks to stews, stir fries and steamed rice; I love it stirred into a steaming mug of high quality instant miso soup. Or, mix things up by using dulse to ‘salt’ a pot of pasta, potatoes or quinoa.
If you want to give dulse a go, look for an ethical brand like the carbon-offsetting company, Power Super Foods®; Their dulse is hand harvested from the nutritious waters of Dark Harbour in the under-populated Canadian Maritimes, and is then sun or shed-dried for maximum sustainability.
Pure, antioxidant-rich cacao doesn’t exactly taste like milk chocolate, but if you know what to do with it, you can make something magical ;) If you’re new to cacao and aren’t used to its bitterness, give the Power Super Foods range of cacao products a try;Their Cacao Crunch cacao nibs have a mildly nutty, smoky, coffee-like flavour, with the perfect balance of bitter/sweet thanks to the addition of South American panela, an unrefined evaporated sugarcane juice.
Alongside being organic, sustainable and Fair Trade certified, Power Super Foods cacao has 21 times more antioxidant flavonoids than green tea, 14 times more than red wine and 7 times more than antioxidant flavonoids than green tea, 14 times more than red wine and 7 times more than your average dark chocolate…That’s more than enough reason to make these Cacao Vegan Brownies with Almond Cacao Icing ;). For the recipe click here.
Or, try 100% unsweetened cacao nibs in a homemade trail mix with some raw almonds and your favourite dried fruit to balance out the cacao’s bitterness. After snacking on this for a few weeks, you may start to find highly processed, sugar-laden milk chocolate to be sickly sweet.
3. Chia seeds
Neutral in flavour, crunchy when dry and jelly-like when soaked, there’s so much you can do with these tiny, fibre-rich super seeds. Chia seeds are great in vegan baking because they work as a binding agent, so are an easy option for an egg-replacement; To make a chia ‘egg’, simply combine 1 TBS of chia seeds with 3 TBS water. I also love adding a teaspoon or two of chia to my smoothie to make it nice and thick; or it’s so easy to sprinkle these superseeds over everything you eat – muesli, yoghurt, porridge, stirfries, salads, etc
4. Canned Sardines
You either love them, hate them or perhaps are hesitant to try them…I’m a big fan of the humble sardine. This sustainable fish is packed with anti-inflammatory, essential omega-3 fats and unlike canned tuna, is low in mercury. Plus, if you eat the barely noticeable bones you’ll also be getting a good dose of calcium.
My favourite ways to eat canned sardines? Drained and smashed on top of avocado on toast, or mashed up with a squirt of Dijon mustard and tossed through a salad dressed with lemon juice and red wine vinegar; Because sardines are naturally salty and full of oily goodness, there’s no need to add anything else.
5. Green tea
If you’ve tried to like green tea because you know it’s good for you but can’t handle its astringency, there’s now a wide range of delicious green tea blends on the market. Check out your local health food store and you’ll find flavours like green chai and green and white tea blends for a smoother mouth feel. Or, enjoy green tea iced with some chopped fresh ginger for a kick and a teaspoon of honey if you’d like.
Not only is it rich in antioxidants, green tea also contains caffeine, so is a good afternoon pick-me-up alternative to that coffee you’re craving. I also find green tea the perfect beverage when I’m craving something sweet, perhaps because it cleanses the palate.
Cacao Crunch is a super delicious all-organic fairly traded blend of highly antioxidant, high-magnesium crushed chocolate beans, coated in a paste of roasted chocolate liquefied nibs, then rolled in 'panela'. Often described as a chocolate explosion with a lightly smoky, nutty, coffee-like flavour ....enjoy as is straight from the bag, or sprinkle over ice cream, yoghurt, or cappuccino, or substitute for chocolate chips, or add to cheesecakes, bliss balls, pressed nut or crumb bases for endlessly delicious culinary possibilities - you’ll LOVE it!
This velvety textured seaweed (Palmaria palmata) is also called the Sea Superfood for its amazing abundance of antioxidant vitamins (A, B’s, C, E) and important minerals including magnesium, calcium, chromium, zinc and potassium. Enjoy Dulse Leaf straight out of the bag to give foods ‘umami’ (the 5th taste element) with its salty/nutty/smoky taste, or sprinkle in soups, stocks, stews, miso, stirfries or savoury dishes.