Chew on This
In the 1950s, praying to Jesus for a trimmer waistline rose as the hot “health” trend. The following decades focused on deprivation fads—be it restricted calories (Weight Watchers), low fat (Scarsdale), or no carbohydrates (Atkins)—as the promise to a fit physique and optimal health. Recently, we’ve seen a turn back to nature when it comes to nutrition. From juicing vegetables to eating Paleo, most plans center on healthy whole foods (farm-fresh and grass-fed!) that nourish the body, prevent disease, and potentially cure such ailments as high blood pressure and autoimmune disorders. Here, we dish on the superfoods of Newport Beach’s top athletes, nutrition experts and fitness gurus.
April Murray | Owner/Registered Dietitian, Orange County Nutrition Coaching
April, a registered dietitian and health blogger (thethinkitchen.com), works these five “trending” superfoods into her own diet as well as those of her clients. See her blog for recipes.
Chia seeds are packed full of important nutrients. They are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help raise HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol that helps protect against heart attack and stroke). They are also high in protein, fiber and contain antioxidants (a great advantage over flax seeds). I add chia seeds to oatmeal, water or make a chia seed pudding.
Fermented foods are full of healthy enzymes, minerals and live cultures (probiotics) that help balance gut microflora, which aids digestion, protects from toxic pollutants, and builds a strong immune system. Find these superfoods in kombucha (fermented tea), miso, kefir, yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, cultured vegetables, and pickled vegetables and relishes. I work these into my diet by adding kefir or yogurt to a smoothie; mixing fermented vegetables (pickled cucumbers, beets, onions and sauerkraut are my favorite) to salads; and using miso to marinate fish.
Matcha is made from all natural green tea leaves that are stone-ground into a fine powder. It contains more powerful antioxidants than regular green tea. Studies suggest green tea intake may protect your heart, skin and bones, and boost your metabolism.
You can find matcha lattes at coffee shops. I like to make my own by adding a small scoop of matcha powder to hot (but not boiling) water; I whisk until it’s frothy and has a creamy taste. I also add matcha powder directly to vegetable and fruit smoothies.
Spirulina is a blue-green algae that’s high in protein, iron and other important minerals.
Many studies suggest that the powder increases production of antibodies, infection-fighting proteins, and other cells that improve immunity and help ward off infection and such chronic illnesses as cancer. I add to juice or water, or sprinkle some onto food.
Turmeric is the rootstalk of a tropical plant that’s part of the ginger family. One of the main components of the spice is a substance called curcumin, which is said to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and even anticancer properties. I add the spice to eggs or frittatas, toss it with roasted vegetables, rice or other grains, or even blend it into a smoothie or juice.
Ambia Phelan | Personal trainer and owner of Fitspired
“I consume a lot of super foods daily—at least one per meal,” Phelan says.
Blueberries are high in antioxidants. For my first meal of the day, I make 1/2 cup of rolled oats cooked with cinnamon, honey and milk, and then top with 1/2 cup of blueberries. Sometimes I’ll use cranberries or strawberries instead, which also have health benefits.
I always have at least one meal with egg whites, a great source of protein, vitamins and minerals (occasionally, I’ll add the yolk). I like to cook them up with bell peppers, onion and spinach.
Broccoli is one of my main vegetables. It’s high in vitamins K and C, and is full of fiber and other allergy-fighting substances. I consume with eggs, chicken or fish (usually white fish, but sometimes salmon for its omega 3s).
If I am on the go and don’t have time to make something, I’ll grab a probiotic-rich Greek yogurt (look for those with no added sugar).
Green tea is my staple drink. It’s loaded with antioxidants and is thought to maintain weight and boost brain function. Yogi tea’s Blueberry Slim Green Tea is my go-to, which a very little bit of honey.
Kale has long been the king of the superfoods list. It’s one of the most nutrient dense foods you can eat. I like to make kale chips:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Break kale leaves from stem and put into bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of (liquefied) coconut oil and mix until it covers the leaves. Lay the leaves out onto a cookie sheet and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Place in the over for about 10–15 minutes, depending on how crispy you want them.
Brita Corradini | Yogi, writer, wellness mama, breast cancer survivor
Brita, a former pastry chef, was diagnosed with stage-2 breast cancer when she was six months pregnant with her second daughter. The physical and emotional side effects of chemotherapy, she says, compelled her to research other options, which led to an even healthier diet than she had before. “My body just wasn’t feeling right—and I was depressed, I couldn’t sleep—so I researched and researched and opted for alternative therapy. I do believe that food is medicine and that we can make our bodies inhospitable to disease.” Now cancer-free for over three years, Brita advocates a diet rich in plant-based foods and absent of refined sugars. Having two young children who crave all things sweet, however, requires some creativity in the kitchen. Here, Brita shares two recipes for treats that are a hit with the kids—big and small—and that pack a healthy punch.
Chocolate Coconut Truffles
1 generous cup of finely shredded unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup of coconut oil
5 tablespoons of raw cacao
3-4 tablespoons of raw honey
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
Pulse the coconut in a food processor or blender a few times to break it up. Add the rest of the ingredients, scraping often to mix it evenly. Working quickly because of the coconut oil, roll balls of the dough in your hands and place them on a tray lined with parchment paper. Allow to set in the fridge until ready. Prepare your taste buds for heavenly health!
“Every ingredient in here is good for you. Coconut is a superfood with a unique combination of fatty acids that can have incredibly beneficial effects on your health. Raw cacao is another superfood with tons of antioxidants, which clean up all the free radicals in your body. Raw honey is an alkaline-forming food that boasts many natural vitamins, enzymes and antioxidants. And vanilla is just a yummy side note, which makes everyone happy!”
Energizing Cookie Dough
1 cup of tahini
1 cup of raw honey
1/4 cup of raw cacao
1/4 cup of hemp seeds
1/4 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. You can roll them into balls, spread it out on a parchment-lined cookie sheet as fudge, or eat it straight out of the jar!
“Tahini is one of the best sources of calcium out there, as well as being rich in high alkaline minerals. Hemp seeds are an excellent source of balanced omega fatty acids, which helps your heart and hormones. Be mindful of when you’re eating this treat — it will give you quite an energy boost! I wouldn’t recommend them right before bed.”
Richie Schley | Professional mountain biker
“I drink a vegetable juice or smoothie every day,” says Richie, who relies on his diet to fuel intense mountain bike rides five or six days a week. He buys or blends a cleansing mix with beets—high in immune-boosting vitamins C and B, as well as essential minerals that aid healthy bones, kidneys and liver.
I also add mineral drops to a glass of water every morning.
On the Go
No time to prep something at home? These superfoods are offered at local restaurants, cafes and markets.