If you’re like us, you’ve probably exhausted the customary kale and goji berries in your morning smoothie, not to mention the chia seeds and bee pollen that have long outstayed their welcome in your pantry. Like you, we’re in the market for something new. We spoke to personal trainer and raw food enthusiast Ricardo Riskalla, and Karen Ward founder of organic food company Honest To Goodness to get a handle on the latest underground superfood secrets.
There are some superfoods we’ll never get over. Spirulina, the superfood of the sea has been loved since the seventies - and for good reason (it’s a rich source of chlorophyll, micro and macro nutrients along with protein and antioxidants). Also make sure to keep the quiet achieving blueberries and lemons on hand for added immunity and detoxifying purposes. As a substitute for sugar Ricardo suggests opting for raw cacao, and raw honey - “it’s anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and has anti-fungal properties, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals”. For everything else, there are some game changers on the horizon.
Native to South Africa, this exotic fruit powder is bursting with fibre, antioxidants and a rich source of Vitamin C. Not only is it a natural energiser, it encourages a healthy nervous system and aids the growth of collagen and elastin for the skin. Karen Ward suggests incorporating one heaped tablespoon of their Baobab to smoothies, sprinkled over muesli and porridge or blended with yoghurt. Added to water, Baobab can encourage optimum hydration and has been proven to detoxify the liver after high exposure to toxins like alcohol. If you are feeling creative, try adding this versatile ingredient into baking and desserts, even ice cream or sorbets make for a healthy snack.
We know it doesn’t sound luxurious but Ricardo swears by these strong plants. Being an often unwelcome guest in your garden makes them hardy, meaning they have developed coping mechanisms for survival which means they are often richer in nutrients than pampered nursery plants. "They are rich in calcium, chlorophyll, antioxidants and minerals - best of all, they are free” says Ricardo. The most commonly grown garden weed is Dandelion, it’s bitter taste aids digestive juices and helps to detoxify the liver. Ricardo recommends using the app Wild Edibles to make sure your garden weeds are edible and also make sure you know that they're free from pesticides and other environmental contaminants.
This Low GI natural sweetener (only 20 calories per tablespoon) is perfect as a sweet additive for the healthy inclined, along with those suffering from diabetes and other renal disorders. Beauticate loves the Honest to Goodness Yacon Syrup for its gratifying flavour of molasses meets caramel. Karen recommends “eating it off a spoon or putting a splash on your cereal or yoghurt”. It’s also a great additive to smoothies, drizzled over pancakes or oatmeal for added nutritional value. Studies also show that this superfood is a natural weight loss aid as it’s naturally high in a compound called FOS which feeds healthy gut bacteria and makes you feel fuller for longer.
Originating from the trees of the Northern Hemisphere, Eastern cultures have used this bark-like mushroom for centuries due to it’s immune-boosting properties. Although ugly in appearance, this highly concentrated black mass (usually consumed in the form of tea - available at most health stores) is suggested to ease stomach ulcers and promote gastrointestinal health. Not only does it have antioxidant properties, studies have also shown that it normalises blood pressure and cholesterol levels while providing relief to those suffering from pain, neuropathy and diabetes.
A delicacy of the mediterranean diet, the artichoke has been adored for it’s phenomenal nutritional properties since the beginning of The Roman Empire. Artichoke extract is one of the very few herbal remedies that have been embraced by biomedical research. The extract derived from the basal leaves of the artichoke plant has been proven to improve the gastrointestinal system by improving bile secretion in the liver. Better yet, it’s been found to improve everything from high cholesterol, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), kidney problems, anaemia, arthritis, heartburn, nausea and the all-too-dreadful hangover. Need we say more?
An oldie but a goodie, there’s a reason why the fermentation process has been used across various cultures for thousands of centuries. Ricardo is a firm believer in incorporating sauerkraut, kombucha, rejuvelac and nut cheeses into your everyday diet. “They are great to help digestion, enhance the immune system, detoxification and to create great skin,” says Ricardo. Make your own with Sigourney’s step-by-step video tutorial for fermenting Sauerkraut and Kombucha. Try to avoid store bought as they can be laden with salt.
Story by Claudia De Berardinis