April 6, 2013

The 11 superfoods -- how do you stack up?

Did you read Real Simple's list of 11 superfoods? Not 10, because that would be too even. Basically superfoods punch you in the face (but not in a bruise-producing, painful way) with vitamins and minerals so that you feel like a rock star every day. In summary, superfoods are the opposite of the M&Ms I just accidentally stole from my kid's Easter basket. I can't wait for all of this Easter candy to vanish so it will stop working its sugar voodoo on me.

When I read the superfoods list, I was pretty surprised that a) I've heard of most of these foods and b) some of them are in our cabinet right this minute, potentially superfood punching me in the face later. I should probably rethink that analogy, but two minutes (for me the writer -- two seconds for you the reader) into this, it's way too late to reverse it.

So, let's play the How Many of These Superfoods Are Punching Me in the Face Right Now game. The rules are 1) count how many of these are at your house (bonus points if you actually consume them) and 2) the higher your total is the more food snobby you can act on your next trip to Whole Foods. Simple, right?!

1. Acai, which is pronounced ah-SIGH-ee. Well, that I did not know. This one is no-go for us. Maybe because it's expensive, and I really have never seen it in the berry form. It's touted as an anti-aging and weight loss aid. To be honest, I thought this was mostly a multi-level marketing thing, so hopefully they didn't just list this as a trick so that later I would join the bottom of their pyramid.


2. Goji berries. Not currently at our house, but they have been within the last year (counting that). They're supposed to improve circulation and boost the immune system.


3. Cacao/cocoa powder. Done. I've used lots and lots of this trying to overcome my addiction to Kit-Kats, and it is supposed to lower blood pressure and increase blood flow to your brain and heart. I can't remember a time when I didn't keep cocoa powder in my cabinet, so two bonus points for that. If you're shopping for it, and the container says Dutch or alkalized, that means it's processed and has fewer antioxidants.

Something I want to make with cocoa powder.

4. Seaweed. We have this for making sushi, and I've tried to eat it plain before with little taste-bud success. Until last week when I tried it plain again and liked it. Now I can convert to being a mermaid and survive. So stoked. Oh, and it has omega-3s, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, iodine, and zinc.


5. Chia seeds. What self-respecting Born to Run reader doesn't have a healthy chia seed stash? They're full of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and calcium, and I feel like they give me some staying power for long runs -- although I still haven't figured out how to carry them when I run. Last Saturday, I tried to choke some down a handful sans water before my long run. Not my smartest move ever, but don't worry because something genius-y came out of it. I realized that if I stash a big wad of chia seeds in my lip (yes, exactly like tobacco dip), I can slowly chew and swallow the chias for the first 20 minutes of a run. Side note: if you ever want to freak yourself out do an image search for dipping tobacco. Does anyone still dip? So google that right now, and you'll stop.

If you don't like chia seeds, try chia Ts.

6. Mangosteens. A cancer and inflammation fighter. I've never heard of this one, so we definitely don't have it at our house.


7. Maca powder. Giving myself more bonus points because I just purchased some this week before reading the list. I bought it because it's supposed to give you energy, and I really like how it tastes in oatmeal and smoothies. Real Simple says it will also increase endurance and libido, and if you combine those two ... ahem. My sister warned me to not take it too late in the day because it might keep me up at night. As a lifetime night owl, I don't need any extra help there. 

8. Kefir. We make kefir at our house, like a boss. A few months ago we started with water kefir to try and replace any soda usage, and recently we moved to making milk kefir. To make the milk kefir, you start with kefir grains and add milk. Then you let it ferment on the counter for 24 hours. Rotten milk -- sounds delish, right? When I first tried it in Russia, where it originated, just the idea of it made me gag, but I ate it anyway to be polite and culturally more cool. From what I understand, kefir is low in lactose and easily tolerated (even by the intolerant) because of the probiotic bacteria it contains. 

Bella making some homemade kefir beverages.

9. Hemp seeds. Never tried them, but they are supposed to contain the amino acids required for repair and growth. That seems like something all runners could use, as their bodies take a regular beating. 


10. Nutritional yeast is the vegan-friendly source of B-12, which is essential for brain function and nervous-system function. We mostly sprinkle it on top of our popcorn, but my sister eats it by the spoonful and calls it nootch for short, like it's her BFF she can give a nickname too.

Source and recipe for nutritional yeast popcorn.

11. Black garlic. This is another one that I didn't know existed. Apparently you ferment (again with the rotten stuff) regular garlic to create this black powerhouse garlic, a heart-healthy cancer fighter that's full of probiotics. According to Real Simple, Asia has been all over this for ages, but we're just now catching on in Western world. 

So how many of these have you heard of? 

Which ones do you have in your house? 

Have you tried any home-fermenting? Accidentally leaving your milk on the counter overnight does not count. I only know because I tried (kidding, maybe). 

Do you feel like a food snob the instant you cross the Whole Foods threshold? 

Note: I'll be back soon with the Injinji giveaway winner. Still need to populate the spreadsheet to pick the winner, and I'm being slow.