Shorter days and colder nights and our bodies seem to instinctively crave the foods that bring warmth to the soul. Our bodies, designed with an internal compass, will desire warm, hearty, and grounding foods in the fall and winter and cooler, lighter, cleansing foods in the spring and summer. One of the benefits of eating locally is that you are always eating what is in season. Eating strictly local can have SO many benefits, but it also prevents us from experiencing some of the world’s most amazing superfoods that we can enjoy while also stocking up on all the squashes, potatoes, soups, stews, and delicious spices of the cooler months. These warming superfoods boast tons of flavor, provide a boost to the immune system and kick your routine up a notch. Which one will you try?!
Superfood #1: Maca Powder
This superfood has been at the height of its game for thousands of years from deep in the Andes Mountains and is taking the natural health world by storm. Maca has a rich caramel-like flavor and has shown to help the body adapt to stress (great for adrenal health and dealing with day to day bustle). It helps to increase energy levels, is a good source of protein and has shown to reduce anxiety and depression levels in post menopausal women.
How I use it: In smoothies!
Chocolate Cauliflower Shake
1 cup frozen cauliflower
1 tbsp almond butter
2 tbsps cacao powder
¼ cup chocolate protein powder
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp maca powder
Superfood #2: Medicinal Mushrooms
(Chaga, Cordyceps, Lion’s Mane, Reishi)
All mushrooms have a high nutritional value and should be eaten regularly. I use cooking mushrooms regularly in meals (my favorites are portobello, oyster, shiitake, white button, porcini, etc.) and I make sure to cook them thoroughly to help break down the cellular walls and to help remove naturally occurring toxins.
Medicinal mushrooms, much like the maca, have been used in medicine for thousands of years and they are finally gaining mass popularity – and for good reason. Eaten regularly, these mushrooms provide immune health, antioxidants, brain health support and help the body fight free-radicals and inflammation. Each specific mushroom has its own superpowers so I encourage you to dig a bit deeper if you’re looking for something personal to you.
How I use them: Cooked thoroughly in food, in coffee and by supplement
Mushroom Garlic Quinoa
1 cup quinoa (uncooked)
1 3/4 cups water
1 1/2 tsps extra virgin olive oil
2 cups mushrooms (thinly sliced)
3 garlic (cloves, minced)
Sea salt & black pepper (to taste)
Combine the quinoa and water together in a pot. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cover. Let simmer for 12 to 15 minutes, or until all water is absorbed. Remove lid, fluff with a fork and set aside.
While the quinoa cooks, heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Saute sliced mushrooms until soft. Add garlic and saute for another 1 to 2 more minutes.
In a bowl, combine mushrooms with quinoa and season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!
Superfood #3: Cacao
We aren’t talking about your refined hot cocoa mix here, but the real, raw, organic cacao (notice the spelling difference) that has yet to be stripped of its nutritional value and added to sugar. To be honest, if you’re like me, you’ll love this superfood year-round, but there’s something a bit more comforting and enjoyable eating cacao during the cooler months. The biggest benefit to eating raw cacao is the high antioxidant content, which helps to fight free-radicals and ultimately reduce inflammation in the body. It’s the number one source of manganese on the planet and helps to boost brain health and balance mood.
How I use it: homemade hot chocolate, energy bites, brownies, smoothies
Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Bites
1 cup quick oats
1/2 cup ground flax seed
3 tbsps cacao powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup all natural peanut butter
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp unsweetened almond milk (optional)
In a large mixing bowl combine oats, flax, cacao powder, sea salt, peanut butter and maple syrup. Add almond milk if the dough is too thick and sticky.
Roll the dough into balls about 1-inch in diameter. Chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes before serving. Enjoy!