What are Super Foods and do they Taste Good?

By: Roseanne McKee

Recently, two specialists at Navitas Naturals held a webinar to provide information about what super foods are with suggestions about how to add them to our diets.

According to the Navitas Naturals website, a super food is “a nutrient-dense fruit or vegetable that contains a high content of anti-oxidents, protein, omega-3, minerals, fiber or other essential nutrients.”

Mullin emphasized that super foods are those which are: not genetically modified (non-GMO), native sourced and minimally processed.

Describing the super foods they sell, Navitas product specialist Arthur Mullin said, “these foods have been honored in cultures around the world for centuries.”

The first super food that Julie Morris, who creates recipes for Navitas Naturals, introduced was cacao nibs, which she said were similar in flavor to a chocolate-covered espresso bean. Although not sweet themselves, Morris said cacao nibs can easily be incorporated into sweet baked goods.

“They have a crunch which adds a textural element,” she said. “They also add a spark or zest as a topping to cakes or ice cream.”

Cacao in powder form is also a great substitute for cocoa, said Mullin. Cacao powder is made by cold-pressing cacao nibs and then processing them at a low temperature. This low temperature processing, preserves the nutrients, Mullin said.

“You can switch out cacao powder on a one-to-one ratio replacement for cocoa in recipes,” Morris said. “Anywhere you use cocoa powder, you can use cacao powder.”

Morris also recommends cacao in savory recipes such as chili or molé sauce.

Her favorite super food is chia, which is sold in seed form and as a powder. High in fiber, chia is rich in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. Chia’s ratio of these fatty acids is a three to one ratio, which promotes certain kinds of health, she explained.
Mullin said: “Chia attracts and absorbs moisture, ten times its weight in water, so it’s a good source of gentle fiber.”

Chia in water produces a gel that has culinary applications.

“Because of the jelling properties, the chia seeds, by adding water for 15 minutes, become a textural treat,” Morris said. They act as a flavor carrier, adding texture to guacamole, pudding, sauces, jelly and classic chia fresca – a Mexican drink.

Among chia’s benefits are that chia seed are low in calories, have virtually no flavor, and just a handful give you the nutritional benefits, Morris explained.

“They’re also good in cereal, soups and yogurt,” Mullin said.

Another super food is goji berries, sundried and ready to eat or available as a freeze-dried powder. Rich in iron and calcium, these mildly sweet berries from China are the subject of folklore and mythology, Mullin said.

“They look like little red raisins with a tart, sweet taste,” Morris said. They are good in muffins, oatmeal, smoothies and as a hot tea. “Goji berries are a natural companion to cacao,” Mullin said.

Morris: “In savory recipes, after hydrated in water, they are somewhat like tomatoes, so they are good in salsa and add color to recipes.”

At his company, the goji berries sold have no additives, pollutants, are non-GMO and are third party tested to ensure they are organic,” Morris added.

Another super food, Maca, is Mullin’s favorite super food. “It was our first product and is still a cornerstone product, offered in a gelatinous form and dry.”

At Navita Naturals, maca is processed using low temperatures to preserve its nutrients, Mullins said.

Mullin: “It is native to Peru and Bolivia and grows there exclusively in conditions of high temperatures to 135 degrees and below zero in nutrient scarce soil. It contains amino acids that support our endocrine system and balance or hormone system – stress and sex hormones.”

Morris: “Raw maca powder has a stronger flavor. As a chef, I absolutely adore it … it has a flavor you can’t hide, so you have to either celebrate it or not use it.”
Describing maca’s flavor Morris said, “imagine something earthy with notes of carrot, radish and butterscotch.”

As such maca has flavor friends and flavor enemies. According to Morris, maca’s flavor enemies are: fresh fruit, peaches, apples and leafy greens.

Morris: “Maca’s flavor friends are other types of roots: carrots, tubers, yams and sweet potatoes, which bring out the butterscotch flavor we love. I love using maca in baked recipes. It goes well with grains, carmel flavors and chocolate. One fruit maca goes with is banana, so it’s good in smoothies with banana and cacao. It’s really a phenomenal flavor!”

Mullin said, “super food snacks (seeds and nuts) paired with the super foods are a great way to be introduced to these super foods.”

Mullin concluded by suggesting: “try to know the story of your food, its source its history; try being mindful of just how special these foods are!”

For more information, visit their website http://www.navitasnaturals.com.