If you are new to all this what, you may very well ask, are Super Foods?
Well amongst the better known are blueberries, kale and salmon. No doubt you will have heard countless times about the nutritional benefits of these everyday ingredients, commonly labelled “Super Foods.”
There’s no official scientific definition of a Super Food, but it’s generally accepted that Super Foods contain high levels of much-needed vitamins and minerals. They can also be a source of antioxidants, substances that shield our bodies from cell damage and help prevent disease.
While there are a number of common foods that provide these nutrients, there is also an array of more exotic and less mainstream Super foods that are worth getting to know. These include Kefir, Acai, Maca and mangosteens but more about these next week.
Today we are going to focus on one of the best known and loved Super foods the Avocado.
As super foods go, they don’t come much more versatile than the avocado. The soft, creamy consistency and the mild, nutty flavour pair with just about anything, adding a generous portion of healthy fats, potassium, phosphorus, vitamin K and folate to your plate. Delicious at breakfast, lunch, dinner and even snack time, it’s little wonder that avocados are one of the most popular and widely grown fruits around the world.
To celebrate the avocado in all it’s smooth, buttery glory, here’s a list of 16 ways to use them.
1. On their own, with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of Himalayan Salt. An excellent energy boosting snack!
2. Paired with scrambled eggs and bacon for a classic paleo breakfast!
3. With tomatoes: Avocados and tomatoes pair exceptionally well together, and as it turns out, that’s no co-incidence. When paired together, avocados increase the absorption of lycopene, the cancer-preventing antioxidant found in tomatoes. In a study by the University of Ohio, pairing avocado with tomatoes improved lycopene absorption by 400%!
4. Cut into wedges and added to almost any salad
5. Guacamole: Mash two ripe avocados with the juice of half a lime, half a clove crushed garlic, two finely chopped spring onions, one red chilli (optional), salt, pepper, and fresh herbs. Ideal for Mexican dishes, burgers and salads!
6. Added to smoothies for extra creaminess
7. Sliced on top of a home-made chilli
8. Coconut crusted avocado fries. Need we say any more?
9. Added to burgers, along with caramelised onions
10. Paired with grilled chicken and a dash of cayenne pepper
11. Avocado pesto: For a twist on the classic pesto, mash a ripe avocado together with pine nuts, fresh basil, a squeeze of lemon and a little garlic.
12. Halved and topped with a generous splash of hot sauce
13. Raw chocolate making: Believe it or not, avocados are fantastic for making healthy desserts – especially those that involve chocolate! Use them in brownies, chocolate mousse, truffles and cakes to add a wonderful creaminess.
14. Avocado ice cream: Blend an avocado, a frozen banana, 200ml coconut milk and a dash of vanilla extract. Leave in the freezer for 3-4 hours, mixing every hour or so. Allow to thaw slightly before serving, topped with fresh berries!
And they’re not just for eating, either…
15. As a face mask: Great for dry and sensitive complexions, avocado face masks are an excellent way to provide your skin with much needed hydration and nutrients. Avocado oil is used in many of the leading anti-aging moisturisers and treatment lotions – but to save yourself some money, use the whole fruit instead! Our favourite avocado face mask combines three tbsp mashed avocado, one tsp raw honey, and one tsp macadamia oil. Apply to face for 10 – 15 minutes once a week for a serious complexion boost!
16. As a hair mask: Avocado is amazing for dry hair. Combine half a mashed avocado with an egg yolk and a tablespoon of olive oil. Massage into hair from root to tip, then leave to set for 30 minutes before rinsing. When avocado is combined with egg yolk and oil, it acts as a humectant, infusing moisture deep into the hair cells.
How do you use your avocados?
Superfoods are foods that are high in nutrie
nts and health-giving properties.
Eating a diet rich in superfoods should help to control weight, curb hunger pangs and cravings, protect from diseases and boost the immune system.
But knowing what to eat and how to eat it can be confusing. Getting the most out of superfoods means a wide variety of fruit and vegetables in rich colours, as well as lean meats and oily fish.
Here is our top 10 must-have superfoods:
1. Almonds: Packed with vitamins, minerals, proteins and fibre. Almonds make a great addition to any salad or dessert. Almond milk is also a nutritious dairy-free alternative to cow’s milk.
2. Bananas: Rich in potassium, fibre, vitamin B6, magnesium and manganese, they strengthen the immune system as they contain cytolcin which is believed to increase white blood cells. Bananas give a natural energy boost and help to reduce stress levels because of their tryptophan content, a chemical that converts to the feel-good hormone serotonin.
3. Butternut squash: The deep yellow colour means it’s high in beta carotene, which helps to protect against skin cancer.
4. Chia seeds: The richest source of plant-based omega 3 fatty acids, loaded with antioxidants, high in protein, minerals and fibre. Chia seeds swell to more than five times their weight in liquid, so they’ll help make you feel quicker, and can help with weight loss.
5. Chocolate/raw cacao: Dairy-free 70 percent cocoa or higher elevates your mood, improves your blood flow and can lower blood pressure. It helps reduce inflammation and bad cholesterol and contains heaps of antioxidants.
Raw cacao is even better as none of the nutrients are lost in heat treatment, so make up your own raw chocolates instead. Raw cacao contains more antioxidants than acai, goji or blueberries.
6. Cinnamon: Stabilises blood sugar levels and encourages blood flow through the body.
7. Coconut oil: Quickly and easily absorbed by the body, so it’s an easy source of energy that may help you burn more fat. It helps to protect against heart disease and slightly lowers cholesterol.
It is excellent for cooking as it does not form harmful trans fats when heated, even at high temperatures. Use in place of butter and oil in cooking. A small pinch of salt can be added to savoury recipes to reduce the coconut flavour.
8. Cumin: Contains anti-inflammatory properties and also helps reduce bloating.
9. Greek yoghurt: An excellent source of calcium, potassium,protein, zinc and vitamins B6 and B12. Contains probiotic cultures and is lower in lactose than regular yoghurt, but with twice the amount of protein. Eat with fresh berries instead of shop-bought fruit yoghurt, which can be high in sugar.
10. Hemp: A good source of protein, especially relevant to vegans. Contains omega-3 and 6 fatty acids and is thought to be energy boosting.