The Super Duper Food
There has been an explosion of functional foods from Maca Roots to Camu Camu berries to Acai berries. Every day we have more options of nutrient-dense superfoods to help steer us away from the fast food paradigm. Now more than ever we can embrace a more holistic model that encourages eating from Mother Nature’s bounty as opposed to processed, chemically-laden foods that interfere with our well being. There is no question that we should all strive to eat a diversity of plant- based superfoods, for all foods offer a unique array of compounds in a specific synergy that is as distinctive as each person’s thumbprint. In this vast sea of superfoods it is easy to become dizzy with superfood overload. To add to the difficulty, everything these days is a superfood. And so even though all superfoods are intrinsically beneficial and important, for most people the question inevitably becomes where to start.
I often get asked the question: “If there were just one superfood I could buy, which one would it be?” I will admit that I do have a top 10 list, but I always refer to my “desert island superfood” to be Certified Organic Sprouted Chia Powder. This is without a doubt the single most important addition to anyone’s daily diet. We have all heard of the incredible little seed known as Chia, the trekking fuel of the famed Aztecs and Mayans. It has gained much interest in being a satiety food, able to curb cravings and is often used in weight management programs. It also helps with regularity and maintaining stable blood sugar and cholesterol levels. It is also pleasant to eat in that it does not have an overwhelming flavour and combines with virtually anything.
It is without a doubt one of the highest vegetarian sources of Omega 3 loaded with protein, fibre and antioxidants, but it comes with some complication. This seed, like all seeds in nature contains phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors that block the very nutrients that one is consuming the seed for! Soaking chia seeds overnight has become the answer, but this does not shift the biochemistry of the seed to truly reflect the miracle of germination. When the seed is properly sprouted, phytic acid is reduced by 50%, vitamins C and E as well as vital enzymes are dramatically increased and antioxidants double. The nutrition of the seed is “unlocked” through the process of germination and so Sprouted Chia is really the true superfood, not raw Chia seeds!
This begs the question: “If soaking the seed is not enough, how do I sprout it?” This is a very difficult process, more so than the sprouting of other seeds and grains because chia is mucilaginous in nature and so gums up very easily. Germination of this precious seed is as much a science as it is an art. One company, Organic Traditions has mastered this complex and delicate process. The seeds require the care of constant agitation and appropriate temperature and moisture control in order to elicit the growth of new life that takes chia from being a dormant seed into a living plant. It is truly a miraculous process, one that is necessary to elevate this seed into true superfood status.
Once germinated and cold milled into a fine powder, sprouted chia is truly an incredible superfood that will change your life with no more soaking, rinsing or fussing. The antioxidant score is now so high that it is shelf- stable for up to two years. One tablespoon provides an ORAC of 2,500. It may sound overly dramatic to think that this will change your life, but if you are on the go and need something to keep blood sugar levels stable while being loaded with superfood nutrition in the form of Omega 3, fibre, Calcium, Zinc and Iron, then this is truly a boon.
The second area that needs more clarification is use. People are often limited to thinking of Sprouted Chia solely in terms of a smoothie food. Indeed it is the single most important addition to every smoothie. Many smoothies are laden with too many fruits, raising the glycemic index and simply not offering enough of the nutrients found in Sprouted Chia. Sprouted Chia will in fact lower the glycemic index of any recipe you add it to. But beyond adding 1-2 tablespoons to every smoothie recipe, it can be easily incorporated into everything you eat at every meal! For breakfast add a tablespoon to your yogurt, your cereal or on top of a bowl of berries finished with a dash of almond milk. For lunch, take it to the office and sprinkle it on your salad or mix a tablespoon with your dressing, add it to your chili or soup, and for dinner mix it in with stews, add it to your guacamole or make raw nourishing desserts! This is the perfect superfood for busy moms who want to easily smuggle it into their children’s meals from apple sauce to muffins. There is no limit to its versatility and applicability.
You can see why I am truly a fan of Sprouted Chia. Germination is one of the oldest food technologies employed by early societies. It shifts this humble seed into one of the most nutrient dense superfoods. I would be truly content and well nourished on my desert island with Sprouted Chia mixed in water and of course a handful of freshly picked berries!
Renita Rietz is a health and nutrition writer and educates on the pharmacologic and phytotherapeutic potential of indigenous foods and plants for
prevention and regeneration. renita@advantagehealthmatters.