Getting the whole foods, clean eating thing down is one triumph you may have already concurred, but functional foods are a whole new realm. Let us introduce you these nutritional titans, or perhaps it’ll be a welcome recipe reminder for some!
They may seem like weird coloured powders, seeds and liquids you’ve never heard of but hold tight, you’ll fall in love with our easy superfood smoothies that combine some of natures finest functional foods for maximum nutrient density in a glass!
Thanks to globalisation, we now have access to an abundance of these amazing functional foods people from around the world have been thriving off for centuries. And luckily you can simply throw them in the blender with some fruit and vegetables, so beginners needn’t worry about strange new tastes, they’ll blend right in. Except maybe for spirulina, she’s sassier than Beyoncé.
Maca is a Peruvian herb, rich in vitamins (B1, B2, B12, C and E) and essential minerals (calcium, selenium, magnesium, phosphorus, silica, sodium, zinc, manganese, copper and iron), and high in fatty acids omega-3 and omega-9. Though studies are still being concluded, maca has a great reputation for balancing hormones. It’s been used traditionally to aid with menopause discomfort and fertility, making it a helpful superfood for women in particular.
You may be wondering ‘what is psyllium husk?’ In short, psyllium husk is your digestive systems BFF. Psyllium is one of those old school functional foods, and is made from the fibres of the Plantago Ovate plant. It’s also very high in fibre. How high? Just one tablespoon of psyllium husk will provide you with 5 grams of fibre! We need around 30 grams of fibre a day, so psyllium husk is a super convenient way to hit that number.
Besides promoting overall digestive health, you should think of psyllium husk as your bathroom buddy. It expands in your body and soaks up water in your gut, helping move waste through your digestive system. So technically, psyllium helps you detox, because it’s not just what we eat, but what we excrete that is critical to our overall health and wellbeing – and you need healthy bowel movements for that. Another benefit of psyllium husk is that it can be used as a one-off to ease constipation. To get the benefits of psyllium husk daily, simply add it to your smoothies or stir through your breakfast bowls.
Like chocolate? You’ll love cacao. It’s the purest form of chocolate, before being stripped of its goodness. You probably don’t need any more convincing, but let us give you a bit more info. Unlike conventional cocoa powders, raw cacao is minimally processed, so not only does it taste amazing, it’s packed with antioxidants, fibre, iron and magnesium. And thanks to high levels of serotonin (a feel-good hormone that stablises mood and can help regulate appetite) cacao is credited with giving people a blissful feeling. Suddenly it all makes scientific sense!
Ch-ch-ch-chia! Despite their small size, chia seeds are packed full of important nutrients making them one of our go to functional foods. They are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help to raise HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol that helps protect against heart attack and stroke).
The benefits of chia seeds are endless. They’re rich in antioxidants and full of magnesium, zinc, iron and calcium. They’re also high in soluble fibre, and are therefore great for digestion. If you leave chia seeds in any liquid for 10 minutes and they thicken up to a gel like consistency, perfect for making thick smoothies.
Spirulina is the detoxing queen of all functional foods. It contains one of the highest densities of protein found in any food, offers more beta-carotene than carrots, more iron than raw spinach, and more calcium than milk, on gram per gram basis. Its wealth of nutrients is unparalleled. When consumed with dark leafy green vegetables, spirulina induces the detoxification process in the body.
Spirulina is actually an algae, and we admit sometimes it sure tastes like it! Try out this smoothie if you’re game. It actually tastes pretty good, and the health benefits will leave you feeling pretty good too.
We go on and on about coconut oil for a reason. It’s loaded with nutrients, and is great for bulking up smoothies if you’re making a meal out of them, or needing a bit of extra energy for a big day.
Coconut oil contains medium chain fatty acids, used as a source of fuel for the body. These ‘good’ fats actually increase metabolism, which is why they are referred to as ‘fat burning’ or ‘thermogenic’. Coconut oil also contains naturally occurring proteins, vitamins A and C, calcium and iron.
Steel cut oats
Steel cut oats are so much more than just cereal. The discovery of healthy cholesterol-lowering soluble fibre in oats has sealed its status as a legitimate health food. Oats are also the only cereal containing a legume-like protein, which has been shown by the World Health Organisation to be equal to meat, milk, and egg protein.
Steel cut oats feature a dense, chewy texture and a nuttier flavour than rolled oats, perfect for combining with nut butters in smoothies. However, people with food allergies and gluten sensitivity should consult with their doctors first before enjoying this nutritious food.
Think oatmeal is boring? Give these overnight oats a go. Not a smoothie, but perfect for those mornings when you have zero time. It is grab and go - like a smoothie.
Sometimes it’s a struggle to get enough protein, particularly when you’re vegetarian or vegan. Enter plant protein. Take our Plant Power Multi, just one serve will give you over 6 grams of high quality plant protein and is easily blended through a smoothies - no weird grittiness either!
Nutrient dense wholefood blends make it so much easier to get the nourishment your body needs in concentrated doses. Our antioxidant boost with blackcurrant, chia seed and cacao provides your body with free-radical fighting antioxidants along with an impressive 5700mg of Omega 3 per serve!
This wholefood blend also contains an abundance of fibre, plus loads of essential nutrients including Vitamin B1 (Thiamin), Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Vitamin E, Selenium, Magnesium, Iron, Folate, Manganese, Phosphorus and Zinc.
Matcha green tea powder
Matcha is favoured by Buddhist monks as natural fuel for the mind, body and soul. With just a third of the caffeine of coffee, balanced by its unique nutrient composition, matcha powder has a special focusing effect. Harness those 3.00pm imaginations! One serve can offer the benefits of up to 10 cups of regular green tea! If you're new to matcha, start off with a half teaspoon and work your way up.
The hero in many a curry, the growing benefits of turmeric continue to amaze researchers. Turmeric is loaded with nutrients, especially antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, which is where most of the scientific research has focused to date. Curcumin, the main active ingredient found in turmeric, has also been studied in depth for cancer prevention, and is the component responsible for most of turmeric’s medicinal benefits and properties.
As with most scientific studies, active compounds and components of food are studied in large doses, which is not always applicable to daily life. Incorporating turmeric daily into your oats or smoothies is one way to get more turmeric action though. You might have seen turmeric lattes on offer next to fat blacks at your local coffee spot, so that’s another viable option to getting your daily turmeric fix.
As a guide, a ¼ teaspoon of ground turmeric is roughly equivalent to a half tablespoon of fresh grated turmeric. So hopefully now you are inspired to get blending!