I am back in Chiang Mai after the weeks of hard kitchen work in Bali and enjoying the peace and relaxed vibe of my favourite Asian city. I am living my dream of writing a book – right now even two: I am ghostwriting a book about business and sustainability and of course working on my cookbook project. And loving every minute!
Winter has arrived here. While the temperature is still a cosy 28°and the sun shines every day, winter is showing up on my breakfast plate. At the local market there is no pretending or importing fruit from all over the world, if mangos are out of season, there simply aren’t any. So at the moment, it’s all about pineapples, papayas and watermelons. Oh and bananas of course, they seem to grow everywhere and all the time.
At every market there is a stand selling giant fruit shakes and smoothies: just fruit and ice blended to a soft cream you can eat with a spoon, delicious! I’ll walk a mile for a mango-pineapple-passion fruit one but pineapple-banana-coconut and mango-avocado are lovely too (yes, try blending your favourite fruit with half an avocado, so yummy!).
Smoothies are also the best way to get nutritious and yummy super foods into your system. Super-what? David Wolfe, one of the icons of the raw food movement, defined a list of foods that are naturally very high in minerals, vitamins, healthy fats and plant-based protein and named them Superfoods. Check out the European web store PlanetBio: It is a sales pitch but it has great information on it and you can download a free eBook. Super foods are also easy to carry with you when you travel and will turn a fruit juice into a complete yummy meal in a second. Here are my personal top 5:
- Hemp hearts: Two tablespoons of hemp seeds make every smoothie rich and creamy and they are naturally high in omega 3 and protein. Flax seeds are a good alternative but don’t give the same soft and creamy result.
- Chia seeds: These tiny little black seeds are not very well known outside of the raw food world but they are miraculous. Like flax they take a jelly-ish consistency when soaked and make delicious puddings with nut milk, vanilla and fresh fruit. Just google “chia pudding” and give them a try! They make smoothies nice and thick and are also a great source of omega 3 and protein.
- (Goji) Berries: I am a little suspicious of goji berries. They are a superstar in Chinese longevity medicine but since becoming fashionable they are mass-imported from China in very questionable quality. Look out for wild berries at your local farmer’s market (or in forests and gardens), they all have well-researched healing properties and are certainly better for you than imports from far away. Wild strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries grow all over Europe from May to September, just take a container with you on walks and hikes and pick your breakfast for the next day! That said, goji berries do look beautiful in desserts and on cakes. Açai berries have great properties too, you can find them in health food stores as a dry powder, some say their royal purple pigments contain heaps of antioxidants and… magic.
- Spirulina is a micro algae (sea weed) and might just be the food with the highest protein (over 60%!) content around. It is also packed full with minerals such as iron and magnesium. Chlorella has similar properties. They taste quite special and best mixed with strong and sweet flavors like banana, mango or peach.
- Dark leafy greens make the most nutritious smoothies ever. Blending the tough-leaved greens makes them much easier for our bodies to assimilate (we don’t have 6 hours to chew our meals like our gorilla cousins) the valuable minerals and other nutrients. The health-conscious love greens like wheatgrass and barley greens because they are so nutrient-dense but fresh dandelion and nettle leaves or herbs from your garden, balcony or kitchen window are just fine too. Try combining strawberries with basil next summer, seriously yummy.
Raw cacao, maca powder, bee pollen, mesquite, lucuma: there are many, many more natural power foods that give you everything you need to reach your goals, whatever they may be. Do we need them? If you are taking synthetic supplements then yes: super foods will give you a big boost of minerals and magic dust from the plant world, a million times better than any pharmaceutical company will ever do. Play, experiment and find the ones that make you feel good and trust Mother Nature will take care of the rest.
Here are three recipes for tasty super food smoothies, give them a try!
Winter “Nutella” Magic
Raw cacao powder (not the fake sugary stuff) is made of beans that have fermented and dried in the sun and has great healing properties. It also contains quite a bit of magnesium which is essential for our body to function well. If you can’t get raw cacao, try and find an organic and fair trade brand.
- 2 cups almond or hazelnut milk
- 2 T chia seeds (soak in the milk for 10+ minutes before blending)
- 2-4 tablespoons (T) cacao powder to taste (I say the more the better!)
- 1 teaspoon (t) cinnamon
- 1 T coconut oil (or any other high quality nut oil)
- 1 T raw/cold-processed honey
Blend all ingredients until smooth and frothy.
Summer Berry Anti-oxidant Blast
I am a big advocate of seasonal fruit & veg but frozen or otherwise preserved berries are a great little anti-oxidant treat in the winter months.
- 1 cup spring water
- 2 cups berries (wild blueberries taste amazing in this one)
- 1/2 an avocado
- 2 T hemp seeds
- 1-2 T açai berry powder (optional)
- 1 T honey (optional)
Blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy.
Green Mineral Power Boost
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups dark leafy greens & herbs (any mix of romaine, kale, spinach, young dandelion or nettle, basil, mint, parsley leaves…)
- 1 small banana or 1/2 an avocado (banana will tone down the “green” taste)
- 1-2 T spirulina or chlorella
- 1 T honey (optional)
Blend all ingredients until the greens are completely broken down, creamy and smooth.