Are Superfoods Superior?

If you read health articles, chances are you’ve come across the term “superfood”, but are these foods superior to others? Lets start with the basics. A “superfood” can be defined as any food that is nutritionally rich in a particular vitamin, mineral, or other substance that is beneficial to one’s health.  In recent years, the rise of health gurus advocating for the consumption of “superfoods” has increased and it can be difficult to distinguish whether someone is actually knowledgeable about nutrition, or if they are trying to sell you something that you might not need.

Can a cookie really be "super" in the health sense? I'm not sure, so I'll just assume they mean super-delicious!

Can a cookie really be “super” in the health sense? I’m not sure, so I’ll just assume they mean super-delicious!

The marketing of specially-formulated powders and supplements, even when they only contain “natural” ingredients, is something I’ve noticed recently, and it’s alarming, because something can be natural, and organic, but not necessarily healthy or essential for the body. Another thing I’ve noticed is just how many packaged items appear to be “superfoods”, when in reality, the most superior of foods are the ones you can find in a farm stand.  Fresh, seasonal produce is the definition of a “superfood” to me, especially if it is grown in nutrient-rich soil and doesn’t need to be imported or shipped from many miles away. The longer a food item is in transit, the more nutrients it loses. Comparing locally-grown blueberries to Amazonian-harvested açaí berries (a so-called “superfood”), it’s actually better to eat the local blueberries because not only will you get vitamins and antioxidants, you’ll be supporting local agriculture, instead of consuming an overpriced, nutritionally-similar açaí berry which must travel a great distance to get to your health food store. Of course, if you have the means to buy more expensive and exotic ingredients, be my guest, but if you’re looking for a nutritious, native source of antioxidants on the cheap, your local farmers market has a plethora of options.

In my opinion, there are no perfect foods. We need a balanced diet, and perfection isn't the goal.

In my opinion, there are no perfect foods.

So, besides supplements and açaí berries, what are some other so-called “superfoods”? Alternative-health experts will tell you to buy goji berries, maca, cacoa, among others, and while these foods definitely have benefits, you shouldn’t feel any less healthy by not buying into the hype. One does not need to have a diet full of “superfoods” to be super-healthy! Fresh berries, greens and other fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, dairy (if you tolerate it), and healthy fats are the things to focus on. My take is that a balanced diet based on whole foods is far superior than one based on supplements or packaged foods claiming to be “super”.

My idea of a meal full of "superfoods" is one rich in brightly colored, locally-grown vegetables.

My idea of a meal full of “superfoods” is one rich in brightly colored, locally-grown vegetables.

-Jess

A Very Happy Valentine’s Day, the Vitamin Valentine Way!

If you were wondering about the name of this blog, my last name is Valentine, so I’m obligated to love Valentine’s Day. In my experience, the best way to show someone you care is to make them something special (this is also a great way to save money). I made two delicious, easy, vegan fudge recipes that are super-rich and flavorful.

Dark Chocolate Banana Fudge

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1/2 cup coconut butter (to soften, you can heat it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds, you don’t want it melted)

1 ripe banana

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/8 tsp salt

2 tbsp. maple syrup

3 tbsp. cacoa powder (I used 100% cacao, unsweetened)

Blend ingredients using an electric mixer until everything is homogenized and there’s no huge particles of any one ingredient. Refrigerate over night, or freeze for 15-30 minutes and cut into the desired shape. Feel free to cut into heart-shapes for this holiday.

Peanut Butter Coconut Fudge

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1/2 cup coconut oil

1 cup peanut butter (I used creamy, but if you like chunky or natural style, or whatever else, feel free to substitute. Almond butter might also work in this recipe)

1/3 cup maple syrup

1 ripe banana

1 tsp. cinnamon

dash of salt

1 and 1/2 cups coconut flakes

In a glass dish/bowl, spread a thin layer of coconut flakes so that the bottom of the dish is covered. Don’t use the entire 1.5 cups. Set aside.

Combine all the other ingredients (minus the coconut flakes in the dish and the remaining coconut flakes set aside) and blend well until everything is mixed. Spread the mixture on top of the layer of coconut flakes. Then, use the remaining coconut and top the mixture creating a layer of coconut on top of the fudge. Refrigerate overnight or freeze for 15-30 minutes. Cut into desired shape & enjoy.

Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

xo,

-Jess