“Let food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food,” to quote Hippocrates. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a Superfood as “a food considered especially nutritious or otherwise beneficial to health and well-being.” The term Superfood has become commonplace and a bit overused, kind of like ‘amazing’ and ‘nice.’
What is a Superfood and why do some foods become anointed with the title? A Superfood is typically a food with high phytonutrient content that may may contain significant amounts of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber, and may confer health benefits as a result. It is also a food that is nutrient-dense rather than calorically-dense.
Here is a list of some ‘Superfoods’ that you may want to add to your babies’ and toddlers’ daily meals and snacks to give them a nutritional boost (And yours too!):
Avocados-provide nearly 20 essential nutrients, including fiber, potassium, Vitamin E, B-vitamins and folic acid.
Blueberries-Blueberries are among the highest anti-oxidant value fruits; even better if organic (non-organic blueberries and other berries contain high amounts of pesticides)
Broccoli-high in polyphenols, which have been shown to be anti-carcinogenic.
Beets-high in antioxidants and fiber. Don’t throw out the greens on top of the beets, as they are an excellent source of carotenoids, flavonoid anti-oxidants and vitamin A.
Cayenne pepper– has anti-inflammatory properties. Use in very small amounts because of its spiciness.
Chia Seeds-the old-but-new Mayan ‘superseed’ that is high in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, protein and antioxidants. Chia seeds are a complete protein, which means they contain all the essential and non-essential amino acids, perfect for vegetarian diets. (See “How to make Chia Gel” to add to recipes)
Cinnamon (real Ceylon cinnamon)- another anti-inflammatory spice.
Coconut and Coconut oil– I use this in place of other oils when baking, scrambling eggs or sautéing fish. I also use coconut when making homemade granola, trail mix and granola bars.
Dark chocolate– I recommend using organic, raw cacao powder (also know as cocoa); Cacao is high in antioxidants, but does have a minor caffeine content. A typical sample of cacao nibs or cacao beans will yield anywhere from zero caffeine to 1,000 parts per million of caffeine (less than 1/20th of the caffeine present in coffee).
Flaxseed-high in fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and lignans (shown to provide protection against hormone –sensitive cancers such as breast cancer).
Garlic-anti-inflammatory and may help strengthen the immune system.
Ginger-anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial
Green tea-This one is recommended for adults and older children, not babies and toddlers! contains the polyphenols, or antioxidants, EGCG that contain 200 times the antioxidant amounts as Vitamin E. Also contains caffeine
Pomegranates-high in polyphenols
Turmeric-another anti-inflammatory spice used to color foods.
Walnuts-contain a high concentration of omega 3 fatty acids. Sometimes called ‘brain food.’ You can grind them up into a powder and add to recipes (often recommended for babies older than 1 year due to possible allergy issues).
Wild Salmon-eating wild-caught salmon is not only best for health reasons, but for environmental reasons as well. The best choice is Alaskan wild-caught salmon due to its low risk of contamination with mercury, pesticides and PCBs (also know as polychlorinated biphenyls, which are found in high amounts in farm-raised salmon.) PCBs come from leaky equipment, illegal dumping, waste oil from electrical equipment, and hazardous waste. These chemicals taint the soil, which then runs off into salmon farm waters, resulting in contaminated fish. Farmed salmon eat smaller fish with high amounts of PCBs in their fatty tissue. When the salmon eat the fish, PCBs are stored in their own fatty tissue. Then we eat it…
Shiloh’s Favorite Oatmeal with Apples, Blueberries and Walnuts- Serves 6
½ cup rolled oats (grind oats to fine grind in Baby Bullet using grain blade)
½ cup fresh organic blueberries (or frozen if not available)
2 cups homemade apple puree (4 apples; wash, core and peel apples; cut into 1-inch pieces; steam for 8 to 10 minutes in steamer basket reserving liquid (use purified water); spoon apples into baby bullet and puree using reserved liquid in small amounts to bring to desired thickness).
1 T. ground walnuts
Wash and steam blueberries until soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer ½ of blueberries to the Baby Bullet. Bring 2 cups of water to boil in a medium saucepan. Add the ground oat powder and whisk constantly for 7 to 10 minutes until thickened. Add 1/3 of the oat mixture and ½ cup of the apple puree to the Baby Bullet and puree together until smooth. Repeat with rest of the blueberries, oats and apple puree. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and stir in ground walnuts. Serve warm. Store remaining portions in the refrigerator. (If there is any left.)
How to Make Your Own Chia Gel
The ratio: 1/3 cup Chia Seeds to 2 cups filtered or spring water (room temperature or slightly warmer). If you want a thinner consistency try 1/3 cup Chia Seeds to 3 cups water.
Recipe: Pour water into a container with a tightly closeable lid, such as a mason jar. Pour dry seeds into the water. Shake the container for 15 seconds.Let stand for 1 minute and shake again. This basic chia gel mixture will keep in the refrigerator for 2 weeks. Add up to one equal part of the mixture to sauces, drinks, yogurt, salad dressings, cream cheese (or cream cheese substitutes), jams, jellies, preserves, salsa, hot/cold cereals, yogurt, dips, puddings, soups, or other liquid or creamy foods. The gel won’t affect flavor, but definitely increases nutritional value.
Rate your seafood choices here. You can also download their app on your phone http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx