Make the Perfect Healthy Smoothie: What to Include and Why

healthy smoothies

Smoothies are more than just a popular trend; they’re a fantastic way to pack a wealth of nutrition into a delicious, convenient meal. Perfect for on-the-go breakfasts or nutrient-packed snacks, a healthy smoothie can be tailored to suit any taste or dietary requirement.

Whether you’re a smoothie pro looking for new ideas, or you’re just beginning your journey into the world of blended meals, this guide is here to help. We’ll explore the key ingredients for a healthy smoothie, take a look at some of the benefits they offer, and share some ideas for smoothie combinations.

Blenders at the ready, it’s time to start making the perfect healthy smoothie!

The Key Ingredients for a Healthy Smoothie

Before we look at some specific ingredients, let’s quickly consider the anatomy of a smoothie because there is one very important component that is easy to overlook. That’s right; liquid. Without liquid, your smoothie is going nowhere.

What liquid is best for making a smoothie?

A smoothie doesn’t really need a lot of liquid. The liquid has two parts to play. It helps give the desired consistency, but it also helps keep things moving in the blender. If you have ever tried to blend something like frozen banana chunks in a personal blender just to have the blades spin and the motor burn, then you know exactly what we are talking about.

The best liquid for making a smoothie largely depends on your personal preference and nutritional goals. the main question is whether you do dairy or you don’t.

Water is a simple addition that can keep the flavours clean without the addition of extra calories (or nutrients).

Milk (including non-dairy versions like almond, soy, or oat milk) adds a creamy texture and can contribute additional protein and nutrients.

Coconut water is a refreshing choice that can help to hydrate and replenish electrolytes after a workout.

Fruit juice can add sweetness, acidity and an extra dimension of flavour as well as vitamins and minerals.

Remember, the key is to choose a liquid base that complements your other ingredients and aligns with your health objectives. Just be mindful of added sugars in some milk alternatives and fruit juices. Now we have the liquid part covered, let’s look at the other key ingredients in a healthy smoothie.

What are the best ingredients to put in a smoothie?

Fruits and berries

These are fundamentally the heart and soul of any good smoothie. They provide natural sweetness, vibrant colours, and a variety of textures. More importantly, they are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that promote a healthy body and mind. Whether fresh frozen, or powdered the possibilities are endless, allowing you to mix and match to create your perfect blend.

Vegetables

They may not be quite as appealing as fruit but they are loaded with fibre, which aids digestion, and are rich in vitamins and minerals. They also offer particular plant nutrients that you won’t find in fruit, and of course, contain less sugar. Leafy greens like spinach or kale are a popular choice, but don’t shy away from adding other veggies like cucumber, carrot, or even beets for a refreshing twist.

Proteins

Crucial for a balanced smoothie, proteins provide substantial satiety and aid muscle recovery, particularly after exercise. There are many ingredients you can add to a smoothie to boost the protein content. Here are just a few.

  • Protein Powder: If you’re really looking to ramp up your protein intake, consider adding a scoop or two of protein powder. There are many options out there, including plant-based varieties like pea or hemp protein.
  • Greek Yogurt: Greek yogurt not only provides a hefty dose of protein but also contributes a creamy texture to your smoothie.
  • Nut Butter: Whether it’s peanut, almond, or cashew, nut butter can add a delicious, protein-filled punch to your smoothie.
  • Chia Seeds: These little seeds are not only a good source of protein but also packed with essential omega-3 fatty acids.

Healthy Fats

These are another vital component of a balanced smoothie. Here are some great ingredients you can add to your smoothie for a healthy fat boost. Many of them also include protein so you get two for the price of one, so to speak. Nuts and seeds are excellent examples of ingredients that provide a cross-spectrum of valuable nutrients. You may find our article on super seeds useful.

  • Avocado: This creamy fruit is high in monounsaturated fats, which can help to reduce bad cholesterol levels and lower the risk of heart disease.
  • Flaxseeds: As well as protein, flaxseeds are packed with omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Chia seeds: Chia seeds are also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Hemp seeds: These little seeds are rich in both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and they’re also a great plant-based protein source.
  • Coconut oil: It’s high in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), a type of fat that your body can absorb and use quickly.
  • Almond butter: Almonds are rich in monounsaturated fats, and also provide a good dose of vitamin E. Choose an almond butter with no added sugars or oils for the healthiest option.
  • Walnuts: Walnuts are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help to reduce inflammation. They’re also rich in antioxidants.

Powdered Superfoods for a Superfood Smoothie

Most of the ingredients we have already talked about can be considered superfoods in their own right. Yet as powdered superfoods become more and more available, they deserve a special mention. Not only can they provide a super nutritional boost to your smoothies, but they are easy to blend and have the added benefit of a longer shelf life than fresh produce. You can find out more in our guide to superfood powders.

Fruit powders

These can be used instead of or alongside fresh fruit. Use them to target specific nutrients, or to create interesting flavour combinations. Plus, they are super easy to use.

Explore our range of fruit powders

Greens powders

These are a really good way to add the nutritional benefits of vegetables, without altering the flavour profile of your smoothie too much. And not just greens, consider adding beetroot or carrot powders too.

Explore our range of vegetable powders

Protein powders

These got a mention before, but they are an excellent way to boost the protein power of your smoothie.

Explore our range of protein powders

Superfood powders

These include all of the above yet there are some other ingredients that can give you an extra boost, such as cacao or maca powder.

Here’s some other smoothie ingredients you may like

And finally, here’s a bunch of ideas (see what we did there) for healthy smoothies.

Some of our Favourite Healthy Breakfast Smoothies

When it comes to healthy breakfast smoothies you want something that will fill you up and keep you going throughout the morning, and possibly even well into the afternoon. Oats are great, as is an extra protein boost as well as some healthy fats.

Banana Coffee Kick-starter: A smoothie perfect for those who want an early morning energy boost. Blend bananas with a shot of espresso, a splash of almond milk, and a scoop of vanilla protein powder.

Blueberry Muffin Smoothie: Capturing the flavours of a blueberry muffin, this smoothie includes blueberries, oats, almond milk, and a dash of vanilla extract. Sweeten with a little honey if desired.

Carrot Cake Smoothie: Create this dessert-like smoothie with fresh carrots, banana, almond milk, a touch of cinnamon, and a spoonful of vanilla protein powder. Top with walnuts for a crunchy finish.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Smoothie: For a hearty breakfast, blend oats, peanut butter, banana, and your choice of milk. This smoothie will keep you full and energized all morning.

Banana Oatmeal Smoothie: Ideal for a filling breakfast, this smoothie includes bananas, oats, and almond milk. A drizzle of honey will add a hint of sweetness.

Green Tea Smoothie: This smoothie combines the health benefits of green tea and spinach. Blend these with bananas and honey for a deliciously sweet and healthy drink.

More Banana Smoothie Ideas

Banana is the ideal base for any smoothie, with its sweet taste and creamy texture. There’s no wonder it is the most popular smoothie ingredient out there.

Tropical Banana Smoothie: Transport yourself to the tropics with this blend of banana, pineapple, and coconut milk. Add a squeeze of lime for a tangy twist.

Cinnamon Banana Smoothie: This smoothie is like a drinkable banana bread. Blend bananas with a touch of cinnamon, a dash of vanilla extract, and almond milk.

Banana Chocolate Smoothie: A healthy yet indulgent option, blend bananas with cacao powder and almond milk. Add a scoop of chocolate protein powder for extra protein.

More Green Smoothie Ideas

There’s no need to be scared of a green smoothie. When combined with clever ingredients, you won’t encounter the dreaded green sludge.

Green Goddess Smoothie: This smoothie is packed with nutrients from avocado, spinach, green apple, and almond milk. Sprinkle with chia seeds for a boost of fibre.

Zesty Green Smoothie: Blend lime, spinach, cucumber, and coconut water for a refreshing and zesty green smoothie that’s perfect for summer.

Minty Fresh Green Smoothie: Blend spinach, mint leaves, green apple, and almond milk for a refreshingly minty green smoothie. Add a dollop of yogurt for added creaminess.

More Peanut Butter Smoothie Ideas

Everybody loves peanut butter but don’t forget you can switch out any nut butter you like.

PB&J Smoothie: For a twist on a classic, blend together strawberries (or any of your favourite berries), peanut butter, and milk.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie: For a dessert-like option, blend natural peanut butter, banana, cacao powder, and your choice of milk.

Peanut Butter Berry Smoothie: Blend your favourite mixed berries, natural peanut butter, and almond milk for a fruity and nutty delight.

There you have it, an array of smoothie ideas that are as delicious as they are nutritious. Whether you’re a fan of fruity flavours, a green machine, or a peanut butter lover, there’s sure to be a smoothie for you. A healthy breakfast smoothie will set you up for the day, but smoothies are a usual addition to your nutritional arsenal any time of day.

Don’t forget to explore our full range of smoothie ingredients, available to order online right now. There’s even a bulk buy option for some great savings.


This article was reproduced on this site with permission from operafoods.com.au the “Smoothie Nutrients & Ingredients Suppliers”.
See original article:- Make the Perfect Healthy Smoothie: What to Include and Why

Maca Powder: The Superfood You Need in Your Diet

maca powder

Maca Powder: The Superfood You Need in Your Diet

Maca powder has been the superfood world’s best-kept secret for quite some time now, yet the popularity of this powerful little root continues to grow. If you are looking to elevate your health and wellness journey, this is certainly something that you may want to consider incorporating into your daily diet. Maca has an impressive nutritional profile and may offer some pretty amazing health benefits, from boosting energy levels to balancing hormones.

What is Maca Powder?

Maca powder comes from the maca root, a plant native to Peru that grows in the harsh climates of the Andes mountains. The root, which comes in a variety of colours including white, red, and black, is dried and ground into a fine powder. It has been used for centuries in traditional medicine due to its array of health benefits, and thanks to its host of beneficial nutrients and powerful properties is now widely used as a nutritional supplement.

The unique taste of maca powder can be described as earthy and nutty, with a slight hint of butterscotch. It is not overly sweet but has a somewhat malty flavour which may take some getting used to for those new to its use. It has a rich, distinctive taste that goes well with some ingredients, but not with others.

The Nutritional Profile of Maca Powder

Maca root is a strong, resilient plant that survives in the harshest of environments and as such has built up powerful biological defences. This protective armour translates into a whole host of nutritional compounds.

Rich in nutrients, and brimming with vital vitamins and minerals, maca is a valuable source of protein, fibre, and essential fatty acids. It also boasts an impressive array of micronutrients. But as we shall see, the real power of maca lies within its unique plant compounds and their unusual properties.

A rich source of vitamins and minerals

Maca root powder is particularly notable for its high levels of Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that boosts the immune system and aids in the body’s production of collagen. It also has good levels of vitamins B1 and B2, for energy metabolism, and vitamin E.

Iron, a significant mineral in maca powder, is vital for carrying oxygen from our lungs to the cells of our body. Potassium, key for nerve function and muscle health, and manganese, a trace mineral that aids in metabolism and bone development, also feature prominently in this potent powder.

Maca root is a particularly rich source of minerals and also contains calcium, iodine, magnesium, zinc and selenium.

A source of protein and fibre

The protein and fibre content in maca powder have crucial roles to play in our overall health and well-being.

A noteworthy source of protein, maca powder provides essential amino acids which are crucial for muscle growth and repair, as well as supporting a healthy immune system. Fibre digestive health.

Maca powder is also rich in fibre, which not only supports digestive health but also helps to maintain a feeling of fullness, which can be beneficial for weight management.

Powerful antioxidant properties

Maca powder has powerful antioxidant properties, which help the body neutralize a range of harmful molecules called free radicals. Antioxidants are substances that can prevent or slow damage to cells caused by these free radicals.

The high levels of Vitamin C and manganese in maca root contribute significantly to its antioxidant profile. These antioxidants help to strengthen the body’s natural defences and prevent oxidative stress, which is linked to numerous diseases including heart disease and cancer.

What’s more, the antioxidant profile of maca is believed to boost cognitive health, aiding in memory and learning functions.

The Health Benefits of Maca

But it is the surprising health benefits of maca powder that make this superfood so interesting. It has been shown to enhance energy and stamina, improve mental clarity and focus, and balance hormone levels. Traditionally used to increase fertility, the antioxidant properties of maca also make it a powerful ally for your immune system. And it does these things in a very special way.

Maca is adaptogenic

Maca root is one of the very few plants that act as an adaptogen. Understanding this is the key to understanding why it has such special supportive properties. Adaptogens help the body to balance stress and maintain equilibrium. Which is just astounding if you stop to think about it.

These adaptogenic properties come from unique plant compounds that support and nourish particular pathways through the brain and the endocrine system

Energy boosting properties

Maca powder is often hailed for its energy-boosting properties. And thanks to its adaptogenic properties it does this without acting as a stimulant. By supporting the adrenal glands, it helps to enhance overall energy, stamina, and endurance. It is also packed with B vitamins, which are essential for the body’s energy production process. Iron is also necessary for enhancing physical stamina and reducing fatigue as it aids in red blood cell production, transporting oxygen throughout the body.

More than just a physical energy booster, maca is also believed to improve mental energy, resulting in increased focus, clearer cognitive functions, and an overall uplift in mood. Thus, the inclusion of maca powder in your daily diet can provide a natural energy lift, supporting both physical and mental vitality.

Hormonal Balance

Maca’s unique ability to promote hormonal balance is of immense significance as hormones regulate just about everything that goes on in the body.

By nourishing the pituitary gland, maca root powder helps to facilitate balance within the entire endocrine system. This leads to increased regulation of hormones, enhanced fertility, improved mood, stabilization of menstrual cycles, and reduction of menopausal symptoms in women. For men, maca can help balance testosterone levels, contribute to prostate health, and boost libido. Therefore, adding maca to your regular diet can be a natural and holistic approach to maintaining hormonal balance.

Enhance memory and learning

Maca powder is thought to be a potent memory and learning enhancer. Its high antioxidant content assists in combating oxidative stress, which may be a significant contributor to neurodegenerative diseases. Studies have shown that the flavonoids present in maca are linked to improved cognitive functions, including memory and learning.

Mood enhancer

The mood-enhancing properties of maca root may be down to a cumulation of its many properties, rather than a single source. The endocrine system has a huge role to play in regulating mood. When in balance, it can better manage stress, leading to improved overall emotional health. When we have more energy, we instantly feel more alive. A body that functions is a joy to be in, rather than a sluggish system that drags us down and holds us back.

How to Use Maca Powder

Adding maca powder to your diet is quite simple and can be done in several different ways. The flavour of maca works best with creamy bases. Nuts and seeds work well, and fruits such as dates and bananas.

  1. Smoothies: Blend 1-2 teaspoons of maca powder into your favourite smoothie recipes.
  2. Baking: Add to your baked goods for a nutritious boost. Use it in bread, muffins, cookies or pancakes, substituting a portion of the flour with a small amount of maca powder.
  3. Porridge or Cereal: You can stir in a teaspoon into your morning porridge or cereal.
  4. Tea or Coffee: Add a teaspoon of powder to your tea or coffee.

Start with a small amount (1/2 to 1 teaspoon) and gradually increase to up to a tablespoon per day over a few weeks, as per your requirements. If you are pregnant or have a medical condition, please consult with your healthcare provider before adding Maca Powder to your diet.

Try our organic maca powder.

Precautions and possible side effects of consuming maca powder

While maca is generally considered safe for most people, it’s important to take certain precautions when incorporating it into your diet. If you have a history of thyroid problems, you should proceed with caution. It may be suitable for those with an underactive thyroid but should be avoided by those with an overactive thyroid due to its iodine content. Due to its effect on hormones, pregnant or breastfeeding women should consult with their healthcare provider before using maca.

In terms of side effects, some individuals may experience digestive issues, such as bloating and gas, especially when first introducing maca into their diet. It’s also worth noting that due to its energizing effects, maca may make it harder for some people to fall asleep if consumed later in the day.

As we mentioned earlier it is recommended to start with a small quantity and gradually increase the intake.

As we have seen, maca powder certainly seems to hold great potential for bolstering health and promoting overall well-being. Its impressive nutritional profile, inclusive of vitamins, minerals, and essential amino acids, equips it with the ability to boost energy, enhance stamina, and promote mental clarity. Something we are all looking for, right? A versatile superfood that can be used in so many ways, it couldn’t be easier to boost the nutritional value of your food.

Enjoyed this article? Read more about how you can harness the potential power of superfoods in your diet.

Not entirely clear on the role superfoods can play in your achieving your nutritional goals? Then perhaps begin with this detailed guide to superfoods.

 

Explore our range of versatile store cupboard superfoods today.


This article was reproduced on this site with permission from operafoods.com.au the “Home delivery suppliers of Superfoods for Granola & Acai Bowls”.
See original article:- Maca Powder: The Superfood You Need in Your Diet

Superfood Seeds are Super Healthy

superfood seeds

Superfood seeds may be small but they are certainly mighty and their importance in a healthy diet should not be overlooked. Not only highly nutritious, healthy seeds are exceptionally versatile and can bring extra interest to almost any food you can think of. Lets take a look at just why seeds are so nutritious, and then explore some popular varieties in detail.

The benefits of healthy seeds

Seeds contain everything needed to grow a entire plant. For this reason they are highly concentrated sources of nutrition. Although each variety of seed has its own particular nutritional strength, they do all fit into a general profile.

  1. Seeds are good sources of (often complete) protein.
  2. Seeds are full of fibre, both soluble and insoluble.
  3. Seeds are good sources of healthy fats and essential fatty acids, particularly omega 3.
  4. Seeds are good sources of protective antioxidants
  5. Seeds have an excellent mineral profile
  6. Seeds are packed with healthy vitamins such as B and E vitamins.

As part of a healthy balanced diet seeds can help you to maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of heart disease, and help to regulate blood sugar levels.

Eat as wide a variety of healthy seeds as possible in order to maximise their nutritional benefits.

Take a look at our detailed guide to superfoods for more information on boosting your nutritional health with powerful foods.

What superfood seeds should I include in my healthy diet?

Chia seeds

These tiny little seeds are the kings of the super seed world. They are packed with omega-3 which can help lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. Full of fibre, both soluble and insoluble, they are great for stabilising blood sugar levels as well as maintaining digestive health. Chia also has an impressive mineral profile, particularly calcium and magnesium, and comes with a good supply of antioxidant plant chemicals too.

But chia’s super power is it’s ability to absorb up to 8 times their weight in water. Not only does this help to keep us fuller for longer, but involves some truly amazing properties too. Mucilage is only found in a comparatively few plants (okra is one of them which explains why it can be slimy) and it helps them to retain water. So not only is chia a great thickening agent but the mucilage itself is a really beneficial form of soluble fibre that supports the health of our digestive tract. Leave the seeds to soak in water for around 15 minutes and the seeds swell, surrounding themselves with a jelly like layer.

Chia has a neutral flavour that means it goes well with just about anything. Add the seeds to a smoothie for a super thick shake (you will need to leave it to stand so the seeds can work their magic) or mix with cocoa and yoghurt for a chia chocolate pudding (again, you will need to leave it aside to thicken). Even without making use of their gelling properties, chia seeds are  great simply sprinkled over porridge or cereal for a little extra crunch.

Our black chia seeds are 100% certified organic

Hemp seeds

Hemp seeds are know for their perfect balance of omega-3, -6, and -9 essential fatty acids. They are also a source of complete protein, containing all of the essential amino acids. This is just one of the reasons that they are valued so highly as a plant based protein powder.

Hemp seeds are one of the few seeds that make a successful ‘seed milk’. Blitzed together with water they blend to a smooth liquid with creamy qualities that can be used in the same way as any plant milk.

An excellent source of fibre, hemp seeds also contain phytosterols (plant hormones) that can help promote hormonal balance. So they are an excellent food for PMS and menopausal symptoms.

Note that you won’t be able to sprout hemp seeds as they are sold deactivated.

Give your nutrition a boost with our hulled organic hemp seeds

Flax seeds

Flax seeds, also known as linseeds, are another of the major superfood seeds. Also known best for its balance of omega -3, -6, and -9, flax is possibly of most value in its ability to balance hormone levels, which is why you will find it in food products marketed for women. It does this through a particular group of antioxidant phytochemicals known as lignans.

Linseeds are a good source of protein, a well as both soluble and insoluble fibre. Like chia, flax is mucilaginous and therefore makes a great binder or thickener. This also makes it useful as a vegan egg substitute in baking. It does need to be ground in order to release its nutrients.

As well as helpful in balancing hormones, flax is also a rich source of vitamin E which is vital for healthy skin; something that can be problematic when hormones are out of whack. So a nice example of natures symmetry right there. The soluble fibre helps to lower LDL cholesterol levels and triglycerides in the blood as well as balance blood sugar levels.

Like most seeds, flax has a mild nutty flavour that becomes more pronounced when toasted.

Easy to use organic ground flaxseeds

Sesame seeds

Sesame seeds may not have the nutritional superpowers of some of the other seeds, but they do have some special qualities of their own. The plant hormones sesamin and sesamolin are shown to protect the liver from toxins and help to lower blood pressure. They are also a great source of vitamin E as well as very high in calcium. Sesame is also rich in a variety of minerals including zinc, magnesium, iron, phosphorus and selenium.

There is little nutritional difference between black and white sesame seeds and both are an excellent addition to your arsenal of ingredients. Both benefit from being slightly toasted in a dry frying pan, but be careful to watch them as they turn from toasty to burnt in a matter of milliseconds.

Try these black sesame seeds

Pumpkin seeds

This is another seed that is lower down in the superfood status stakes yet is still an excellent source of nutrients and is of great culinary value. What pumpkin seeds may lack in superfood credentials (compared to say chia, or hemp) they more than make up for in texture, taste and flavour.

If linseeds can be considered as the women’s super seed, then pumpkin seeds might just be the seed for men. High in zinc, they are thought to be good for male fertility and the prevention of prostate problems. They are also a good source of magnesium and, like most seeds, are full of protein, fibre, and essential fatty acids.

Snack on our organically grown pumpkin seeds

Have you tried our organic LSA mix of linseeds, sunflower seeds and almond, with added probiotics? It is a great source of super convenient superfoods!

Explore our range of healthy seeds within the superfood section of our site.


This article was reproduced on this site with permission from operafoods.com.au the “Superfoods wholesalers”.
See original article:- Superfood Seeds are Super Healthy

 

How to Make your own Chocolate from Cacao Powder

homemade sugar free chocolate

Making your own chocolate from cacao may seem a little extreme, yet there are several compelling reasons to do so. The good news is that it is far easier than you might think, and whilst it may not quite match up to the shop-bought stuff it is still pretty good.

Why Make Homemade Chocolate?

For many of us (maybe most of us) chocolate is non-negotiable. A life without chocolate is simply unfathomable. Yet chocolate is widely available, so why go to the trouble of making your own, especially when the results may not be as silky smooth as the real deal?

The main reason for wanting to make your own chocolate is most likely the sugar content of the commercial stuff. Even dark chocolate contains sugar, which if you are on a completely sugar-free diet is a bit of a problem. Vegan chocolate is becoming more and more widely available, but sugar free?

And then there are all the other things that find their way into chocolate. The list of ingredients just seems to get longer and longer. It just makes sense to try and find a way to get your chocolate fix closer to home.

Different Types of Homemade Chocolate

Homemade chocolate all follows pretty much along the same lines, but your reasons for making it in the first place will dictate your eventual recipe. Most homemade chocolate recipes still contain sugar, albeit in a somewhat more natural form such as honey. If you want to go completely sugar free then the only way forward is to include milk powder. This tames the bitterness of the cocoa to a palatable degree. Anyone who says they like 100% raw chocolate with no sugar and no milk is possibly lying. If only to themselves.

Or you can keep the sugar, and omit the milk powder. Like we said; you can’t really do both. You could of course, try adding sugar AND milk powder.

Making Milk Chocolate from Cacao Powder

For us, the whole point was to be completely sugar free. With sugar, wheat, and all food additives off the menu it was a case of ‘well if you want to eat this thing, then you will have to make it yourself’.

We discovered the buffering effect of milk on the bitterness of cacao completely by accident. Our first sugar free chocolate fix was simply hot cocoa made with cacao and milk. Which was surprisingly good. Then, adding a spoonful or two of cacao to rice pudding made without sugar resulted in a creamy, deeply chocolatey, almost ganache like affair.

The only natural conclusion to this was ‘can we make milk chocolate with no sugar?’. The answer turned out to be yes.

How to Make your own Chocolate

Whilst you do not need any particularly special kit for making chocolate, there are a few items that you cannot do without. The first is a probe thermometer. These are really inexpensive and come in handy in all sorts of ways in the kitchen. You can make chocolate without one, but for the best results you need to follow as professional procedure as possible.

A stick blender. Commercial and professional bean to bar chocolatiers put their chocolate through a really fine grinder. The best way to approximate this is to use a handheld blender during the cooling process. Your chocolate will not be as silky smooth as the stuff you buy, but it will be closer than if you did not blend it at all.

Culinary grade cocoa butter. This usually comes as buttons, that look like large white chocolate buttons.

Some ground spices help balance the bitterness. Vanilla powder, ground cinnamon, and ground cardamom.

Chocolate moulds, although not necessary, do give you a nicer finish. We used plain bar silicone moulds.

The rest is simply a bowl over a saucepan of water, a silicone spatula, and plenty of patience. If you don’t use moulds, then you will need a baking tray and some baking parchment/greaseproof paper.

And of course, cacao powder.

Basic Recipe for Homemade Chocolate (sugar-free)

Whilst not exactly milk chocolate, this does contain full fat milk powder instead of sugar.

250g cocoa butter

60g raw cacao powder

60g FULL FAT milk POWDER

1 tsp vanilla powder

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground cardamom

  1. Measure out all of your ingredients, and make sure your working space is clear of clutter.
  2. Set out 6 chocolate moulds on a baking sheet, or place a generous sheet of baking parchment on a baking tray. Make sure you have space to put the tray into the fridge, on a level surface.
  3. Have your stick blender plugged in and ready to go, and the digital thermometer ready.
  4. Wear an apron!
  5. Find a suitably sized mixing bowl and a saucepan that it will sit snugly over. You need enough water to cover the bottom of the pan, but not touch the bottom of the bowl.
  6. Sit this over a low heat and bring the water to a gentle simmer.
  7. Add your cocoa butter to the bowl and slowly melt it to 40C. You may want to take it off the heat when it reaches about 35C and let the rest melt in the residual heat. Once melted, you want that cocoa butter at 40C – 45C.
  8. Remove the bowl from the pan, and place on a stable surface where you are comfortable standing. This process while take a while.
  9. Add the rest of your ingredients and stir to combine.
  10. Now, you are going to cool that mixture down to 28C. It could take 30 minutes so you really need to be patient.
  11. Use the stick blender for as long as you can during this process. It can be noisy, and the motor can get hot, so alternate bursts of blending with bursts of stirring with the wooden spatula. You can get away with brief periods of not stirring, but it is the cooling and the stirring that creates the tempering of the chocolate.
  12. Once you reach 28C, pour the liquid chocolate into the moulds or onto the baking tray.
  13. Transfer to the fridge to set.
  14. The chocolate will set quite quickly, but keep it in the fridge for a few hours. You will find that the texture changes over time, and also depending where you store it.
  15. Either store the bars as they are, or break up your sheet of chocolate. Keep it in an airtight container in the fridge or in the cupboard. You may want to experiment with both, to see what works best for you and your kitchen.

Tweaking your chocolate recipe

Once you have made your first batch of chocolate you are ready to evaluate how it went. A grainy texture cannot be avoided, but hopefully with the blender and the proper tempering process it was kept to a minimum.

How did you find the taste? Was it too bitter? Did the milk powder bring in a softer taste? Do you think you would rather add a little sweetness?

Homemade Vegan Dark Chocolate

Following exactly the same procedure above you can make a darker, yet sweeter, dairy-free version. Simply omit the milk powder, and replace the cacao with 125g of our organic drinking cacao, which is made with pure organic cacao and organic coconut sugar.

Have you explored our range of superfoods for boosting your smoothies, shakes and healthy snacks?

 


This article was reproduced on this site with permission from operafoods.com.au the “Healthy ingredients Suppliers”.
See original article:- How to Make your own Chocolate from Cacao Powder

Vegetable Powder – Going Beyond Greens

vegetable powder

Vegetable powder is often overlooked in the search for superfood supplements, yet is a valuable addition to your superfood store cupboard. In the nutrition stakes, greens powder generally gets all the glory. Yet, whilst it may be true that green leafy veg are some of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet, the overall goal of nutrition is one of variety, and vegetable powder has a lot of good things to offer.

The power of veggie powder

Veggie powders are an excellent way to boost the nutrient content of your diet, especially if this is one area in which your diet is lacking. Despite increased nutritional knowledge, and the increase of interest in all things plant-based, many people do not get enough vegetables in their daily diet.

Vegetable powder is made of dehydrated vegetables that have been ground to a fine powder. They have a much longer shelf life than fresh produce, and retain their nutrient value for longer too. They take up less space and are also easy and convenient to use. Not only do they make a great addition to smoothies, but are also an excellent way of sneaking extra vegetable goodness into your cooking. Add to soups and stews, dips and dressings, or even cakes and breads.

Other than our popular greens powders we have two kinds of vegetable powder; beetroot, and carrot.

Nutrients in Greens

Green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, and even broccoli, all share a basic nutritional profile although each does have it’s own special brand of magic.

These plants are all rich in the life essence chlorophyll and abundant in minerals; especially calcium, iron and sulphur. They are also excellent sources of vitamins C, and K, and are chock-full of anti inflammatory antioxidants.

Greens support bone health, provide major antioxidant support, help to lower cholesterol, and have anti-cancer properties.

Nutrients in Carrots

Carrots are well known for their starring role in promoting eye health. Rich in beta-carotene, as well as antioxidant lycopene and lutein, they help us to maintain good eyesight. But there is more to carrots than eye health.

High in the insoluble fibre pectin, that is also abundant in apples. It helps to regulate blood sugar levels by slowing down digestion and decreasing the uptake of sugars. It also decreases the absorption of cholesterol so is effective in helping to lower total cholesterol levels.

A good source of the mineral potassium, which is essential for the fluid balance within cells, carrots can also help to regulate blood pressure.

Carrots also contain silicon, for healthy skin and nails.

Nutrients in Beetroot

Beetroot contains a unique group of antioxidants known as betacyanins. Responsible for their deep purple colour, these protective pigments offer support to the liver, help to improve circulation, and purify the blood. Not just an old wives tale!

Along with iron, that feeds the red blood cells with oxygen, the antioxidants in beetroot detoxify the liver and purify the blood by promoting excretion of toxins.

Also rich in potassium, beetroot is highly effective at lowering blood pressure.

More Benefits of Vegetable Powders

Carrot powder and beetroot powder have another advantage over greens powder. They add sweetness. Not sugar-rush sweetness, but the sweet taste that is often needed to round out flavours and make food more palatable. Green smoothies aside, a spoonful of carrot powder will round out any residual bitterness in a tomato sauce way better than a pinch or two of sugar. Mix beetroot powder into cacao powder to add sweetness without sugar or sweeteners. This blend has tons of uses, but try dusting it over popcorn. It’s great!

Have you explored our range of store cupboard superfoods? Available to buy in bulk online now! Boost Nutrients vegetable powders are all made from 100% organic Australian grown produce.


This article was reproduced on this site with permission from Opera Foods the “Vegetable Powder Suppliers”.
See original article:- Vegetable Powder – Going Beyond Greens

What Does Protein Powder Do?

a scoop of protein powder

Protein powders are a nutritional supplement, once only favoured by bodybuilders and gym goers. But what does protein powder actually do? And why do so many people now include it as part of their daily regime?

Types of protein powder

Traditionally, protein powders were made from animal sources. They were made either from components of cows milk (whey or casein) or from egg white derivatives. Both of which are excellent sources of complete protein. Before they were taken up by the bodybuilding community, they would have been (and still are) widely used in hospital and healthcare settings as a nutritional supplement for those unable to eat, or that needed an extra boost.

Later arrivals on the scene were the plant-based protein powders. Also sources of complete protein, these are derived from plants such as peas, or hemp.

Why take protein powder?

Why take protein powder? Surely we can get protein from the food we eat?

For a start, protein powder can be pretty handy. It has a long shelf life, mixes into an easy to drink shake, and is fairly portable. It can also be added to cooking and baking for a bit of a protein boost.

But why would we need a protein boost in the first place?

Protein in the body

Most of us are well aware that the body needs protein. A vital component of bone, muscle, and skin, protein is crucial to all our life processes at the cellular level. Without the amino acids that are the building blocks of protein we can barely survive; let alone thrive.

There are 9 amino acids that we need to intake from food. Foods that contain all nine amino acids are known as complete proteins. Most animal sources of protein are complete, and we once believed that without these foods that our diet was somehow lacking. We now understand that we can obtain our full quota of amino acids from a range of food sources; including plants.

How much protein do we need?

Roughly speaking, between 10 to 35% of your calories should come from protein, depending on your level of activity. For the average diet of 2000kcal a day this is somewhere between 50 and 175g protein. The average, fairly sedentary adult generally aims for about 50g; a goal that is easily achievable on a diet that includes animal proteins. A bit of milk, an egg, plus a portion of fish or meat and you are pretty much there. On a plant based diet, still aiming for 50g, that looks like a cup of lentils, a cup of quinoa and several large handfuls of nuts. Also fairly doable.

But what if you need to aim higher? Long story short, it is a lot easier to maximise your protein intake with an animal based diet than it is with a plant based one. And what about those all essential amino acids? You need a really varied range of plant proteins to ensure an adequate intake.

In all likelihood, the surge in popularity of protein powders has come with increased interest (and uptake) of a plant-based diet.

Protein in plants

All plants contain protein in varying amounts, even the ones we don’t think of as protein foods. Yet only a handful are sources of complete protein; most are missing an amino acid or two. So not only is the challenge to get enough grams of protein, but also to get an adequate supply of all nine amino acids.

For many people this is not an issue an at all, and with a wide range of plant foods they cover these needs easily. But not everyone.

Why you might need to boost your protein on a plant based diet

  1. For active gym goers, to aid recovery and repair muscle fibre
  2. To replenish energy levels on the go
  3. To help stave off hunger and promote weight loss
  4. When you aren’t eating proper meals

Plant based protein powder

Plant based protein powder offers an efficient form of protein delivery. A single scoop offers about 25g of protein, with all nine essential amino acids. Blended up into a shake, with water or a non-dairy milk, it is possibly the simplest way to meet your protein needs.

The two most common types are made from isolated pea protein or hemp seed. Both are sources of complete protein, yet hemp has a whole host of extra nutritional benefits to offer.

Take a look at our hugely popular organic hemp protein powder.

Superfood powders are a convenient way to harness the exceptional nutritional power of superfoods. Discover just how superfood powders can help you to reach your nutritional goals, or if you need a nutrition primer our in depth article on superfoods has got you covered.

Take a look at our entire range of superfoods, available to buy online in bulk now, or head straight to our protein powders.


This article was reproduced on this site with permission from operafoods.com.au the “Superfoods Wholesales”.
See original article:- What Does Protein Powder Do?

Our top 10 superfoods list for your pantry

superfoods list

There are certain foods that top the superfoods list time and time again. And, whilst there is officially no such thing as a superfood, it cannot be denied that some foods certainly hold more weight than others in the nutrient density department.

A varied diet including plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables is the best way to maintain nutritional health, yet this can often be more an ideal than an actuality. Luckily many of the top superfoods already have dry goods status, and many others are available in powder form for easy and economical pantry storage.

Here’s our top 10 superfoods list for your pantry (in no particular order).

Acai

Antioxidant boosting acai has long been known as a beneficial beauty food. Chock full of anti-ageing vitamins and minerals, particularly Vitamin E, Beta Carotene, calcium and phosphorus, acai appears on most of the superfoods lists for skin. One of the only fruits to offer essential fatty acids, the sugars in acai are absorbed more slowly than with most fruits.

Acai is rich in antioxidant anthocyanins, known as the the beauty antioxidant for their power to boost flow to all the organs (including the skin).

Try our organic acai powder

Cacao

One of the best dietary sources of magnesium, cacao is rich in the minerals iron, zinc, and sulphur. One of the richest sources of antioxidants, this fibre rich seed is full of heart healthy flavonoids. Boasting an impressive array of amino acids, phytochemicals, and small amounts of caffeine, cacao is also the ideal energy booster.

Try our organic cacao powder

Maca

One of the most powerful foods in nature, maca contains almost 60 phytochemicals alone. A good source of amino acids, fatty acids, and fibre, it is particularly rich in minerals potassium, calcium and phosphorus. Maca is an excellent source of plant sterols that can help to lower cholesterol levels.

But the true magic of maca lies in its power as an adaptogen. These rare properties allow maca to support adrenal function, restore hormonal balance, and regulate and reduce stress. A source of non-stimulating energy, we think maca really deserves its place on the superfoods list.

Try our organic maca powder

Berries

Not to be underestimated, berries are the most nutrient dense of all the fruits. Full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, each variety of berry has its own nutritional benefits. Raspberries are particularly rich in Vitamin A, calcium, magnesium and iron. Blueberries are a good source of potassium, whilst strawberries are rich in manganese. All of them are great sources of Vitamin C.

Try our Australian mixed berry fruit powder

Flax seed

Flaxseed, also known as linseed, is one of the best plant sources of omega 3 fatty acids. Good for reducing inflammation and an excellent source of fibre, the mucus forming properties of linseed help to control insulin, stabilise blood sugar and reduce appetite. Linseeds contain lignans, a particular form of plant estrogens that make them particularly important for women’s health as they can help to maintain bone health and protect against certain female cancers. An excellent source of Vitamin D and E.

Try our organic Australian flaxseed

Goji

Goji berries have been a longevity food in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. A complete source of protein, with all the essential amino acids, they are an excellent source of fibre. Rich in antioxidants, beta carotene, and Vitamin C, goji berries are also a good source of iron. Like maca, goji berries are also adaptogens; a rare nutritional benefit.

Try our goji berry fruit powder

Leafy greens

Despite their humble status, dark leafy greens are some of the best examples of nutrient density. Full of antioxidant benefits, greens are rich with the minerals calcium and iron, as well as vitamins A, C, and E. They also boast high levels of life giving chlorophyll.

Try our organic kale vegetable powder

Hemp seed

One of the first plants to be cultivated by man, and still one of the most eco-friendly crops, hemp offers a complete source of protein, providing all the essential amino acids. One of the best plant sources of fatty acids, hemp is a rich source of GLA (gamma linoleic acid). A type of omega-6, GLA has shown to reduce inflammation and lower cholesterol. Hemp is also rich in the minerals magnesium, iron, zinc and potassium, as well as a good source of fibre and Vitamin E.

Try our hulled organic hemp seeds

Oats

Oats, despite not always being suitable for the gluten sensitive, have some amazing nutritional properties. Rich in the soluble fibre beta-glucan, they are one of the best foods for lowering LDL cholesterol. Soluble fibre also helps to prevent insulin spikes. Oats are also a rich source of magnesium that can help to regulate insulin levels.

Oats also contain a natural sedative that can help to treat anxiety, depression and insomnia.

Try our jumbo oats organic 5 grain porridge mix

Green Tea

Green tea contains many beneficial plant compounds. Full of antioxidant polyphenols, it is a particularly potent source of a cathechin called EGCG; a powerful anti inflammatory that can help fight diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even help to slow cognitive decline. The high chlorophyll content of green tea is both anti-ageing and detoxifying, whilst the natural energy boosting properties of caffeine are tempered by relaxing l-theanine for a more sustainable buzz.

Try our supreme organic matcha powder

 

Read our in depth primer on nutrition and superfoods. Or head straight over to explore our range of superfoods.


This article was reproduced on this site with permission from operafoods.com.au the “Superfoods Warehouse”.
See original article:- Our top 10 superfoods list for your pantry

A Guide to Superfood Powders

superfood powder

Superfood powders are an easy way to enhance the nutrient power of your diet and their scope goes way beyond just super greens. Fruit powder, vegetable powder, protein powder (and yes, greens powder) can all help you maximise your intake of superfood nutrients. In this article we explore the subject of superfood powders and look at some of these in more detail.

Before we begin, why not read our article on superfoods and nutrition first? It is a great nutrition primer and introduction to superfoods.

What is superfood powder?

Superfood powders are nutritionally dense foods, most often fruits and vegetables, that have been dehydrated and ground to a fine powder. Convenient, easy to use, and with a longer shelf life than fresh produce, they are an easy way to increase your nutrient intake.

Boost Nutrients superfood powders are made from high quality fruits, roots, leaves and seeds that, where possible, are organic and sourced from within Australia. We support minimal intervention, pesticide-free farming and try to reflect this in our products as much as we can.

Some superfood powders are blended, and are often targeted at specific concerns. They contain a range of different ingredients and provide an overall spectrum of nutrients. Some may ‘boost vitality’ whilst others are designed to ‘strengthen your immunity’. They may, not always, contain smaller amounts of the most expensive ingredients.

Here at Boost Nutrients we make pure superfood powders, made of a single ingredient, that gives you ultimate control. Each powder, fruit or vegetable, is a superfood in its own right, with its own unique nutrient profile. They range from the exotic, like maca root powder, to the down right boring, like kale. Sorry, kale.

How are superfood powders made?

Our powders are not freeze dried. Despite what a superficial search on the internet may tell you, current understanding actually shows that there are better ways to preserve nutrients in dehydrated fruit and vegetables. We make our superfood powders with a totally different technology, that retains a higher percentage of nutrients, flavour, aroma, and colour. The resulting powders form a crystalline structure that is also more easily dissolved for maximum efficiency. This process is called low temperature continuous evaporation. A low heat method of vacuum drying, it is considered to be ‘the ideal method for drying oxygen sensitive materials, such as fruits and vegetables’.

Is superfood powder good for you?

Superfood powders are a great addition to you diet, especially if it is lacking in fresh produce such as fruit and vegetables.

As we have seen, fresh produce deteriorates rapidly whilst powdered fruits and vegetables are processed as close to harvesting as possible. They are already ahead of the game when it comes to retention of vital nutrients.

The nutrient profile of a single ingredient powder is the same as the fruit from which it is made. As with whole produce, the best way to experience a wide range of benefits is to broaden your food choices and incorporate as much variety as possible in your daily diet. Mix it up!

One thing most superfood powders have in common is high levels of antioxidants.

Do superfood powders contain fibre?

The fibre present in fruits and vegetables is still there in powder form as the only thing that has been removed is the water. It has been broken down, so you do lose the mechanical benefits of fibre on digestion, but other than that the fibre remains.

Soluble fibre is often a contributor to superfood status, so produce that is high in insoluble fibre (such as the pectin in raspberries) will retain all of its nutritional benefit.

How to use superfood powder

Can you mix superfood powders?

Our pure, single ingredient, superfood powders are easy to mix together to come up with fresh tasting ideas or specific combinations of nutrients. Just be sure to stay within the individual dehydration guidelines for each specific powder. It is pretty impossible to overdose on fruits and vegetables but a little goes a long way.

How to make superfood powder taste good.

Many superfood powders taste great already. Fruits such as mango, or berries, taste pretty much the same as they do when fresh. Vegetable smoothies, especially green smoothies, can take a bit of getting used to even when made using fresh produce. Using a powder doesn’t change that, so you may need to get a little creative.

How much superfood powder in a smoothie?

It all depends whether you want to simply boost a smoothie that has been made with fresh produce, or reconstitute a larger amount of powder in order to substitute the fresh produce. Amounts vary depending on the powder in question so it is best to go by the individual guidelines.

Does superfood powder expire?

As a food product, all superfood powders will have a best before date. Whilst they don’t expire exactly, they will slowly degrade over time and their nutrient content will diminish, especially once opened. That said, they will be good for several months at least, just take care to reseal it well once open as the powders will absorb moisture and be exposed to oxidation.

On the flip side, fresh produce begins to lose its nutrient value the moment it is harvested. Even before it begins to break down and become inedible it has lost a good percentage of its vitamin and mineral content. A banana in the fruit bowl will probably last a week, max.

Fruit powders

The difference between fruit powders and fresh fruit

Although fruit powders retain many of their nutrients they have a very different composition to fresh fruit. Nothing can replace the sensation of biting into a ripe peach and juice dripping down your chin, or the scent of the seasons first strawberries. There are many reasons for enjoying food, and not all of them are nutritional.

But fruit powders do have certain advantages. They have a longer shelf life, for more convenience and less waste. They are also easy to prepare and exceptionally versatile.

What can you do with fruit powder?

  1. sprinkle on porridge
  2. mix into milk or yoghurt
  3. add to your homemade granola mix
  4. stir into your baking (including frosting)
  5. stir into ice cream
  6. mix into spice blends and dry rubs
  7. add to your herbal tea blends
  8. stir into salad dressing (mango is great)

and of course…smoothies!

Explore our range of fruit powders

Vegetable powders

Are powdered vegetables as good as fresh?

In the same way that there needs to be a place in the diet for whole fresh fruit, fresh vegetables should be making up a huge percentage of your daily meals. Yet, other than their shelf life and versatility, vegetable powders (especially greens) do have one huge advantage; many, many people quite literally will not eat their greens. Most people enjoy fruit as it is sweet, but there a lot of people that miss out on the nutrients that vegetables offer. It is all too easy to tell people to focus their meals around vegetables, but what if they don’t? Given a choice between beetroot powder baked into a chocolate muffin or no beetroot at all, we know which we would choose.

How to use vegetable powder

  1. sprinkle over popcorn
  2. add to soups, stews, curries and sauces
  3. add to salad dressing
  4. mix into your muffin and bread mixes (even cake)
  5. stir into dips
  6. create savoury spice blends
  7. stir into rice
  8. add to scrambled eggs and omelettes

Explore our range of vegetable powders

Greens powders

Greens powders come under the same category as vegetable powders but they deserve a special mention. Greens are the holy grail of the vegetable world, and quite often the one group of produce that we could all do with more of. Eating a bowl of berries is easy, or even a plate of carrot sticks, but working your way through a big plate of greens is another story entirely.

Many commercial greens powders are blends of highly nutritious green foods. Seaweed and algae are top of the ingredients list. A little goes a very long way, which is a good job as they generally taste vile.

Boost Nutrients greens powders are single ingredient powders made from good old Australian-grown greens. You can use them anywhere in your cooking that you might add a handful of greens, and in foods that maybe you wouldn’t. Throw them in a curry sauce, or a soup, or to make your fresh pasta dough green.

Don’t forget, matcha is a powerful green superfood powder too!

Protein powders

Protein powders are slightly different from superfood powders in that they are designed to provide little other than additional protein. Some foods are considered superfoods because of their levels of protein, or the amino acids they provide, but these are more likely to be part of a broad spectrum superfood powder than a protein powder.

However, protein powders are a valuable addition to the nutritional supplement arsenal. We do make protein powders (both dairy and vegan) but will not go into further detail in this particular article.

Why not explore our range of superfoods, and even save by buying in bulk today.


This article was reproduced on this site with permission from operafoods.com.au the “Superfoods powders suppliers”.
See original article:- A Guide to Superfood Powders

What are superfoods?

what are superfoods

Whilst there is no standard definition, it is generally accepted that superfoods are foods that are particularly nutrient dense. But what are superfoods, exactly? And which foods qualify?

In this introduction to superfoods we put things into perspective with some nutrition basics before taking a closer look at the foods that make the superfood list.

 

 

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

What is nutrient density?
All about nutrients
What are macronutrients?
Why are amino acids important?
What are fatty acids?
Slow release carbohydrates
Why do we need fibre?
What are micronutrients?
What are vitamins?
Minerals in food
What are phytochemicals?
What are antioxidants?
Can nutrient density be measured?
The Superfoods List
Superfood vegetables
Superfood fruits
Superfood grains
Super seeds
Superfood powder

So, what is nutrient density?

Nutrient density is a term used to describe the amount of nutritional value a food can offer in relation to its calorific load. In other words, nutrient dense foods offer maximum nutrition for minimal calories. Berries are a good example. The flip side is the concept of empty calories; foods that offer little nutritional value beyond the calories they provide. A spoonful of table sugar for example.

The importance of nutrient dense foods

Nutrient dense foods are important for a number of reasons. Food may be our source of vital fuel, as any carbo-loading athlete will tell you, but man cannot live on mere calories alone. Quite the opposite in fact. We quite literally are what we eat, and the human body requires a wide range of nutrients to thrive.

Anyone who has ever struggled with their weight will tell you just how easy it is to consume too many calories, and the amount of food needed each day to maintain a healthy weight is surprisingly small. We don’t believe that anything should be off limits (food is, after all, so much more than just nutrition) but it does make sense to include in your diet many nutrient dense foods. Think of it like paying your insurance premiums.

Can nutrient density be measured?

The ‘aggregate nutrient density index’, or ANDI for short, ranks foods based on their nutrient density ratio, on a scale of 1 (least nutrient dense) to 1000 (most nutrient dense). It is based on a simple mathematical equation based on nutrient value divided by calories.

Se we can see, at a glance, that kale receives a top score of 1000. And yes, kale is indeed considered to be one of the most nutrient packed foods on the planet. We can also see that white bread receives a score of 9, and cola receives a score of 1. Also pretty fair.

Yet the ANDI system is a measure of micronutrient density. It fails to take into account the nutritional components of the macronutrients. This means that although it can give us insight into foods that offer the most micronutrients per calorie, it fails to recognise the inherent qualities of some foods that we might still class as a ‘superfood’.

Defining superfoods

It is true that foods from the top end of the list, which is dominated by vegetables and a few berries, come packed with more micronutrients and plant nutrients than those further down. Yet olive oil, packed with nutritional benefits including plant compounds, is considered only one point better than the empty calories of white bread. Avocados, almonds, bananas, and walnuts all receive a comparatively low score, yet each of these foods has a slew of nutritional benefits to offer.

This is why it is so important to eat a wide range of foods AND equally important to put calories into the context of their vital macronutrients.

Maybe a better description of superfoods would be ‘foods that are especially rich in nutrients that have been shown to have positive effects on human health’.

Also, perhaps now would be a good time for a nutrition primer. Understanding the food that you eat, and how it works in the body, will allow you to make your own decisions and reach your own conclusions about your personal nutrition choices and how you might define ‘superfoods’.

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All about nutrients

Nutrient. Now, that CAN be defined. A nutrient is “a substance that provides nourishment essential for the maintenance of life and for growth”. Almost all of our nourishment comes from food. Essential nutrients are those that the body cannot make itself. We can, for example, synthesize Vitamin D from sunlight but we need food and water to provide us with the rest.

There are six major nutrients; carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals, plus water. With the exception of water, which belongs in a class of its own, these are further grouped into macronutrients and micronutrients. Both of these are vital to the concept of nutrient density and superfoods, although superfoods do, by definition, involve a high volume of micronutrients. Don’t dismiss the importance of the macronutrients though. Not only do they provide the energy we require to live, in the form of calories, but they have some pretty important qualities of their own too.

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What are macronutrients?

Macronutrients provide, amongst other things, fuel for the body. They give us energy, measured as calories, that the body uses (or not) as required. They are known as the ‘macros’ because we need them in larger amounts. The macronutrients are protein, fat, and carbohydrate.

All foods are made up of a combination of the three, in varying ratios, but we classify them according to what they provide the most of. Grains, for example, contain a little fat and a little protein yet are classified as carbohydrate foods as this is what they are primarily composed of. It is fairly obvious that meat is made of protein and fat, but without the small amount of carbohydrate in its composition it would never brown on the outside during cooking.

Essentially, carbohydrates provide the major fuel source for the body to burn. Protein and fat also provide fuel, which the body can burn, but they play an equally vital role in growth and repair. Although we measure them in terms of the calories they provide, the macronutrients each have their own superpower.

Let’s begin with protein.

Protein is made up of chains of molecules called amino acids. When we eat protein, our body breaks down the chains into their component amino acids.

Why are amino acids important?

Our body uses these amino acids to build proteins of its own. Just as they make up the proteins we eat, they also make up the proteins that the human body is made of. Skin, hair, tissues, and even cells (right down to our DNA) are made of proteins, that are made of amino acids.

There are 20 amino acids essential to our health. Nine of these are classed as essential. As the body cannot make these itself, we must get them from food.

What are fatty acids?

Fatty acids are the building blocks of fats, which are referred to chemically as lipids. They join together in chain like structures, which the body breaks down during digestion. The composition of these chains determines whether the fats are saturated, mono-unsaturated, or poly-unsaturated. As we saw with the macros, most foods that we class as fats or oils are composed of all three types of fatty acids, with one type dominant. Saturated fats are by their very nature more solid than the more fluid poly/mono fats that we tend to identify as oils.

Essential fatty acids

As with amino acids, the body can make some of the fatty acids it needs but those that it cannot manufacture must come from the diet. These are the groups known as omega-3 and omega-6.

Both groups are polyunsaturated fats, and within these groups are hundreds of different fatty acids. The ratio between these two groups is important, yet we often consume way too much omega-6 in comparison to omega-3. This is widely considered to contribute to inflammation.

Omega-3 is a component of our cell membranes and plays a vital part in heart and brain health, as well as metabolism. The aim should be to increase omega-3 intake, rather than decrease omega-6.

That is not to say that omega-6 fatty acids are not beneficial. GLA (gamma-linoleic acid) for example may have anti-inflammatory properties, whilst CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) is thought to play a role in reducing body fat. Don’t forget though that the focus should be on the diet as a whole, not on individual nutrients.

Beneficial fatty acids

Another group of fatty acids is omega-9. Although the body can make omega-9 fats itself, it can be beneficial to get it from the diet too.

Slow release carbohydrates

Carbohydrate is the body’s main source of fuel. Whilst we can metabolise fats and proteins for energy, the most efficient route is the breakdown of carbohydrate to glucose. Put very simply, the closer the foods are to glucose, the quicker the glucose hits the bloodstream. Simple carbohydrates, such as table sugar, are really easy to break down into glucose. Complex carbohydrates are much harder to break down, and as such take longer.

Carbohydrates are sugar, starch and fibre. Of these, sugar is the most simple. Starches are more complex and fibre is largely indigestible. Complex carbohydrates are usually whole plant-based foods that contain starch and fibre together.  Wholegrains, for example, or an apple.

Fibre is found in the cell walls of plants and is generally not metabolised by the body. Some fibre, known as soluble fibre, is partly digestible. Oats are a good source of soluble fibre, as are apples.

Why do we need fibre?

Indigestible fibre  (aka insoluble fibre), what we used to call ‘roughage’, is broken down by chewing. Other than that, it passes through the digestive system intact. Insoluble fibre aids ‘peristalsis’, which is the muscle contraction of the bowel that moves food through the system. It is essential for a healthy gut. Fibre also slows down the digestion so that glucose is taken up more slowly, and steadily. Hence, slow release carbohydrates. This is essential for improved blood sugar control.

Soluble fibre dissolves in water. It creates a gel that also slows down digestion. As well as helping to regulate blood sugar levels, soluble fibre is thought to help reduce cholesterol.

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What are micronutrients?

The whole concept of superfoods revolves around micronutrients. But for now, lets examine what these mean in terms of nutrition, and our health and wellbeing.

Micronutrients are the powerful substances that we need in much smaller amounts than the macronutrients, yet are equally essential to life. The body uses micronutrients in the cellular processes that are essential to proper growth and development. It would be impossible for the body to manufacture compounds such as hormones, enzymes, and neurotransmitters, without the essential micronutrients.

The essential micronutrients are grouped into vitamins, and minerals. Each plays a specific role in the maintenance of health. Deficiency will display as ill health and disease, not all of which will display obvious symptoms.

A balanced healthy diet should provide all the vitamins and minerals we need. However, modern food production, along with our increasingly toxic environment, has led to food sources with depleted nutrients as well as increased intake requirements. Superfoods are a great way to boost intake and ensure optimum levels of key nutrients.

What are vitamins?

Vitamins are organic compounds produced by plants and animals. There are 13 vitamins essential to human health and we get all of them from food, although the body can manufacture some of them to a certain extent.

The fat soluble vitamins A,D,E, K are stored in fatty tissues within the body. We need dietary fat in able to absorb them via our intestines.

The water soluble vitamins C and B are not stored in the body and leave via the urine. A regular supply of water soluble vitamins is required.

Minerals in food

Minerals are inorganic elements that come from the land and water on which plants and animals grow.

The macro-minerals are those we need most of, whilst the trace minerals are those we need in smaller amounts.

What are phytochemicals?

Phytochemicals are the bio-active compounds found in plants that are not essential nutrients for humans yet are increasingly shown to be beneficial to our health.

Each plant can contain hundreds of different phytochemicals, also known as phytonutrients or plant micronutrients, in varying combinations. These powerful plant compounds, of which we have identified well over a thousand, give colour and flavour to the vast range of fruits and vegetables that we eat as food. Which is why the soundest nutritional advice is to eat as broad a range of foods as possible. Plants, especially.

The importance of phytonutrients

Phytonutrients can support our health in ways we are only just beginning to understand. Indigenous peoples have understood the connection between plants and health for thousands of years, but technology has given us greater means to analyse, catalogue, and classify our findings.

Understanding phytonutrients goes a long way to explaining the importance of 5-a-day, although we now understand that 5-a-day is more of a bare minimum than a goal to reach for. This just serves to underline the importance of plants in the diet, with a very simple message. Eat as many fruit and vegetables as you can.

What are antioxidants?

Antioxidant compounds are found in varying levels in almost all plants. The term antioxidant means ‘against oxidation’ and describes a particular function of a nutrient, not a specific group of nutrients. Vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, can all have antioxidant properties that fight against harmful oxidation in the body. The antioxidant powers in a particular plant may come from one antioxidant compound, or they may come from many.

The ORAC scale

Levels of antioxidants in foods are measured in ORAC units, which stands for ‘oxygen radical absorbance capacity’. Current guidance suggests a daily intake of at least 5,000 ORAC units daily.

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The Superfoods List

It may come as no surprise that most foods designated the title of superfoods are plants. We may have stressed the importance of all nutrients, and the belief that a healthy diet is a balanced diet, yet the power of plant nutrients cannot be denied. Plants truly are natures medicine.

Superfood vegetables

When it comes to nutrient density, kale and spinach are right at the top of the scale. Green leafy veg are considered to be some of our healthiest foods and are absolutely packed full of phytonutrients. Exceptional sources of chlorophyll, the green life force of plants, both spinach and kale help strengthen bones, fight inflammation and support heart health.

But it isn’t just about green vegetables. The advice to ‘eat a rainbow’ is more than just a marketing slogan. Beneficial phytochemicals are often the very same compounds that give plants their colour. The deeper the colour, the higher the concentration of these pigments.

Carrots, with their deep orange colour, are packed with compounds that support eye health and good vision. Carrots are one of the best sources of beta carotenes. The precursor to vitamin A, these pigments are also powerful antioxidants.

It is hard to imagine a more deeply coloured vegetable than beetroot. The intense pink colour of red beetroot is due to a unique group of antioxidants known as betacyanins. They support liver health, improve circulation, and purify the blood. Beetroot is also thought to strengthen the heart and help with blood sugar control.

Superfood fruits

Berries are widely considered to be the most potent of all fruits. In terms of antioxidants alone, 100g of raspberries provides the recommended daily intake as measured by the ORAC scale. They also contain compounds that are thought to stimulate the metabolism and regulate blood sugar levels. Strawberries are also full of antioxidants, and have a specific compound known as ellagic acid that is thought to have anti-cancer properties. Blueberries also exhibit anti-cancer properties, and some studies have shown promising results in the field of memory and the prevention of cognitive decline. Go, berries!

There are some berries that we are more familiar with in their dried form. Goji berries are a balanced source of protein, fat, and carbohydrate with a huge complement of vitamins and minerals. Acai berries have been at the top of the superfood charts for years now. Not something found in its fresh form outside of its native South America, acai usually comes as a freeze-dried powder. It has over 20 times the antioxidant power of raspberries and is also one of very few fatty fruits that contains high levels of essential fatty acids. Acai also has a great unique flavour.

Superfood grains

Cereal grains have many nutrient qualities, that are often overlooked. Of all the grains, oats are the one that we truly think of as a superfood. Oats are an important part of a healthy breakfast cereal, so why not start here, with our article on what makes a healthy breakfast.

Super seeds

Seeds contain all the life force of the plant that they will grow to become, and as such as full of nutrients. Flaxseed is one of the best seeds for essential fatty acids, and a power source of vitamin E. Full of fibre, flaxseed has compounds that are thought to help with hormonal balance.

Hemp seed is fast becoming a superstar of the superfood world. One of the best protein sources on the planet, with a full quota of essential amino acids, hemp is packed full of omega-3s and hormone balancing GLA. It has a strong mineral profile too.

Chia has gained a reputation as a bonafide superfood, with super high levels of healthy fats, fibre and antioxidants. It is a great non-dairy source of calcium and a meat-free source of iron. It doesn’t matter what colour you choose as they all come with a similar nutritional profile.

Did you know that cacao is from the seeds of the cacao tree? It is a true super seed. Cacao has almost as many antioxidants as acai, alongside off the chart levels of magnesium. You can read more about cacao right here.

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Superfood powder

It is not always easy to prioritise a healthy diet packed full of fresh fruits and vegetables. Time is the most cited obstacle of reaching our healthy goals. There’s the meal planning, the shopping, the carrying, the unpacking…and that’s before you begin chopping it all up and preparing your meal.

Superfood powders are an ideal way to boost your nutrient intake. All the hard work has been done been for, so all you have to do is incorporate them into your smoothies, snacks and shakes. Even your meals.

Greens powders are a great way to add the power of greens to your smoothies, without compromising on taste, yet they can also be stirred into soups and sauces for an extra boost.

Fruit powders make light work of shakes and smoothies, as you can mix them straight into milk or water without all the fuss of chopping it. We often buy fruit with good intentions only to let it fester in the fruit bowl, so fruit powders are an ideal store cupboard staple that won’t go to waste.

 

Why not explore our range of store cupboard superfoods and see how you can boost your nutrient intake today.


This article was reproduced on this site with permission from operafoods.com.au the “Acai Bowl and Smoothie ingredient Suppliers”.
See original article:- What are Superfoods

Is cocoa powder gluten free?

is cocoa powder gluten free

If you are simply avoiding gluten, then discovering that some ingredients may contain trace amounts of gluten is not such a major thing. But if you have coeliac disease, or are cooking for someone who does, then you need all the knowledge that you can get.

The most recent food to be called into question for its gluten content is cocoa powder.

So, is cocoa powder gluten-free?

When it comes to gluten, some foods are more obvious than others. We all know that most baked goods, traditionally made with wheat flour, are a no-no. Then there are the stumbling blocks, where we just aren’t quite sure. Like the gluten content of oats, for example…

Yet most often it is the hidden perils of food processing that are to blame. Cross contamination of gluten is a big issue, as is the use of gluten containing foods as fillers and flavorings. The use of gluten in lollies is a prime example.

Basically, the further you get down the processing chain, the more likely it is you will find added (or even hidden) gluten in your food.

Does chocolate contain gluten?

The most processed form of cacao is chocolate. And let’s face it, the reason that we choose to add cocoa powder to our food is to make it taste of chocolate. We may not want the additional fats, sugar, dairy or even gluten, but we do want that glorious chocolate hit.

There are degrees of processing in chocolate, from the small-batch artisanal bars to the mass-produced big brands. Some, made with the fewest ingredients in a certified free-from-contamination zone, may be gluten-free. These are the high quality chocolates made from cocoa liquor, cocoa butter, and sugar, with perhaps added milk or cream. Whilst likely to be gluten-free, particularly on the ingredient front, it is a sad fact that the smallest artisan producers are the least likely to have the financial resources required to invest in gluten-free certification.

Mass produced commercial chocolate is more likely to include gluten-containing ingredients. Powdered milk, soy lecithin, and even vanilla extract are all known to have been contaminated with gluten.

Is soy lecithin in chocolate gluten-free?

Soy lecithin itself does not contain gluten. But it may contain residues used in processing, or even additives that do. And these may not be on the label. Used as an emulsifier, lecithin helps to bind and hold the ingredients in chocolate together for a smooth mouthfeel.

Many coeliacs report sensitivity issues with soy lecithin, whether through gluten contamination or other related issues.

Is cacao gluten-free?

Cocoa powder has long been thought to be a safer option for coeliacs than chocolate, as it should contain one ingredient only. Cacao. Essentially, cocoa powder (and cacao powder) is cocoa liquor with the cocoa butter removed. Cacao nibs are crushed cocoa beans, with the cocoa butter content left intact. We explore the differences between cacao vs cocoa in this article.

Most gluten-free organisations recognise cocoa powder as a gluten-free ingredient, and advise as such. However cross contamination can occur, and most products (unless certified gluten-free) will carry a disclaimer as such. Cocoa powder is a different thing to drinking chocolate, or hot chocolate powder. Once fairly benign, these products are now highly likely to contain gluten in the form of thickeners and fillers.

Raw cacoa, in the form of cacao nibs or cacao powder, is the least processed cacao product of them all. Not all brands will be certified free from gluten contamination, but it is the closest to the natural cacoa bean that you will get.

 

Explore our range of superfoods and buy all your smoothie ingredients direct online.

 


This article was reproduced on this site with permission from operafoods.com.au the “Online Asian Wholesale Grocer”.
See original article:- Is cocoa powder gluten free?