Before I started taking care of my body, nourishing myself with whole foods and including various superfood staples in my diet, my immunity was running pretty low. I knew to expect to get sick with every change of season, and that every winter to anticipate coming down with the latest bug floating around. Low and behold, I would get sick a lot. Not only would I get sick but I remember walking around in a low-energy haze when flu season came around. I would have to take time off school and work to allow myself to heal, while I’d fill up on easy, quick-and-not-so-good-for-you staples like canned chicken noodle soup to make me feel better and of course, these foods only ending up making me feel worse in the long run.
I slowly started adding more and more fresh and local fruits and vegetables into my life and relying less on processed foods to make me feel better. I then began experimenting with certain foods – some that I loved and some not so much. I share with you here some of my top superfoods that, when eaten with a balanced, fruit and veggie-filled diet, can have great, positive effects on your health and wellbeing. After journeying to a much healthier place in life, I have learned to fill up on whole, seasonal foods that leave me feeling vibrant and energized throughout the year and ready to take on Winter – flu season or otherwise - with my immunity running high!
My Top 5 Superfoods:
Chlorella is a seriously underrated food. A small amount of this green algae packs a great, condensed nutritional punch! Sold in both powder and pill supplement forms, Chlorella, gram per gram, contains twice the amount of protein than spinach. It is rich in iron, B vitamins, contains all of the essential amino acids and is packed with many other beneficial vitamins and minerals! Research suggests that Chlorella can help to both prevent and fight disease – research from Japan shows that these mighty green algae help fight against disease by regulating body weight, blood sugar and blood pressure. Chlorella is rich in chlorophyll and as a result, acts as a detoxifier by naturally removing toxins found in the digestive tract.
Spirulina is another nutrient-packed algae to work into your day to day life! This blue-green algae is very high in protein and contains all the essential amino acids. Spirulina is rich in B vitamins, Vitamin K, naturally high in iodine and other minerals such as calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. Spirulina has around the same amount of calcium and magnesium as milk and more B12 and iron than red meat. Research suggests that Spirulina has many health benefits including boosting the overall immune system as well as aiding in heart, liver and brain health.
3. Chia seeds
Chia seeds are magical little seeds that are easily digested whole and swell up when mixed with liquid. High in protein (and containing all the essential amino acids), fibre, healthy fats, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals these strong little seeds can have a great impact on your health! These seeds contain more calcium than milk and more antioxidants than blueberries! Chia seeds are most well known for being high in both Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids which are essential to one’s overall heart, brain, organ and emotional health. Due to their high levels of potassium and other various nutrients, minerals and antioxidants they are an instant energy and immune booster!
Try this chia recipe from Niamh or add them to your porridge for a warming breakfast.
4. Cacao powder
Chocolate is a superfood? Well, kind of. Cacao powder, not cocoa powder (which is the roasted and processed cousin of cacao powder found in supermarkets around the world) is basically raw chocolate. That’s right, cacao is cocoa in its raw and natural nutrient-rich form. Raw cacao powder has many health benefits. It is one of the most iron-rich foods in the world, high in calcium, magnesium and is a high source of antioxidants. Cocoa powder allegedly contains more than 40 times the amount of antioxidants than blueberries, more calcium than milk and triple the amount of iron in red meat. The natural chemicals in cacao are said to improve one’s mood, aid in heart health, protect against toxins and alleviate immunity which is probably why we all love to reach for that piece of chocolate once in a while.
5. A variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables
The most super foods are also the most simple. Stocking and filling up on a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables any time of year does the body good. Search for local and organic produce when possible. If you are not able to get your hands on organic produce make sure to rinse your fruits and veggies with a water and lemon/vinegar mixture to remove any lingering pesticides. Seeking out produce that is rich in Vitamin C is always a good idea before and during flu season in order to boost immunity. Clementines are my personal favourite around this time of year! They are in season, full of Vitamin C and other nutrients - making the perfect and simple immune boosting snack!
These Superfoods pack a great nutritional punch and act as great immune boosters before and during the flu season. The following recipe is one of my favourite nourishing and energizing smoothies this time of year. Flu season beware!
Immune Boosting Chlorella Clementine Smoothie
This simple and refreshing smoothie makes the perfect immune boosting and energizing breakfast or snack. Packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants it is the perfect nourishing smoothie to immune boost yourself through winter!
- 2 ripe bananas (make sure they have lots of brown spots, they are most easily digested when they are very ripe)
- ½ - 1 cup almond milk*
- 5 - 6 clementines, peeled
- 1 heaping tsp chlorella powder*
- 1-2 drops pure vanilla extract (optional)
- 1 tbsp Spirulina powder* (optional)
Blend the bananas, clementines, almond milk (1/2 cup) and optional vanilla extract in blender until creamy and smooth. Add additional almond milk by the tablespoon depending on the desired thickness of the smoothie.
If you are not a pulp fan, feel free to strain the blended smoothie through a fine mesh sieve before drinking.
Garnish with clementines and enjoy!
You can substitute almond milk with the preferred milk of choice for a nut-free version.
Substitute Spirulina for the chlorella or add it in as an extra for an additional nutritional punch!