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Tuesday September 30th 2014

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Superfoods to the Rescue

And Where to Find Them Locally
By Jennie McKeon

It’s a berry, it’s kale, no, it’s superfoods!

Among the many health-related buzzwords that get spread through the media, you might have heard or read about superfoods. What is a superfood, and what makes them so super?

“Superfoods is the big ‘buzz’ these days,” said Jennifer Duerr, Baptist Hospital Dietician. “A superfood by definition is a food that is rich in various nutrients, offers many health benefits and may prevent disease and keep immunity high.”

Just a Few Superfoods

The list of superfoods is long. You don’t have to venture to the grocery store every time you need a superfood fix. Most foods that are found in nature like leafy vegetable such as kale and spinach, which are antioxidant, vitamin C and A rich and low in calories, are quite super.

“There are many foods that can fall into this category and if you check out different superfoods lists, there are an overwhelming number of foods that are ‘super’ for your health,” Duerr said.

Jennifer Dutton, education director at Ever’man, took notice of the fast-growing trend and made a health note for shoppers about the benefits of superfoods available at the store, including which department you will find them.

“Superfoods can play a supporting role in a healthy diet—boasting high amounts of antioxidants and other vital nutrients,” she wrote. “Antioxidants are special nutrients that prevent and repair oxidation’s damaging effects. Beta-carotene, vitamins A, C and E and the minerals zinc and selenium are the best-known of the antioxidant nutrients.”

At Ever’man, you can find açaí, goji, beans and legumes, the ever-delicious sounding wheatgrass, coconut oil and quinoa.

Starting with açaí, the tasty berry is packed with antioxidants, amino acids and essential fatty acids, which keep cell membranes flexible. The açaí berry tastes like a cross between a blueberry and dark chocolate, and it’s pretty, too. The rich purple pigment tells you it has a high antioxidant level. The other berry, goji, holds what Dutton calls “nutritional treasures.” The berry is high in antioxidants and amino acids and is available in juice or berry form.

Beans, Dutton noted, are the ultimate superfood. They’re inexpensive, filling and are a staple for vegetarians and vegans, as well as gluten-sensitive folks.

Unlike the visual appeal of the açaí berry, wheatgrass is high in chlorophyll, which is why it looks like something you should mow not ingest. But it does do wonders for your health by cleansing the lymph system, producing blood, removing toxic minerals from cells and it even prevents hair from going grey. You can buy wheatgrass in a powder, capsule or frozen.

“Our Ever’deli serves raw shots of wheatgrass, which can be ingested in its pure form or added to a variety of fruit smoothies,” Dutton said. “We have a very popular smoothie called the Grasshopper. It’s made with organic wheatgrass, apple juice and bananas. It’s awesome.”

Coconut oil has been getting buzz thanks to rumors that celebrities such as Madonna and Demi Moore drink it by the gallon. Shape magazine gives coconut oil a rave review saying the medium-chain triglycerides found in the oil are metabolized differently, meaning it can help with weight loss. Coconut oil also aids in boosting your immune system, can raise good cholesterol and helps control sugar levels. You can also use it topically to keep hair and skin healthy.

At Ever’man you can get coconut water, coffee creamers, milk alternatives, wraps, butter and vinegar.

Quinoa is a superior grain, having the highest protein content, which contains all nine essential amino acids. If that’s not enough, it’s also high in magnesium, manganese iron, copper, phosphorous and vitamin B2.

Duerr pointed out a few other foods such as salmon and sweet potatoes.

“Salmon is an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acid—good for heart health and also an anti-inflammatory—and protein,” she said. “Sweet potatoes are high in potassium, fiber and beta carotene.”

Dutton also said to add flaxseed, oats, prunes, alternative milk—rice, almond, soy or hemp—kale, garlic, olive oil, pomegranate and nutritional yeast to your grocery list for complete balance.

One Stop Superfood Shop

Because of trends like buying natural and/or organic foods, you can find healthy options in many stores.

“The industry has been growing fast in the past five years,” said Dutton. “Everyone has jumped on the organic/natural foods bandwagon. I mean, even gas stations carry soy milk.”

For the harder-to-find items and everything in-between, you can always fill your grocery cart with healthy foods at Ever’man.

“I’d like to think of Ever’man as a Superfood Mecca,” said Dutton. “In fact, to this day, we only carry unprocessed, natural foods.”

Most of the time, the co-op had the trendy foods before they were trendy. They stocked organic and natural foods before you consciously looked for such items. However, every now and then an Ever’man employee gets stumped.

“We’re closely connected to the natural food industry, so we usually find out about a ‘trendy’ product before it’s available in conventional stores,” Dutton said. “However, every once in a while we do scramble when a customer comes in looking for a product recommended by Dr. Oz.”

According to his show’s website, Dr. Oz has five superfood recommendations that “help you look younger—and can even turn back the clock.” Those five are: pumpkin seeds, which lowers blood pressure and reduces risks for heart attack or stroke; eggs, which contain iron, biotin and B12 will strengthen hair and combat anemia; pomegranate, which contains ellagic acid and punic alagin in the seeds that fight damage from free radicals and preserve collagen in the skin; oatmeal, which contain soluble fiber which reduces bad cholesterol and black currants, which can promote night vision through compound anthocyanosides and act as an immunity booster by providing five times the amount of vitamin C as an orange.

It was Dr. Oz’s endorsement of golden berries, which are supposed to melt belly fat that caused Ever’man employees to scramble. It became the store’s mission to find those berries.

“We immediately had customers coming in to find them,” Dutton said. “It took us a couple of weeks to locate a preservative free golden berry—which you can now find on the cereal aisle.”

Some may view superfood lists as a way to skip dieting and carb-counting. By following simple guidelines, you can greatly improve how you look and feel. Can this be the lazy person’s diet?

“I believe it can be,” said Duerr. “It would encourage more plant-based foods and wholesome foods with minimal processing. Minimally processed foods will be free of preservatives, less or no sodium and would have fewer ingredients.”

Being healthy isn’t always easy. As Dutton points out, you still have to prepare your superfood meal.

“A lot of the food we recommend has to be prepared completely from scratch,” she said. “It takes time to cook your own beans and rice. It’s not easy to make your own superfood, wholegrain bread. It takes time to cut up fruits and make complex superfood salads.”

Of course, you could just skip cooking and head to the Ever’deli.

EVER’MAN
WHERE: 315 W. Garden St.
OPEN: Monday-Saturday 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
DETAILS: 438-0402 or everman.org

JENNIFER DUERR, DIETICIAN
WHERE: Baptist Hospital, 1000 W. Moreno St.
DETAILS: 434-4080 or ebaptisthealthcare.org

——————————————————————

Super Recipes

The Ever’deli was kind enough to lend a few recipes using superfoods. Keep in mind, the recipes are for large quantities. Don’t get too comfortable at home—the deli is always cooking up something new, so check back for more dishes.

Mango and Black Bean Salad
Ingredients:
5 cups cooked black beans (can use drained and rinsed canned beans)
5 cups cooked white beans (can be drained and rinsed canned beans)
1 cup pickled red onions
2 cups caramelized corn
2 mangos, peeled and diced small
1 cup red bell pepper, diced
2 jalapeno peppers, diced
1 bunch cilantro, fresh washed, chopped
6 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon garlic, minced

Prepare pickled red onions: combine 1 cup red onions sliced thin with 1/4 cup lime juice, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon minced lime zest. Let sit for 30 minutes.
Prepare caramelized corn: add 2 tablespoons sucanat (sugar) to 2 cups corn kernels. Sauté corn sugar mix in 1/4 cup olive oil until corn is deep brown and golden. Remove from heat, reserve. Combine all ingredients.

Aztec Quinoa Salad
Ingredients:
8 cups rinsed quinoa
8 cups water
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 bag thawed frozen corn
8 cucumbers chopped
Dressing Ingredients:
1 cup lime juice
3 tablespoons chili flakes
3 tablespoons salt
2 bunches cilantro
1 cup olive oil
1 cup water

In a large hotel pan, mix the rinsed quinoa and 8 cups of water. Steam for 35 to 40 minutes. Cool. Prepare dressing. Combine cooled quinoa, vegetables and dressing.

Where to Find
Sometimes you choose superfoods without even noticing it. Here are just a few, local places that sell super tasty superfoods.
Olive Oil – The Bodacious Olive has an extensive list of olive oils including an organic option. bodaciousolive.com or 433-6505.
Salmon – Joe Patti’s Seafood is a no brainer when you ask locals where to buy fish. joepattis.com or 432-3315.
Berries – When you frequent your local frozen yogurt bar, like 32° or Beach Berry Yogurt at the Maritime Park, stock up on berries of all kinds. Blueberries are a staple at froyo bars.
Quinoa – Check into The Leisure Club for brunch and select quinoa as part of your morning meal. facebook.com/theleisureclub or 912-4229.