This month, we are going to expand our knowledge and usage of new foods.
Throughout March, my blogs will be centered on broadening your everyday food routines and exploring some new ideas for your meal plan.
First up: expanding your healthy fats! Healthy fats are an important part of my program and have their own space on my Power Plate Formula™ for mealtime success.
Healthy fats protect our organs, fuel our brain, and are a great source of satiety in our diet. If we remove fat from our diet, we have a hard time feeling full and satisfied by our meals.
Removing fat from your diet creates a void in your meals that must be filled with something – and that something is typically excessive carbohydrates and/or sugar. The fat free craze of the ‘80s was a great example of this; it marked the onset of fat-free, high fructose corn syrup-sweetened desserts and snacks.
So, without further ado, the two new whole foods we will explore today are chia seeds and chocolate.
That’s right! Chocolate is a healthy fat.
The chia seed (salvia hispanica) is originally from Mexico and is highly valued for its energy-boosting and endurance powers. It is a healthy source of fat, soluble fiber, zinc, and calcium, along with vitamins A, B, E, and D. You can find chia seeds in snack and nutrition bars, yogurts, drinks, and puddings at most natural food stores nowadays.
The slimy substance that a chia seed excretes is great for our gut health and supports probiotic activity in the gut.
Though chia has grown in popularity over the last five years, you might still be in the dark about how to use it. Here are several uses for this mighty little seed:
For all of these suggestions, let the chia sit in water for about 30 minutes before eating so that it can work its magic. Soaking the seed for a brief time allows the slimy stuff to come out, and that slimy stuff is the medicinal part of the plant, which helps you digest the seed better.
- Place 1 Tbsp. of chia seed in low-sugar yogurt.
- Place 1 Tbsp. of chia seed in your morning smoothie.
- Place 1 Tbsp. of chia seed in your pancake mix.
- Make Chia Seed Pudding (Google it for a million great recipes).
- Place 1 Tbsp. of chia seed in your oatmeal.
Next up: dark chocolate!
Did you know that dark chocolate is considered a superfood – a food that helps protect our bodies from free radicals, which cause disease? Eating chocolate is great for you… as long as you are doing it the right way!
The “right” way to eat chocolate is with as little sugar as possible and as dark as possible.
This will ensure that you are getting the most medicinal benefits cacao offers. Cacao is just the word used for the purest, rawest form of chocolate.
Here are a few guidelines when buying chocolate/cacao:
- Purchase 70% dark chocolate or a higher percentage.
- Purchase the one with the least amount of sugar to ensure the highest antioxidant level possible.
- Organic and fair-trade chocolate is best! Conventionally grown cacao is one of the highest pesticide-using crops out there, along with coffee.
After you purchase the highest-grade cacao you can get your hands on, here are some ways you can use it, aside from just eating a chocolate bar.
- Add 100% cacao powder to a smoothie.
- Add cacao nibs (unsweetened, fermented, dried, and roasted cacao bean pieces) to your homemade granola or trail mix.
- For a superfood overload, combine chia seeds, coconut milk, and cacao powder to make a fantastic, antioxidant-packed pudding.