The Fit Foodie, otherwise known as Sally O’Neil, is on a mission to prove that healthy and nutritious doesn’t have to be boring – and that even while staying in shape you can have your cake and eat it too! After losing over 30 pounds from cutting out processed foods she began to record her recipes online. Her blog that soon followed as a result quickly became a hit! Sally is now the author of Chocolate Everyday and owner of a popular range of vegan and fructose-free DIY Protein Balls. You will definitely feel motivated after reading about the benefits that these superfoods have! While these delicious additions to your diet have many health benefits, it is important to remember that a balanced diet including a wide range of foods is the key to good health. Check out what she has to say below:
The list of superfoods is constantly growing and are even starting to make regular appearances on cafe menus across Australia. So what are they, and why should we eat them? It refers to foods which are nutrient dense, making them great additions to our diet. Packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and essential fatty acids, these foods may help to prevent disease, improve digestion, lower blood pressure and build immunity, amongst a range of other health benefits. Some of the most popular ones are detailed below along with their health properties.
Acai has become famous for it’s powerful antioxidant properties. This purple berry packs a nutritional punch, with it’s ORAC level (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) over 3,500, which is hundreds of times higher than other fruits such apples and bananas. These antioxidants help to combat harmful free radicals in the body, which can lead to premature ageing and liver damage. Acai also contains more grams of protein than an egg, and when combined with their host of fatty acids, this super berry has been shown to improve the look and texture of hair, skin and nails. Look out for: Freeze-dried Acai Powder, available in most pharmacies, healed stores and some supermarkets.
How to eat it: Blend 1 frozen banana and 2 teaspoons of acai powder along with 1/2 cup of your milk of choice. Serve in a bowl and top with oatmeal and sliced strawberries for a delicious kick-start to the day that will kick sweet cravings to the curb.
Kale has been heralded the king of greens. It is low in calorie, high in fiber and has zero fat. Amongst the many vitamins and minerals it contains, Kale is particularly high in vitamin K, which can help protect against a wide variety of cancers, including breast an ovarian. Per calorie kale contains more iron than beef, which is excellent news for cell growth, good liver function and more. Look out for: Curly or Tuscan Kale at your local farmers market or in the vegetable isle or your supermarket. Leaves should be dark green and firm, with crisp stems.
How to eat it: Remove the bitter stems and wash the leaves thoroughly. Massage in olive oil and lemon juice, then add to salads or sauté in a hot pan for a few minutes.
Often referred to as a ‘supergrain’, quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is actually a seed. High in protein and fiber, quinoa is great for keeping you full for long periods – perfect for those looking to lose weight. It’s also low GI, so it won’t spike your blood sugar levels like some other starchy carbohydrates. Although it’s not technically a grain, it still counts as a “whole grain” food and is naturally gluten free. Simple to prepare, it can be enjoyed in both sweet and savoury dishes and has a mild, nutty flavour. Look out for: Red, black or white quinoa. You can find it next to other grains in health-food stores or supermarkets.
How to use it: Rinse well under cold water and strain. Add two parts water to one part quinoa, and heat over a stove until boiling. Reduce the heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes, then cover and rest for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and enjoy anywhere you would normally eat rice or couscous.
These tiny seeds are a great source of healthy omega-3 fats, protein and fiber. They are also charged with antioxidants that fight the production of free radicals. One serving of chia seeds contains 18 percent of the recommended daily intake of calcium, which contributes to maintaining bone and oral health. With a very mild flavor, chia seeds are simple to include in your diet and can be sprinkled on most meals to increase the nutrient value. Look out for: Black or white chia seeds, available from supermarkets and health-food aisles. You may also find them added to packaged cereals and breakfast bars.
How to use them: Chia seeds can absorb up to 12 times their weight in water, creating a pudding-like consistency. Mix 1/4 cup chia seeds into 1 cup of milk (any variety), and add 1 tsp of honey or rice malt syrup. Leave for 1 hour to thicken, then stir and serve with fresh fruit and a handful of raw almonds.
Cacao is the raw form of the more commonly recognised ingredient, cocoa. Cacao is a top source of antioxidants and it contains an abundance of magnesium and iron. To produce cacao powder, the finest cacao beans are milled at very low temperatures. It’s a healthy alternative to conventional over-processed “cocoa” because all the nutrients remain intact. Look out for: Cacao nibs (natural cacao beans broken into small pieces) or cacao powder (ground beans) and opt for organic where possible. The powder is more readily available and can be found in supermarkets and health-food stores. Nibs are available online and in some health-food stores, and they offer a great replacement for chocolate chips in baking.
How to use it: Use in place of traditional cocoa powder in any recipe. You can also add it to smoothies or in health home-made hot chocolate. For a delicious chocolate mousse, try blending the flesh of 1 avocado with 1 banana, 4 tablespoons of cacao powder and 2 tablespoons of honey or rice malt syrup. Add a pinch of salt and leave to set in the refrigerator for at least one hour before enjoying.
There’s no denying that everyone is going loco for coconut oil. No longer considered to be an artery-clogging fat, we now know coconut oil is actually amazing for our bodies. Coconut oil is metabolised differently to traditional saturated fats thanks to it’s medium-chain saturated fatty acids (MCFAs) and can have positive effects in enhancing the absorption of minerals and amino acids (protein) of other foods. Evidence suggests that this unique oil can boost metabolism and improve immunity, whilst improving energy levels and assisting with weight management. Look out for: Organic extra-virgin coconut oil. Available online and in health stores, as well as major supermarkets.
How to use it: Coconut oil can be used in place of other fats such as sunflower and rice bran oil. It has a high smoke point, so it is great for cooking at high temperatures (think stir fries and quick sautés) without losing nutritional value. Use coconut oil in place of butter in baking for a nutritional boost. It can also be applied topically as a fantastic moisturiser for both hair and skin!
Fit Foodie: Sally O’Neil // Instagram