Monday, August 15, 2016

Cooking with Maca and Spirulina: Tips and Tricks

When you first heard the word "superfoods," you might imagine some healthy food - like fruit or sweet potato - wearing a cape and saving eaters from disease and indigestion. As fun as that may sound, Merriam-Webster reports that superfoods are actually just foods that provide higher health benefits than the average PB&J. Some are more common, like fruits and veggies...

...but others? Let me just saw that you might get used to googling pronunciations (like for acai and quinoa). Considering that the number of superfood products has grown 202% since 2011, I thought I should share  two of my favorite and how to use them. Here's everything you need to know about cooking with maca powder and spirulina! 

casey the college celiac

Before you start whipping out your apron and mixing bowls, here's a short breakdown of what these are and why you should eat them. 

As Dr. Axe explains, maca powder originates from the maca root, which is a member of the cruciferous family (think broccoli or cauliflower). Maca powder is best know for helping balance hormones and increase fertility. Other benefits include increasing energy, immune function, memory, focus and stress management.

It also boasts over twenty amino acids (including eight complete ones), high levels of calcium, magnesium and potassium, a hefty dose of plant-based protein...and maca seems to act as "happiness" drug by boosting people's moods. 

casey the college celiac
Warning: may also incite funny faces.
What about maca's green companion? According to Live Science, spirulina is actually a type of blue-green algae. One fun fact: besides being sold as a supplement, the FDA also allows companies to use spirulina as a dye in gums, candy and other products. Spirulina is composed 60 to 70% of protein and offers high amounts of calcium, niacin, potassium, magnesium and iron

Spirulina is also considered plentiful in antioxidants and many believe that it helps treat health issues ranging from diabetes and high cholesterol to anxiety and depression. Studies have also shown that spirulina can help shrink cancerous oral tumors from smoking and increase exercise performance and recovery

casey the college celiac
Same goes for spirulina!
Now the fun part: how to incorporate these superfoods into your diet and blow your taste buds away at the same time! Especially if you have a sweet tooth, this is the post for you

First off, my favorite meal of the day...and my favorite version of it: the breakfast smoothie bowl. As I've shared before, spirulina adds a brilliant green (or slightly blue, depending on the brand you buy) color to nana ice cream. Feel free to check out the recipes I've already posted, but you can add spirulina to any of your favorite smoothies. Just be sure to add less than a teaspoon at a time; otherwise, you'll get an algae-like taste! 

Maca powder has become a staple in my smoothies because it adds a little extra sweetness to my breakfast. I also love that it can give me an energy boost in the morning! You can also give your smoothie a superfood kick in the form of a "magic shell." Simply combine a tablespoon of melted coconut oil with a sprinkle of maca or spirulina powder. Pour over your cold smoothie, place in the freezer for a few minutes and wala - a green (or white) magic shell

casey the college celiac
All the smoothies and oats...
You can also sneak superfoods into warm recipes, like my oatless oatmeal or granola. (To enjoy the most superfood benefits, try to add the maca or spirulina as late as possible so they cook the least). When it comes to oatmeal, maca works especially well when mixed with cinnamon, cacao powder and a little nutmeg. Spirulina is a more daring choice, but you'll enjoy everyone else's confused faces at your green breakfast! To keep the color but elevate the flavor, try adding a dose of vanilla extract, mashed banana and blueberries

As for granola, if you're trying to create a "pick-me-up" afternoon snack, maca powder is the new must-have ingredient. It blends with most pre-existing recipes and a little goes a long way. If you want to experiment with spirulina, granola is a good choice because the algae-like flavor will be hidden by other add-ins, such as chocolate chips, cinnamon or banana. If you want to preserve maca's or spirulina's benefits the best, you can sprinkle them on your granola after it bakes! 
These superfoods can also make pancakes for dinner an extra healthy choice! When people first try superfoods, they often stick to adding them to smoothies, yogurt or pudding. Don't forget to give your baked goods a superfood twist! In particular, I love packing some greens into my pancakes by adding a little spirulina to the batter. If you're fueling up for an evening workout, maca powder is an even smarter addition. 

Don't just stop at pancakes, though. You can add these to mug cakes, sweet breads and basically any baked good (especially if it has a short cooking time). Your imagination really is the limit. My main piece of advice? When tinkering with a new recipe, start with a sprinkle of superfood powder (especially if it's spirulina) and work your way up

casey the college celiac
Waffles (using Hold the Grain's recipe) work too! 

Craving even more recipes using maca powder or spirulina? Here's some of my favorites from the blogosphere! 


The term "superfoods" may make you laugh when you first hear it, but they will make you say, "Mhmmm!" on your first taste! Especially if you have spirulina or maca-packed smoothies, granola, oatmeal or pancakes on the menu...


Do you eat any "superfoods"? Have you ever tried maca powder or spirulina? Comment below! 

4 comments:

  1. I've never tried either of these! I'll be checking them out at my local health food store for sure! Thanks for sharing it at #FoodieFriDIY! Glad to have you!

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    1. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do - definitely a fun way to change up cooking a little bit! :)

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  2. This is super interesting! I have never heard of these, or really know much about super foods. Thanks for this informative post, Casey!

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    1. No problem Hope! Thanks for visiting and commenting :)

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