Super Foods for Super Powers?
When professional triathlete Brendan Brazier wanted to stand out from his competition, he discovered that the best way to improve his athletic performance, as well as his healing and recovery, was through the foods he consumed. His research led him to a vegan diet – purely inspired by the need for optimal athletic performance. He found that raw superfoods in particular gave him ‘powers’ that he just couldn’t get from animal flesh. Maca and raw cacao, two of his frequently consumed favorites, are easy to use…and they can help give YOU super-powers too!
Cacao, the seed of the fruit of an Amazonian tree, is the highest antioxidant food on the planet! What we know as ‘chocolate’ is made from the seeds of a plant called Theobroma cacao. The seeds are dried and roasted and then processed to form cocoa, the basic ingredient in chocolate and chocolate products. The use of cocoa for eating and drinking probably dates back several thousand years. Chocolate and cacao are often associated with love and euphoria. This is due to the presence of phenylethylamine and anandamide in raw cacao.
Ancient Aztecs and Mayans both used cacao as a beverage and treated it as if of divine origin, a way for them to bridge the earth to heaven!
Characteristics and Benefits
- The #1 source of magnesium, iron, and chromium. Magnesium relaxes muscles, improves digestion and reduces blood pressure
- Extremely high in PEA (PEA is the ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter) which elevates your mood and energy
- Rich in theobromine which provides cardiovascular support
- Highest antioxidant content on the planet; combats cancer and aging
- The only food that contains the neurotransmitter anandamide, aka the “bliss chemical”, making it a a natural aphrodisiac
- Balances brain chemistry
- Builds strong bones
- Increases focus and alertness
How to use it:
Raw cacao can be consumed in the powdered or in ‘nibs’, which are essentially chopped pieces of the seed. Cacao powder tastes great when added to a smoothie, or even simply blended into a glass of non-dairy milk, perhaps with a bit of natural sweetener of choice. Cacao nibs, due their larger size, can be used as ‘chocolate chips’ and sprinkled on some nice-cream (aka banana ice-cream) or as a topping over fresh berries. They can also be blended in to a smoothie, but will result in a slightly grainy texture – even when blended with the all-mighty Vitamix!
You can also find cacao at Choices Cafe in our:
Black Bean and Beet Brownies (pic to the left!)
Superfood Donuts (see pic above!)
Berry Love Smoothie
Thinner Mint Smoothie
Cacao Strength Smoothie
or add some cacao to any smoothie, or even your pancakes!
Maca, a root from Peru, is a tuber (like a potato), and offers an amazing energy boost for those with low energy. Maca, unlike coffee, offers energy in a non-caffeinated way that supports the body.
Maca is a nutritionally dense super-food that contains high amounts of minerals, vitamins, enzymes and all of the essential amino acids. Maca root is rich in B-vitamins, which are the energy vitamins, and maca is a vegetarian source of B-12. Maca has high levels of bioavailable calcium and magnesium and is great for remineralization.
Maca root also helps balance our hormones by stimulating and nourishing the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, which are the “master glands” of the body. These glands actually regulate the other glands, so when in balance they can bring balance to the adrenal, thyroid, pancreas, ovarian and testicular glands.
Instead of providing hormones to the body, maca works as an adaptogen which means that it responds to different bodies’ needs individually. If you’re producing too much of a particular hormone, maca will regulate the production downward. However, if you’re producing too little, it’ll regulate the production upward.
Characteristics and Benefits
- Increases endurance and stamina
- Enhances fertility
- Can regulate hormone imbalances
- Speeds wound healing
- Enhances memory, learning, and mental ability
- Good for healthy teeth and bones
- Acts as a fungistatic and bacteriostatic
- Acts as an anticarcinogen and antioxidant
• Is an alternative to anabolic steroids to help build muscles
Hormones regulate many things including mood, growth, sexual development, and tissue function. Hormones also play a role in many diseases, like cancer and depression. Research indicates that hormone-balancing maca also supports adrenal gland function, which is very important in times of stress when the adrenal glands produce large amounts of adrenaline. Athletes sometimes use maca to boost energy and stamina, and there are reports that this root can increase mental function as well.
Maca is also a fertility enhancer and is best known for improving libido and sexual function, especially in men. For this reason, it’s earned the nickname “nature’s Viagra.”
How to use it:
Maca has a light, nutty flavor and some easy, delicious ways to consume Maca powder as a food are to add to your smoothie, stir into a bowl of soup, or sprinkle some over organic, non-microwaved popcorn and flavor with coconut oil and sea salt.
It’s recommended to start with a 1/2 teaspoon a day, and work up to a teaspoon or two a day over the course of a few weeks. If you’re taking it daily, it’s best to take a day off each week.
Alex’s Crazy Easy Pre-Workout “Pudding” of Super Heroes:
- 1 Tablespoon of organic Maca
- 1-2 Tablespoons of organic Cacao Powder
- 1/4 cup of organic almond milk
Mix these together to form a pudding. Start by adding a little bit of almond milk to the mix, and as these clump together, you will start to form a smoother pudding like consistency. Then take it and head out to the gym to have a natural POWER workout!