WHAT ARE THESE INGREDIENTS FOR ANYWAY?
Well hello there! I hope everyone is off to a good start to their week! Last week, I provided some (hopefully helpful) insight on healthy grocery shopping on a budget. However, I'm aware some of the ingredients I put on the list may seem foreign to some people, and like, why on earth would you ever use them, right? To be honest, those were my same thoughts for a lot of my life! The names sound cool and you may feel 'trendy' eating them, but that's not why I do! I actually have a purpose for incorporating these ingredients into my diet. I notice a huge difference in the way I feel, how I act, and even how I look. I want to explain why I use these ingredients and what the heck they are, so that you can hopefully find the ones that best suit your lifestyle!
Here are some ingredients I do my best to incorporate in my diet regularly, their benefits, how to use them, and why I personally use them...
MACA POWDER- Maca comes from an adaptogenic root most commonly found in Peru. Maca has many benefits. The benefits I notice the most from incorporating it into my diet are its' ability to balance my hormones, reduce anxiety and stress, enhance my energy, and promote concentration and focus.
Use: I add it into my smoothies, but it can also be added to coffee or baked goods! I find it tastes best mixed with chocolate or coffee flavors.
MATCHA- The green stuff that kinda sounds like maca! Matcha is a finely ground powder made from specially grown green tea leaves. It contains 137 times the antioxidants of regularly brewed green tea and is nutritionally equal to about 10 cups or a regular cup of green tea. Personally, I love the taste, however, it can be acquired for a lot of people. Matcha works well for me because it doesn't end in a crash. I feel a level amount of energy, without being jittery. It's also proven to promote memory, detoxify the body, help burn calories, and improve the immune system.
Use: Since I'm a coffee addict, I rarely drink matcha in the morning. However, if I'm feeling sluggish in the afternoon, matcha is my go to! Matcha powder is great added into steamed almond milk, in smoothies, or baked goods as well!
CHIA SEEDS- It's hard not to automatically think of the famous chia pets everyone used to see on TV when thinking about chia. Chia seeds are now used in so many things! Chia seeds are high in antioxidants, omega 3's, fiber, and surprisingly contain 20% protein.
Use: My favorite ways to use chia seeds are to make chia pudding (it's really filling because the chia seeds expand in your stomach!), make chia breakfast bites (see recipe here), or throw in or on top of my smoothies, yogurt, cereal, or in oat meal for an extra crunch!
CACAO NIBS- Cacao nibs are simply chocolate in its purest form. They contain no added sugar or dairy, and have a nutty taste to them. While these little guys add an awesome crunch to smoothies as well, they also serve many benefits! They are proven to boost energy, burn fat, improve cardiovascular health, and enhance mood. I really notice a difference in my energy levels and focus when incorporating cacao nibs in my diet.
Use: I use them to top smoothies, yogurt, hot cereal, and as a substitute for chocolate chips in baked goods!
BRAIN OCTANE- Brain Octane has probably been the most beneficial product I've incorporated in my diet. It is distilled from 100% coconut oil and is concentrated in small quantities. It promotes physical and mental energy as well as focus. It also helps your body burn fat and prevents food cravings.
Use: I usually start my day with it by putting it in my coffee! I notice how productive I am in the mornings and how stable my energy is throughout the day. It doesn't add any flavor and is perfect for, smoothies, salad dressings, and other baked goods. I buy mine from Bulletproof.
ALMOND FLOUR- I've found almond flour to be the most versatile of grain free flours. A lot of my recipes include almond flour. It is pretty easy to find in many grocery stores nowadays! I either buy Bob's Red Mill almond flour or Trader Joes has a really well priced bag also!
Use: I enjoy the light, fluffy texture it adds to baked goods and how I don't feel weighed down at all after eating it.
TURMERIC- Turmeric is becoming widely popular and I love it! It is a plant from the ginger family that has a vivid yellow color, especially in its powder form. It has NUMEROUS benefits some of which include, anti inflammatory purposes, is linked to improved brain function, cancer preventative, and is shown to have many benefits against depression. I try to incorporate turmeric as much as I can in my diet for long term health purposes!
Use: It is delicious in steamed almond milk with maple syrup, cooked into rice, and also in my Turmeric Chocolate Chip Cookies (my favorite cookie recipe ever!).
GRASS-FED GHEE- I have a sense this one is confusing a lot of people... ghee? what on earth is ghee?! Ghee originated in India and is (thankfully!) making its way into the U.S. and Californian cuisine! Ghee is unsalted clarified butter that is heated gently causing the milk solids to separate and move to the bottom of the pan. Removing the milk solids gives the butter a longer shelf life and higher smoke point. Ghee has more health benefits than butter, and is easier to digest (especially for those with minor dairy allergies) and also better for heart health than normal butter.
Use: I use ghee to sauté vegetables or cook eggs in. I have a difficult time digesting butter so I love this as an alternative, plus the flavor is great!
HEMP SEEDS- Alright, hemp seeds are aweeeesome! These little seeds have a nutty flavor and 2-3 tbs of them contain about 11 grams of protein! They are also shown to help improve digestion and reduce the risk of Heart Disease.
Use: I usually toss these in my smoothie, on top of salads, or in baked goods for an extra protein boost, that leaves me full and satisfied for for hours!
FLAX MEAL- Flax meal comes from the flax pant. The meal is the ground up version of the seed and has a nutty taste. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and high in fiber.
Use: I like to stir flax meal into! hot cereal, add to baked goods, smoothies, or on top of my yogurt
COCONUT SUGAR- Just what it sounds like! Coconut sugar is derived from coconuts and is an excellent alternative to cane sugar. It has a subtly sweet flavor.
Use: Use as an alternative for cane sugar in all kinds of baked or raw goods! I also sometimes put it in my coffee :) Try this Almond Butter Spice Freezer Fudge sweetened with coconut sugar!
As you can tell, these ingredients do a lot! Although they may seem odd to incorporate into your diet at first, personally, I have noticed a vast difference in my health and body from using them regularly. It is awesome that stores such as Trader Joes are making some of these ingredients available to the greater masses and selling them for a fraction of the cost they are normally priced at! It may take time to figure out which ingredients work best for your own body and how you like to use them, but I hope this is a helpful place to start!
Wishing everyone the best week ahead!