Julie Morris looks like the kind of person you'd want to ask what her diet secret is. Piercing blue eyes aside, she glows and giggles like she's tapped into a pretty big secret—and she is: it's called Superfoods. Author of the stunning cookbook Superfood Cuisine, Morris is one of the leading experts on superfoods—both their nutritional and culinary values.
What is a superfood, exactly? Unlike the clearly defined terminology for organic food, there is no official criteria for a superfood, but Morris describes it as "the maximum amount of nutrients in the least amount of calories." That's not to say eating superfoods emphasizes low-calorie foods at all, but when the nutritional value is considerably higher than the caloric value, we're getting more of what the body needs. We eat for both nutrients and calories, and so much of the Standard American Diet is made up of calories lacking nutrients. It's why we're seeing a rise in diseases like obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
After seeing her own health and energy levels improve with the help of maca root and goji berries—two potent superfoods, Morris got the superfood bug. A long time vegan, she was already aware of the energy food carries and superfoods added another dimension to her diet. "I like knowing my food. There's a little bit of science and history in everything we eat and understanding that makes us more connected to our food and how it affects us."
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Superfood Cuisine incorporates superfoods into every recipe and emphasizes using whole foods and fresh, seasonal produce from farmers markets or grown yourself. Morris recommends three superfoods to incorporate daily: chia seeds, hemp seeds and cacao (raw chocolate). Chia is inexpensive, easy and so versatile to use from a breakfast porridge to a chia fresca drink (they absorb 12 times their weight in liquid) to adding to baked goods. Chia curbs hunger and provides lots of energy, as does the protein rich hemp seed that Morris suggests sprinkling on virtually anything. Raw chocolate contains tons of potent antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and is not diluted by heating or processing with milk and sugar.
Connecting readers to an understanding of superfoods and why we need them in our diet now more than ever was the goal of Superfood Cuisine says Morris, "There is a major separation from our farmers, food traditions and cultures, and knowing where our food comes from makes a huge impact on what and how we eat."
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger
Image: Julie Morris