Superfoods Blog

Page updates, recipes and DIY's for integrating potent plant-based nutrition into your active life!

Sprouts and Food Safety

Do They Contain Toxins?

Sprouts consumed from sprouting seeds have received a lot of negative media attention regarding their safety for human consumption. This controversy started way back in the mid to late 1990's when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning to the general public not to consume raw sprouts because of reported contamination of pathogenic bacteria, chiefly Salmonella and Escherichia coli. This was a result of a multi-state outbreak of E. coli infections that occurred in the United States from the human intake of alfalfa sprouts. It was later discovered that the actual seeds themselves were the source of contamination and "traced back to one common lot harvested in Idaho."

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Top 4 Garlic Benefits

Allicin and Sulfur-Containing Compounds

Garlic is an Allium vegetable, Allium sativum, in the same family as onions, shallots, leeks and scallions. Frequently referred to as the "stinking rose", the irregular rosette-like layered garlic bulb is known for its unique spicy pungent taste and powerful aroma. Its unmistakable strong zesty flavor has made it one of the most widely utilized spices, virtually present in all kitchen pantry’s and spice racks around the globe. It is often thus a fundamental ingredient in numerous cultural cooking traditions and recipes. Here on this page, we'll discuss the top benefits of garlic and its medicinal sulfur-containing compounds.

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Benefits of Royal Jelly

Is It Really a Top Superfood?

Royal Jelly is a creamy pale-yellow substance that is the nourishing food source created by bees to support the development, reproductive maturity and longevity of the queen bee. This is the largest and longest living bee in the entire colony and the mother of most all bees in the honeybee hive. Ever since the 1950's, the benefits of royal jelly have been widely marketed as a dietary supplement as well as used as an added special ingredient in commercial health food products. Is it however as beneficial to humans in the same way it is to the honeybee queen? Here on this page, we will share our current findings plus our personal views about using royal jelly as a supplement to one's diet.

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How to Make Carob Powder

From Whole Carob Pods

Want to learn how to make carob powder from harvested tree pods? When most carob pods are fresh, they have a soft breakable texture. You can actually bite into them. However, for transforming the pod into a fine flour-like powder you will need to remove the non-edible seeds. Consequently, the most time-consuming part of making carob powder from whole pods is separating these seeds from the pulp material. This is commonly referred to commercially as "kibbling". When doing this by hand, we have experimented with three main approaches.

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Bladderwrack Seaweed Supplement

A Good Source of Dietary Iodine?

Bladderwrack is a type of sea vegetable or seaweed that is found most commonly in colder waters along rocky coastal regions in the Northern Hemisphere. Sometimes generically referred to as "fucus", there are many shapes, sizes and variations of the Fucus vesiculosus species. Over the years here in Northern California, we've explored lots of majestic and pristine seaweed harvesting locations during low tide especially in the early summer when seaweed growth is at its peak. Often, bladderwrack can be the most dominant shoreline species, along with kelps like feather boa and bull kelp.

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Health Benefits of Blackberries

Top Reasons to Eat Them

Blackberries are an edible fruit that come from the rose family Rosaceae as their thorny vines and prickly green leaves might indicate. Blackberry plants belong to the genus Rubus, a varied assortment of flowering plants the most widely dispersed of which include blackberries, raspberries and dewberries. The fruit is, botanically speaking, not an actual "berry", but is an aggregate species composed of a cluster of tiny round drupelets each which form the entire berry itself.

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Matcha Green Tea Powder

Top Benefits of a Japanese Tradition

Matcha is a type of powdered green tea that comes from the same plant that produces all black, green and white tea: the Camellia sinensis species. While there are many ornamental flowering varieties in the genus Camellia, this particular species is known to have the highest alkaloid content and used most exclusively for tea production. The traditional preparation of matcha green tea powder is a spiritual activity with deep seated roots in Japanese Zen Buddhism and "Chanoyu", the Japanese Tea Ceremony. This is a meditative and highly focused ritual of preparing, serving and consuming matcha tea that has evolved as a form of ceremonial practice since the 12th century.

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Benefits of Sauerkraut

For A Healthy Gut Microbiome

Sauerkraut is one of the world's oldest fermented foods that first came about as a way to preserve food before other modern-day methods were utilized. It is made via a naturally occurring lacto-fermentation process that is prepared without heat or pasteurization techniques. The concept of cabbage fermentation is believed to have initially originated in China, but fermented cabbage was further developed into the sauerkraut we know and love today by those in Central European countries, especially Germany where it gets its name sauerkraut (sow-uhr-krowt) or "sour" (sauer) "cabbage" (kraut).

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Coconut Palm Sugar

Is It a Healthier Option?

Coconut-derived products, like coconut oil, coconut flour and coconut water, have become more popular in modern times as people reach for alternative food and drink options. If you've ever experienced living in a tropical location, you have most likely witnessed the abundant amount of coconuts the coconut palm can provide year-round. Although the Cocos nucifera tree has likewise been utilized as a source of natural sugar for centuries by people living in tropical climate zones, the use of coconut palm sugar has only just recently become trendy as an export product.

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Benefits of Walnuts

Are They Really a "Brain Food"?

Walnuts, a type of tree nut, are most commonly domesticated as a food source from the English walnut or Juglans regia species. They also grow wild in many parts of the world typically where hot dry climates seasonally persist. They are an ancient tree nut species that were interestingly not initially cultivated as an agricultural crop but were largely dispersed by humans along Silk Road trade routes to facilitate mobility rather than a sedentary lifestyle.

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Sage Leaf Benefits

Two Lesser Known Herbal Uses

Sage leaves are one of the top culinary herbs common to most kitchen spice racks around the globe, often found next to other favorites in the same Lamiaceae "mint family", like rosemary, thyme and oregano. The thick dense and fragrant smelling leaves of this perennial herb have been used throughout the ages not only their food flavoring aspects but also for their potent medicinal attributes. The genus name Salvia is derived from the term "salvere" meaning "to be saved or healed." As the old medieval proverb goes: "Why should a man [woman] die whilst sage grows in his [her] garden?"

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Decanting Homemade Miso Paste

A Long-Term Black Bean Variety

So, you've made your own miso paste, maybe using our black bean miso recipe, and are now ready to look inside the crock after a long waiting period. Congrats, good job! After a full two-years, we finally opened our black bean miso and here we will share the end results after decanting homemade miso, plus more information about koji selection. We opened it a year earlier to taste test and decided to keep on going for one more season. But this year it was ripe and ready and we pleasantly discovered that our patience paid off.

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Amla Powder or Amalaki Fruit

An Ayurvedic Herbal Rasayana

Amla powder comes from a type of fruit called Indian gooseberry, also referred to by its Sanskrit name "amalaki." It is valued as a rejuvenating herb in traditional Indian medicine known as Ayurveda and has a long history of use as an ancient herbal rasayana. The term "amla" literally means "sour." While fresh fruits can be eaten when ripe, they are known to be quite tart and astringent, not like your typical sweet and juicy variety. They also don't have a long shelf life and are therefore often prepared or dried and powdered for use in herbal formulations, but not generally consumed as a fresh fruit.

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Cacao Vs Cocoa

Top 6 Differences and Similarities

Ever wondered what the difference is between cacao vs cocoa? Learn more about the Theobroma cacao species, the bean all chocolate comes from as well as why and how it is fermented. We'll discuss more on nutritional value of both cacao and cocoa and our researched findings on their different ratios theobromine and caffeine content.

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Top Benefits of Celery Juice

Why You Might Want to Consider It

Celery juice is the liquid extracted from raw celery stalks and consuming a daily glass of this bright green drink has become a very popular worldwide trend, particularly starting in the latter half of 2018. The concept of juicing one particular vegetable variety at a time is occasionally referred to as "mono juicing." Instead of juicing several different types of fruits or vegetables together, like when making the typical green juice, mono juices specifically help to concentrate a fruit or vegetable’s health-enhancing constituents.

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Pickled Red Onions

An Easy Lacto-Fermented Style Recipe

Making your own lacto-fermented pickled red onions is a super easy process. All you need are a few basic ingredients: onions, salt, pickling spices and a culture starter. Compared to other fermented food recipes, this one doesn't involve special food-specific cultures but can be made with any probiotic supplement powder. After fermenting them for about a week they will develop a nice soft sweet pickled taste that also takes on whatever spice flavorings you incorporate into the recipe.

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About Chinese Cinnamon

Bark (Rou Gui) And Twig (Gui Zhi)

Most people are familiar with cinnamon as a culinary spice or natural flavoring, but a variety that is less familiar here in the West is the one known as Chinese cinnamon. This is the specific type of cinnamon referred to as "Chinese" cinnamon or Rou Gui in Chinese herbalism. It is commonly found in thick bark-like pieces rather than the typical "cinnamon stick" or rolled up quill. The other Chinese variety is called cinnamon twig or Gui Zhi, which is derived from the twig branches of the cinnamon tree as opposed to the trunk itself.

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Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds

Are Pepitas Good for the Prostate?

Pumpkin seeds are the edible olive-green seeds produced by pumpkins, a type of squash cultivar. Also known by their Spanish name "pepitas", the pumpkin and its seeds have been utilized for centuries by cultures of North and South America as a dietary food source and for their medicinal attributes. The pumpkin is believed to be one of the oldest domesticated squash species which occurred about 10,000 years ago in Oaxaca, Mexico. Evidence suggests that squashes like pumpkin were cultivated even before the two sister crops, maize and beans.

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Water Kefir Vs Milk Kefir

Using Traditional Grains Not Powders

Kefirs are cultured drinks produced by lacto-fermenting certain liquids for a short 1-3 day period of time. Among the list of fermented foods, they are one of the easiest to make from scratch, requiring only a few ingredients and minimal skill level. When it comes to water kefir vs milk kefir, both can be health-enhancing drinks to consume for most people. However, each variety of kefir is made somewhat differently, utilizing unique cultures that provide slightly different end results.

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Onion Nutrition

Benefits of a Common Culinary Veggie

The onion and its many different cultivars are one of the most popular species of Allium vegetables, coming close to garlic for its flavorful taste that blends well into numerous savory dishes and cultural recipes. There is in fact no other single food that is used by so many different nationalities around the globe then that of the familiar-looking and humble onion bulb. Eaten raw, sautéed, grilled, simmered and even pickled, onions and their many selections seem to have made a permanent place in the pantries of most kitchens worldwide.

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Health Benefits of Olives

Difference Between Green and Black

Olives are another one of those ancient fruits second only to grapes that were valued for their pressed juices as well as a food source. Because of its naturally bitter taste and crunchy texture, the raw olive was in fact first utilized for its "olive oil" rather than something you would actually eat ripe off the tree. Eventually curing methods were implemented to make the pulp edible, essentially transforming a hard non-palatable fruit into a rich fatty and flavorful delicacy that is enjoyed by many olive-producing countries or as an imported product.

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Top Astragalus Root Benefits

Energy Tonic And Immune Adaptogen

Largely popular in the Western world for its profound benefits to immune functions, astragalus is also recognized as one of the most potent Chi (Qi) tonic herbs available and has been utilized for centuries in Chinese herbalism for its protective, restorative and enlivening influence. What is a Chi tonic herb? Essentially, Chi tonics are natural “energy builders” and astragalus is top on the list of "major tonic herbs" for such purposes. Frequently used as a decocted tea, tincture as well as a powdered or encapsulated extract, the roots need to be hot water or alcohol processed to release their valued properties.

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How to Make a Kombucha Scoby

Grow Your Own From Scratch

Want to learn how to make a kombucha scoby from scratch so you can make your own homemade kombucha? If so, you will need a scoby, also referred to as a "kombucha mushroom" or "kombucha mother culture." We've literally been making our own since the late 80's, so we do have quite a bit of experience with this procedure. Back then, kombucha was not found in stores like it is today, nor were scoby cultures available for sale. You had to basically get a "mother" and liquid starter from a friend (or friend of a friend of a friend in some cases). It was more of a community affair.

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Nuts and Seeds List of Nutritional Data

Comparing Common Varieties

Ever want a nuts and seeds list with nutritional data all on one place, well here it is! We've compiled these break downs for you to refer back to when you want a quick glance at specific nutrient levels. The charts below list the top most common seed and nut varieties to help you evaluate which ones you might want to include more or less of according to your own personal health objectives. This info may come in handy if you're adhering to a precise dietary protocol in which more details might be helpful.

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Agave Sweetener

Controversial Use as a Healthier Choice

Agave sweetener, also referred to as agave syrup or nectar, is the processed sap or juice commercially extracted when ripe from the core of the plant "pina." Today, most agave sweeteners are primarily produced from the same blue Agave tequilana species used to make the popular distilled alcoholic beverage known as tequila. Here on this page, we'll discuss agave sweetener's commercial production and its controversial use and marketing as a "natural" sweetener. And... Is it comparable to high fructose corn syrup?

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Benefits of Black Seed Oil

Is It a Miracle Curative?

Black seed oil, also called black cumin seed oil, is the oil derived by pressing or cold extracting the seeds from the Nigella sativa species. This variety is not related to the Cuminum cyminum species known as cumin, nor the cumin-related species Bunium bulbocastanum, also referred to as "black cumin." The herbaceous N. sativa seed plant is common to Mediterranean locations as well as southwestern Asian countries like India, Afghanistan and Pakistan. They don't taste anything like "regular cumin" but have a pungent flavor that is usually combined with other spices.

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Nutritional Benefits of Figs

Do They Contain Fig Wasps?

Figs are one of those ancient fruits, up there with dates, grapes and olives, that have been utilized since the dawn of human life. Repeatably mentioned in the Bible as well as valued as a holy tree species in many major religions of the world, they are known to symbolize prosperity, peace and fertility. Native to the Middle East and then spreading to Mediterranean locations, the Ficus carica species has been widely grown and consumed by humans in regions spanning from Portugal to Afghanistan. Within the Ficus genus there are also other tropical variations on the Indian subcontinent, like the Ficus religiosa or the "sacred fig."

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How to Make Pumpkin Seeds

Using a Dehydrator, Not An Oven

Want to learn how to make pumpkin seeds straight from the pumpkin for a healthy alternative to roasting methods? Use those whole unshelled seeds from your Halloween pumpkin and make healthy nutritious snack food for you and your family. Sure, you can bake them in an oven, but another way to make them without high heat is to use a dehydrator. Much like sunflower seeds in their shell, the end result will give you a tasty snack to crack open and munch on.

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Tribulus Terrestris Review

Effect on Testosterone & Cultural Uses

Tribulus terrestris comes from the genus Tribulus which includes about 13 different species. Despite its thorny nature, the aerial portion of the plant and especially its seeds (or fruits) have been highly valued in certain countries for different therapeutic purposes as an herbal substance. We'll discuss traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese uses, but first... what are the differences between tribulus extracts and other herb-based preparations? And, can tribulus supplements actually increase testosterone levels in men and build muscle mass?

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Black Cumin Seed Salad Dressing

And Black Garlic Vinaigrette

This is our black cumin seed salad dressing that also features another black superfood favorite, black garlic! We've reviewed both of these on our black seed oil and black garlic pages, and recently decided to experiment with using them together in an apple cider vinaigrette. The blended end result proved to be the perfect combo for a delicious tasting dressing that is full of health-enhancing potential. Black seeds and their cold-pressed oil have an herbal thyme-like flavor due to the thymol compound, while the black garlic adds a subtly sweet and tangy element.

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Aloe Vera Gel Vs Juice

Top Reasons to Drink It

Aloe vera gel and juice, for consumption purposes, is typically extracted from the Aloe barbadensis Miller subspecies of the main "true" Aloe vera plant. This is the most popular variety for dietary use because of its larger sized leaves and medicinal qualities. As a hardy succulent desert-growing plant, aloe has developed a specialized storage structure which enables it to efficiently hold water within its thick green skin. These features provide a moisturizing gelatinous fiber and juice that can have a health enhancing and healing influence when consumed as a dietary food.

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What is Black Garlic?

Is It Better Than Raw Garlic?

Black garlic has a long history of use as a prized medicinal and culinary superfood in several Asian countries, primarily Korea, Japan and Thailand. Utilized today for its distinct flavor and texture as a gourmet ingredient, it is also becoming popular for its exceptional nutritional value that in some aspects supersedes the raw garlic it was created from. Made from whole unpeeled Allium sativum bulbs, it is allowed to age for a period of time, eventually darkening the bulbs and turning the cloves a dark black licorice-like color.

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Golden Milk Recipe

A Spiced Turmeric Tiger Nut Milk

Golden milk, or also sometimes referred to as "turmeric tea" is a delicious warming beverage. Blending together the three main superfood spices commonly found in most kitchen spice racks: cinnamon, ginger and turmeric, this milk recipe is a naturally stimulating combo and perfect for those trying to reduce daily caffeine consumption. We often enjoy a mug full in the mornings or as a tasty mid-day pick-me-up. It's creamy sweet and full of flavor plus all the benefits that turmeric can offer.

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Aphanizomenon flos-aquae Blue-Green Algae

Are AFA Supplements Toxic?

Aphanizomenon flos-aquae, or AFA for short, is a dietary microalgae supplement currently sourced primarily from Upper Klamath Lake, located in the western U.S. state of Oregon. Here on this page, we present information according to our personal investigation into Upper Klamath Lake derived AFA and its potential cyanotoxin content. We hope our gathered findings may be of value to you if you are either a current blue-green algae consumer or are considering dietary supplementation.

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How to Fillet Aloe Leaf

For Blended Drinks or DIY Aloe Gel

Why would you want to learn how to fillet aloe leaf? Most people are familiar with aloe's topical applications for the skin and hair, but aloe is also quite beneficial when consumed as a dietary food source. Known for its potent polysaccharide-rich gel, or thick translucent gelatinous fiber, it is one of our top superfoods for its cleansing, moisturizing, soothing and hydrating influence. Using fresh aloe leaves is a superior and often inexpensive way to make your own aloe vera gel that you can use immediately or freeze for later use.

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Chia Seeds Benefits for Weight Loss

Top 4 Reasons Why

Chia seeds benefits have long been utilized by ancient and present-day cultures of Mexico and Central America, where they grow wild and are now extensively cultivated. After the "chia pet" phase in the 1970's, the seeds continued to become more well-known worldwide as an edible variety in the late 1990's among small health-conscious communities, particularly those adhering to a raw vegan diet. Today, they have become increasingly popular as a dietary adjunct to those seeking to reduce unwanted body weight. This is because the use of the whole raw unheated seeds, especially when soaked and blended, provide an ideal food source for most any weight loss protocol.

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Bamboo Tea and Supplement Extracts

Are They a Good Source of Silica?

Most people are familiar with bamboo shoots, a common canned, fermented and boiled vegetable, but bamboo from a nutritional standpoint, is also becoming more well-known these days for use as a nutritive tea and supplement extract. Here on this page, we will discuss bamboo and its modern-day preparations, in addition to its traditional uses as an herbal substance. And also, what is silica and is bamboo a good source of this very useful mineral?

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Lacto-Fermented Green Beans

Homemade Cultured Vegetable Recipe

This is our basic recipe for making lacto-fermented green beans using a brine pickling method that does not involve high heat or canning methods. These are fermented or "cultured" using a pink salt water brine and a probiotic culture starter rather than vinegar. The beans, after being fully submerged within this liquid for about 4-7 days (depending on room temperature), produce a crisp dill-pickled green bean. This technique, in our opinion, is a much healthier option over home-canning as nutrients, enzymes and valuable probiotics for healthy gut flora are not destroyed in the process.

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Benefits of Tongkat Ali

A Top Male Libido Enhancer

Tongkat ali, or sometimes referred to as "longjack" or "pasak bumi", is a prized male tonic particularly famous for its potential libido enhancing influence. The longjack species, Eurycoma longifolia, is a small exotic shrub-like tree indigenous to Southeast Asia, particularly Malaysia and regions of Indonesia. It is the long deep roots of the plant that have been utilized in traditional folk remedies and now in modern-day powdered extracts for their potent therapeutic value.

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Chaga Mushroom Benefits

As An Immune Supporting Superfood

Chaga, Inonotus obliquus, is a rather unusual looking medicinal mushroom species that's not your typically polypore but one that grows as a black sclerotium or conk on the side of living trees. The birch tree, being its preferred tree of choice, is believed to hold the most nutritional elements needed for the mushroom's growth and condensed amount of beneficial myconutrients. Consumed as a decocted tea, hot water extract or liquid solution, the mushroom is considered a nourishing "superfood" and medicine for its transferred immune-modulating and protective influence.

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