The Wonder of Spirulina

The other day I took a lovely shot of my chopping board full of green, leafy goodness. It was literally a picture of health. Green-anything just screams ‘nutritious’, so much so that just by looking at it you feel better. Honest.

So, goes without saying that the greener the better. Well, I’ve discovered the greenest. Welcome to the wonderful world of spirulina. I had never tried spirulina before up until a few weeks ago when I read an article about it’s nutritional benefits by nuts.com.

We all know how much I enjoy my crazy food adventures, so I thought I should make something special.IMG_1500 Now, I am always hesitant to use the term ‘superfood’, because I really do think that all plant foods are super in their own individual way, but the nutritional profile of spirulina is particularly impressive. Spirulina is a cyanobacterium, a type of algae sourced from lakes and sea-water, and is made up of around 60% protein. It’s also a source of complete protein, which is quite rare in plant foods. Looking at it’s nutritional profile, spirulina is a good source of  Vitamins B1 and B2, as well as iron. Just remember to take the serving size into consideration though, as you only use it in small amounts. A lot of sources claim that spirulina is also a good source of B12, a vitamin particularly important for vegans, however the form of B12 in spirulina is in fact a pseduovitamin – meaning that it looks the same as regular B12, but doesn’t have the same bioactive properties in the body. Those sneaky vitamins.

In terms of health benefits, the research at present has been minor, although a number of studies have shown positive effects on hyperlipidaemia (high cholesterol). One Japanese study based on an animal model with induced atherosclerosis showed significant improvements in both HDL and LDL cholesterol levels after being fed a diet supplemented with spirulina. Human studies have also found significant effects on lowered LDL cholesterol levels, however further research is needed to determine conclusive results due to small sample sizes.

Originally I had planned on using my spirulina in a peanut satay sauce like in the Malaysian dish Gado Gado, but then I had a change of heart as I reminisced about a salad dressing that I remember Jamie Oliver making a while ago called Green Goddess. How appropriate! Apparently the Green Goddess dressing is from a while back, I had never heard of it before, but it’s pretty tasty! The original dressing uses anchovies, so I thought that the spirulina would make a good substitute for that ‘ocean-y’ flavour. It’s a word, yes. And it did.

FullSizeRender


Very Green Goddess Dressing

1/2 x bunch basil

4 x stalks spring onion, green part only

1/2 x cup greek yoghurt

1 x TBS mayonnaise

2 x tsp lemon juice

1/4 x tsp salt

1-2 x tsp spirulina

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.

Can be stored in the fridge for up to a week.

Use as a salad dressing, pour over steamed vegetables, or as a dip for crackers and veggie sticks.


FullSizeRender

Head on over to nuts.com for even more spirulina recipe ideas, including a delicious looking ice cream that I am very keen to try. You can also add a few teaspoons to your smoothies in the morning for an extra vitamin boost. Don’t be scared off by the colour, it may look a little intimidating but mix it in to your smoothies or dips for a healthy dose of green goodness!

Advertisements

My Kale Romance

Ever since I can remember I used to have a problem with green leafy vegetables. Throw anything at me and I would eat it, but the green leafy stuff I just couldn’t do. It was a textural thing I think. The thought of putting a big bunch of salad leaves in my mouth still turns me off a bit..especially that ‘gourmet salad mix’ with the red lettuce leaves..that one’s the worst 😦

It was a shame really, because the first thing that comes to mind when we think of ‘health food’ is green veggies. And rightly so. They are definitely full of the good stuff. So my not eating them probably didn’t do me any favours…..Our green leafy friends do all sorts of things..they provide us with fiber, folate, fat soluble vitamins A, E and K and can also be a good source of Calcium and iron. Fiber provides the roughage in our diet that keeps our digestive system happy and also fills us up. Folate is needed for cell growth and development and is especially important during pregnancy as it reduces the risk of neural tube defects. And for those of us who are not eating red meat, green leafy veggies are a really important source of iron! Combine with a source of vitamin C and even better, so throw some red capsicum into the mix too 🙂

I could continue raving about them but I’m sure you get the point?!

Then one day I discovered rocket/roquette/arugula/whatever and my world was turned upside down (this also coincided with the Green Smoothie Discovery – but that’s another for another day). I loved the stuff! I like the peppery taste and it must be because the leaves are a bit finer so it doesn’t give me that horrible soggy texture thing going on in my mouth.. Anyway I used to eat bags of the stuff..take a look at my mega sized salad bowl that I would eat out of at work (I was the running joke come lunch time.)

68914_10152614623059805_3393057730043357428_n

Fast forward to 2014 and I have ventured out into bigger and bigger things (sorry rocket). Kale! I really dislike following trends..especially nutrition trends..and I know kale is one of those super foods at the moment, but I honestly think it is fantastic. Again, it’s the textural thing. You can cook it and it doesn’t break down or go soggy. I usually just stir fry it for a few minutes until it turns bright green and then throw it into a salad, or you can bake the leaves and make kale chips, or you can shred it finely and put it into a soup, the possibilities are endless! Can you tell I’m in love?

Here is a really simple, tasty recipe that I’ve found on Taste.

IMG_0720

Roast Pumpkin & Kale Salad

500g pumpkin, diced

1 TBS olive oil

1 TBS minced ginger

1/2 tsp sea salt

1tsp cumin

1 bunch kale, shredded, stalks removed

1 cup cooked quinoa

1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

Toss the pumpkin in the oil, salt, ginger and cumin, place in a roasting pan and cook for 30 minutes on 180C or until golden and tender.

Use cooking oil spray to oil a deep frying pan to lightly cook the kale until leaves turn bright green.

Don’t skip toasting the pumpkin seeds, it makes the flavour a million times better! Place them in a dry frying pan and toast until lightly golden, watch they don’t burn.

Toss the roasted pumpkin, kale, quinoa and pumpkin seeds in a big salad bowl.

Drizzle with olive oil and add S & P to taste.

Makes around 3 large or 4 small serves