By Chef Centehua
We are living in a completely different world from that of our grandparents and ancestors. Our children will be faced with many challenges and also will have to use their creativity to solve and restore many of the environmental issues that threaten our health. Since the the rise of industrialization, our food has changed drastically. Not so long ago, before we had supermarkets, everybody grew food and foraged for it. People simply took responsibility for their health. It was common knowledge among women to identify the medicinal plants in their area in order to heal their families. The process for making tinctures and medicinal salves was something that was passed down to the next generations.
We have gone from family farms to factory farms, from real homegrown food to food-like products made in chemical labs. The health crisis is intimately connected to the environmental crisis. And so we are now called for greater awareness and self reliance. Still, there is so much to be hopeful for. While we are bombarded with toxins and pollution on a regular basis, we also are returning to a more holistic and natural lifestyle. The fast food nation is quickly transforming into a slow cooked movement. Permaculture workshops are sprouting like weeds in every state. Yoga has become a fast growing trend in the Western world. Urban gardens and backyard chickens are also gaining momentum. And ancestral foods are making a grand comeback. Just about time! What are these ancestral foods? Superfoods such as cacao, maca, spirulina, chia, mesquite pod, goji berries, hemp, noni, acai berry, coconut, mulberrries, lucuma, bee pollen, chlorella, purslane … just to name a few.
Superfoods are quite literally superior in nutrition to domesticated foods. Indigenous people all over the planet continue to thrive on these foods, staples in their diets for millennia. These are our ancestral foods, and they are here to restore us to optimum health and help us connect to a very ancient and valuable knowledge. Consuming organic foods maintains the body, and superfoods ensure vitality and strength. Superfoods and superherbs such as ashwagandha, turmeric, shilajit, maca, reishi, nettle, etc., give us insurance for a stronger immune system and overall energy. They are medicine. These foods usually are grown in pristine soil and wild harvested, hence their nutrient density. Green superfoods such as spirulina, wheat grass, barley grass, wild green-blue algae and chlorella have the highest easily digestible nutrient content. They also contain protective photo-chemicals that help keep the body clear of disease and illness while detoxifying and oxygenating the cells. Now, that is medicine my body can use! And now they are easily available online or at your local health food store.
Nut, seed and berry superfoods are loaded with antioxidants which boost your immune system by fighting free radicals from pollution, smoke, radiation, deep fried foods, etc. For example, cacao, the ancient Mayan superfood, contains the highest amount of antioxidants and magnesium found in any known food. That is raw cacao, not cocoa or processed sugary chocolate. Magnesium also happens to be the most deficient mineral in the modern western diet. Gratefully, it’s easy and fun making your own raw chocolate and adding this incredible food to your diet every day. Many health food stores carry raw cacao nibs, cacao powder and cacao butter. Simply add a scoop of cacao powder to your morning smoothie and get ready for a great day.
Maca is another incredible food you can add into your cacao smoothie. The maca root is a superfood from Peru — a real adaptogen, helping the body adapt to environmental stress. Maca is wild harvested and consumed as a medicinal plant by the Peruvian people. The Inca warriors used maca to increase their strength and energy. It is also a powerful aphrodisiac and balances hormones.As with all stimulants, a little goes along way, so I recommend moderation. It’s all about balance. I’ve learned that the hard way, and can you blame me? I mean raw chocolate for health and beauty? Yes, please, lots and lots of it then … until I felt high and couldn’t get myself to sleep. “So,” I thought, “maybe I should have just a little each day, maybe cacao truffles and a smoothie for breakfast followed by rice with cacao nibs, cacao elixir and cacao pudding for dinner.” Is it overkill? … You think?!
While there are many South American superfoods, I encourage you to dabble a little in the wild herbs that grow in your area. I have become a passionate forager. Not only does wild harvesting get me out into my natural environment, but it also empowers me to learn about the medicine in plants and how I can use them. Two of my favorite local superfoods are purslane and stinging nettle. Purslane grows wild and can be easily transplanted to your garden. But be careful, as it will spread like wildfire. Purslane contains alpha-linolenic acid, a wonderful omega 3 fatty acid. You can eat it raw or cooked as a side dish. Stinging nettle is another herb I pick any time I’m out in the country. It grows all over the world and its medicinal qualities are outstanding. Nettle tea is effective for building blood, as it contains Iron. It also helps dissolve kidney stones, pretty much clears any issue in the urinary tracts, helps treat allergies, and also treats inflammation of the prostate. It is generally the cure-all.
It is obvious that we need to reconnect to the knowledge our ancestors had. They did not have a medicine cabinet filled with laboratory pills; they went to nature — no side effects I may add. I am grateful, of course, for modern medicine, especially in case of emergencies. But I want to bring awareness to our having the power to order the most amazing nutrient dense cacao, grown with care, fairly traded and delivered to our doors. Just like cacao, many, many wonderful superfoods help heal our bodies while we support indigenous cultures everywhere with our orders. In our foods, there is very little medicine like that found in these herbs, nuts, seeds, berries, greens growing in the wild.
When I began my journey into the raw food world, my body transitioned and began to detoxify and restore. Now I am thriving, not only on raw foods, as I have a complete real food diet. It is mostly a superfood diet, for I consume them every day. I used to overeat, especially when I went 100% raw. When I started eating more superfoods like chia, goji and spirulina, I felt satisfied and full. I started needing less and feeling very energized. The more I learn, the more I use them, the better I feel. Now I am free to get on with my life with sustained energy, balanced metabolism and freed of disease. That to me is true wealth. Superfoods are not cheap, but I value my health above all. Without it, I can’t really do what I love, so I put my money where my mouth is. Superfoods are my preventive health care plan. I make my bi-monthly order of cacao, spirulina, hemp, maca, lucuma, goji berries, chia seeds, chaga and reishi mushroom extract and I’m good to go! I also get local bee pollen and raw honey.
Incorporating superfoods and wild herbs into your diet is easier than you think. It could be as simple as your making rice and adding a few tablespoons of hemp seeds. Done. Smoothies and elixirs are a great way to get these goodies into your system, too. I have dedicated a part of my life to sharing information with people simply because I have experienced the life changing effects myself. I love making superfood meals and I share my recipes. Naturally. This is how I live, so it’s what I do.
Life is a delicious journey. Nature has all we need to heal and feel good.
Learning about these amazing foods is fun and there are great books, documentaries and websites you can explore: