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6 Sexy Superfoods for Spring

Put the spring in your step with these South American superfoods wherever in the world you are.

Put the spring in your step with these South American superfoods wherever in the world you are.

Spring is definitely the sexiest season. Finally, after months of darkness, the sun comes out again and, after months of hibernation, so do we.

The days get longer, the sleeves and skirts get shorter, the skin gets softer and, thanks to more vitamin D, there’s more positive energy in the air.

Spring is the perfect time to give the body – and mind! – time to recover after the winter and get in shape for summer. Why not borrow some tips from our sexy friends in South America?
Thanks to globalization, many formerly esoteric roots and seeds from the region are now easily found in most supermarkets (or online if need be). Superfoods aren’t necessarily miracle cures as often touted by companies and marketers today, but they definitely do provide an added boost of both flavor and nutrition.
Like any food, moderation is key (except when it comes to chocolate, I say!).

Cacao

It’s no secret – and also very exciting news – that chocolate does a body good. Chocolate in its purest form, namely cacao, is rich in antioxidants that promote heart health, glowing skin and good circulation.
It’s one of the most famous natural aphrodisiacs thanks to its blood-pumping properties and its influence on hormones. It’s also a great source of magnesium, which both calms the mind and energizes – think of it as yoga for your brain.
Oh and if you feel drugged after eating chocolate, it’s because… you are! Cacao is rich in theobromine, a chemical that naturally boosts the mood. And we all know that there’s nothing sexier than a smile!

While its more famous cousins like cacao or quinoa may like to steal the spotlight, mesquite is a star in its own right.

Mesquite

Mesquite is such an underrated superfood in my opinion. While its more famous cousins like cacao or quinoa may like to steal the spotlight, mesquite is a star in its own right.
However, it does do best in a supporting role. I love to add just a spoonful of this to breakfasts, desserts and smoothies for added sweetness and a creamy texture.
It offsets the bitterness of cacao perfectly and gives anything – and everything ! – a subtle, caramel-like flavor. Mesquite is usually found as a powder, but it comes from a high-protein seed native to South American desert regions.
It balances blood sugar and boasts protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. It’s very soothing to the stomach – one of my favorite ingredients to ease tummy troubles. Isn’t that sweet?

Chia

Chia has become a global sensation recently, but these tiny seeds have been a superfood sensation in South America since the days of the Aztecs!
The seeds come from a plant native to Mexico and Guatemala and, according to legend, the ancient Aztecs were able to run marathons nonstop eating only chia seeds!
I cannot confirm this, but I can confirm that these tiny seeds pack a protein-powered punch and will energize you all day long!

Chia seeds are filled with the elusive Omega 3 fatty acids, protein and fiber, and their hydrophilic properties allow them not only to plump up puddings, desserts or dressings, but also to hydrate the body for hours. Chia makes for a perfect simple breakfast soaked in nut milk and topped with fruit, nut butters and/or granola, and chia gel is a great egg substitute for baked goods.

Quinoa salads are the new black. Or rather, the new red, white and black, since these superseeds come in a trio of hues to decorate any meal in style.

Quinoa

This Bolivian superfood has become an international superstar. Quinoa salads are the new black. Or rather, the new red, white and black, since these superseeds come in a trio of hues to decorate any meal in style.
Quinoa is a complete protein, so it’s great for vegetarians, and it’s also a source of feel good food magnesium in addition to several vitamins and minerals like manganese, phosphorous, copper, iron, zinc, potassium and folate (an extra bonus if you’re pregnant or would like to be!)
Plus, its consistency holds up well in salads and it’s my favorite pseudograin (aka a seed that acts like a grain in most preparations, so don’t be fooled!) to take “to go” or store in the fridge for easy use any time of day or night.

It’s great as a sweet breakfast or dessert, stuffed into red bell peppers or squash, sautéed with veggies or simply eaten as is with a splash of olive oil and spices.
For added nutrition and easier digestion, soak your quinoa overnight, or even for a few hours, in some lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Then, just drain and rinse and cook in water, coconut or nut milk or veggie broth or herbs for extra flavor.

Vanilla

Vanilla may be synonymous with “plain” or “dull,” but this bean native to South and Central America is anything but! Vanillin is antibacterial and is great for skin cleansing and its B vitamins help to keep skin, hair and nails healthy.
The aromatic scent of vanilla can help to relieve anxiety and can also calm the digestive system to help with nausea or pain.
It also boasts anti-ageing properties thanks to its high antioxidant count.
This fragrant spice is also a well-known aphrodisiac so use it to spice things up in other areas of your life as well.

There’s nothing like fresh vanilla straight from the bean, but try vanilla powder, the next best thing.
You can also use more commonly found (and less pricey) vanilla extract, but try to find an alcohol-free variety. Add vanilla to anything and everything (I do!) And even though I grew up grappling with the tough decision of “chocolate or vanilla?” I think that they make a winning combination together – vanilla can offset the bitterness of a raw cacao powder so feel free to add it to any of your favorite recipes au chocolat.

Maca can help with anxiety, mood swings and depression, all of which can be out of sync as the temperatures change and Spring gets into full swing.

Maca

Shake what yo maca gave ya!
Feeling sexy is all about the hormones, and maca is a great way to naturally balance them.
Maca is a root from the radish family that is rich in vitamins B, C and E, in minerals like calcium, iron, zinc and magnesium and also boasts fiber.
It can help with female fertility and also has been known to boost energy and libido in both men and women – even athletes take it!
It can also help with anxiety, mood swings and depression, all of which can be out of sync as the temperatures change and Spring gets into full swing.

Add maca to your morning smoothie or big breakfast bowl of chia or granola or sprinkle over oatmeal after it’s done cooking. Start with small amounts and build up as your body grows to tolerate it.
Don’t take too much at once or it may actually have the opposite effect and throw your hormones out of whack. And try to opt for gelatinized maca – it’s much more digestible than its completely raw form.

Recipe
Sexy Spicy Spring Superfood Snack

This is the perfect Spring treat to energize our bodies after a long, weary winter and prepare them for the transition between seasons.
Voilà a recipe that uses all of our new favorite superfood friends.
It’s an Easter (or Passover-friendly !) treat with a South American twist that you can also enjoy for breakfast – just add to a big bowl with some banana slices or fresh fruit – or transform into a fancy dessert parfait – just layer with coconut or cashew-banana yogurt and fresh fruit.

Whether you’re celebrating a holiday or simply the Spring season, make this asap!

Spicy Sexy Spring Superfood Snack Serves 1

  • 2 tablespoons of chia seeds
  • ¼ cup of cashews or almonds
  • ¾ cup of coconut water
  • 1 Medjool date
  • 1 (very generous) tablespoon of cacao powder
  • 1 teaspoon of mesquite powder
  • 1/8 tsp of vanilla powder
  • 1/8 tsp of cinnamon powder
  • 1 teaspoon of cacao nibs
  • Optional (for extra sexiness): 1 tsp of maca powder
  • Optional (for extra spiciness): a pinch of Cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • Optional: (for extra Springness): a handful of fresh seasonal berries or fruit
  1. Soak the cashews or almonds overnight or for at least a few hours.
  2. Add the chia seeds to a small bowl or glass jar.
  3. In a Vitamix (or high-speed blender), blend the cashews and almonds with the coconut water, then strain through a nut milk bag or sieve.
  4. Blend again with the date, vanilla powder, mesquite, cinnamon, cacao powder and optional Cayenne.
  5. Pour the mixture over the chia seeds and mix with a spoon.
  6. Leave on the counter for around 5-10 minutes, then mix again with a spoon.
  7. Cover and leave in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or overnight.

I love to make this either before I go to sleep so I have a quick breakfast waiting for me in the morning – just top with some nut butter or some fruit ! – or in the morning, then take it out mid-morning or mid-afternoon for a boost.

It will store well in the refrigerator for 2-3 days and you can even take it with you and eat it hours later even if it’s not in the fridge (as long as it doesn’t bake in the sun!)

Rebecca Leffler

Rebecca Leffler is a writer, journalist and wellness consultant. She is the author of best-selling French book Green, Glam & Gourmande and follow-up title Green, Glam & Happy. Her book “Très green, très clean, très chic: Eat (and live!) the new French way with plant-based, gluten-free recipes for every season” was released in 2015. Follow Rebecca at Lafleurparisny.com.

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