Loving the BITE: Morning Kick-Start Acai Bowl
Are super foods actually super? Or are they just a marketing ploy that exaggerates food health properties to get you to shell out big bucks for ordinary foods? Is there anything great in them for cyclists?
Yes and yes and yes.
This week, we’re gonna tackle superfoods. The truth, the myths, and the marketing. And guess what? I still say they’re super. And, I’m looking forward to some Acai Berries (powdered, pronounced ah-sigh-ee).
And along with our discussion, here’s one of 2016’s most popular superfood healthy breakfasts – the DIY Acai Bowl!
Recipe of the week: DIY Acai Bowl
- 1 Tbsp Acai Powder
- 1/2 cup plain Greek Yogurt OR Chia Pudding (dairy Free)
- 1 small banana, sliced, or 3/4 cup any fruits
- 2-4 Tbsp chopped nuts such as walnuts OR hemp hearts
- 2 Tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes
Mix Acai Powder and yogurt (or chia pudding), spread across bottom of bowl. Layer banana slices, walnuts, and coconut flakes across yogurt. Enjoy for breakfast!
Nutrition info: ~320-400 calories, ~35-40 gm carbs, 8-15 gm fiber (greater end of range of fiber w/ hemp hearts & chia pudding), ~15 gm protein.
This is a simple recipe made with simple foods. In fact, I would swear that this is the same as a yogurt or fruit parfait (and we all know what Donkey from Shrek says about Parfaits), or a deconstructed smoothie; just renamed, rebranded, and marketed well.
Hmmm…sounds about the same as “Super Foods.”
About 5-10 years ago, the Internet, nutrition books, and all the nutrition blogs exploded with the concept of a super food. And to be honest, I didn’t think much of it, as I knew the term simply meant a food that offered health benefits beyond those encompassed by any calories, or grams of carbs, fats, and protein. In fact, I loved this term. I was, and am, all for these types of foods.
In my mind, it separated a poptart from a banana + a small handful of nuts. Sure they both have about 200-250 calories. And believe it or not, they both have about the same amount of carbohydrates (give or take), poptarts have less fat, and with the nuts/banana have slightly more protein. But if you didn’t know better, you’d think they were similar based on calories & macros. We know better, these are where the similarities stop.
What differentiates them are the super nutrients in the super foods and the horrible ingredients in the processed one. The “super” nutrients go beyond macros, go beyond calories, and offer phytochemical, antioxidants, and hardly-understood components that nourish our cells from the cells on up. To me, yes indeed, these are super. And, as a food & nutrition expert, I begin using the term Super Food appropriately. And, I still do.
But here’s where it got tricky. As with any good thing in nutrition, once there’s money to be made, lines are crossed, claims are exaggerated, and many are left confused. Food manufacturers and marketers began using the term “SuperFood” without boundaries, and begin insinuating that some special foods could heal and absolutely were worth their ridiculously high prices (such as acai in the United States). This did not mean that superfoods were anything less than super, but that consumers need to be better educated about what makes them super, and whether or not they pocess nutrients that cannot be found in other foods, potentially closer to home and at a better price.
Indeed, most natural, from the earth, whole fruits and vegetables, many nuts and seeds, and even spices, herbs, and vinegars have “Super Food” properties. And many have similar ones (berries across the board, for example). So while there’s little harm in trying new, exotic-to-me foods like acai, it doesn’t means it’s necessary. You don’t have to choose between being a healthy cyclist and shelling out $12 per 1/4 pound of powder. You can eat other, less expensive super foods. Or, if your budget allows it, more expensive ones. The choice is yours, and both are good.
This is my take on Super Foods. I think the “ranking of them” if silly and futile…they are all good and offer different, awesome components for the body. I will stand behind the term, though, and will continue to introduce, entice, and explain delicious, health-benefiting Super Foods of the earth.
Soap Box officially over. What’s in Acai Berries for Cyclists?
Like many other berries, and very similar to cranberries Acai Berries are low in sugar, and contain excellent amounts of iron, calcium, fiber, and vitamin A. What’s more, they contain anthocyanin compounds such as resveratrol and cyaniding and ferulic acid, which give Acai, blueberries and grapes their distinct dark color. These compounds team up with flavonoids to defend the body against harmful free radicals (they are strong antioxidants). In fact, acai berries contain 10 to 30 times more anthocyanin power than red wine. And then, they also contain beneficial fatty acids such as oleic acid, one of the same oils found in olive oil, and fiber.
Medicinally, fresh acai has been used to help treat many conditions in South America. And, dried, juiced, or frozen acai juice (which is what’s available outside South America) may help prevent health problems such as arthritis, inflammation, and allergies…conditions that are highly inflammatory and are associated with oxidative stress.
But if you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, cranberries make a great alternative (buy them up now and freeze): Here’s how & prepare them & spoon them over yogurt.
This week, go ahead, indulge in Super Foods from the earth rather than poptarts:). Enjoy foods that go beyond macros and offer for you body. It’s okay whether cliche or not. I’ll be unashamedly enjoy my Acai Bowl before a few cold-weather rides this week, that’s for sure.
Fuel Your Ride. Nourish Your Body.
If you’d like to work with Kelli one-on-one with a Custom Nutrition Plan & Coaching, or download one of her acclaimed Instant Download Plans like Fuel Right Race Light, click here: Apex Nutrition Plans for Endurance Athletes. Be sure to use coupon code lovingthebike for a 15% discount!