This is the first post in a series highlighting superfoods, herbs, and other not-so-common foods.
Sometimes the peas and carrots just ain’t enough and that’s the the truth of it. Luckily, mama Earth didn’t leave us hanging. In those desperate times we need not despair, for within reasonable reach… are Nature’s Secret Weapons!
I stocked up on one of my favorite superfoods this week. The mighty mysterious wonder: SPIRULINA. I remember falling in love with this blue-green beauty before I even tried it. I get immense enjoyment out of merely uttering the word, probably because it rolls off the tongue so mellifluously. Well that’s enough waxing poetics for one post. Here’s the skinny on the lovely ‘lina…
Spirulina is a blue-green microalgae, which grows naturally in mineral-rich soda lakes around the world. I recall being slightly turned off by the idea of consuming lake sludge (imagine that). Although it made me think of murky ponds and fish tanks, it was receiving wide acclaim in the health world as a wonder plant, so I put my prejudices aside and gave it a try. As you can imagine, I’m grateful for my adventurous spirit because I have enjoyed a serious boost in overall health. Here are some reasons why:
- Perhaps the most astonishing fact is that spirulina is quite possibly the most concentrated source of protein on the planet. It is a complete protein source, containing all essential amino acids. (1)
- A multitude of benefits for the immune system, heart, blood pressure, liver function, and blood sugar levels (1)
- Alkalizing, energizing, and promotes weight loss. (1, 2)
- Assists the body in cleansing and detoxifying (3)
- Enhances cognitive function and protects brain (1, 2)
- Helps promote healthy skin, hair, and eyes. (5)
- Assists the body in removing heavy metals such as lead and mercury (6)
- Plant source of vitamin b12, usually only found in animal products. (4)
- Rich in antioxidants, phytonutrients, fatty acids, and trace minerals. (1, 2)
Spirulina dates back over 3 billion years, making it one of the oldest life forms on the planet. The oxygen it provided in those early Earth years contributed to life as we now know it. It was harvested in ancient times by the people of Chad in the 9th century and the Aztecs in 16th century Mexico who (affectionately?) called it ‘Tecuitlatl’ (meaning ‘stone’s excrement’) It has seen a steadily growing revival since the 1960s, most notably in Japan where it is consumed more than anywhere else in the world.
Some compelling facts…
The name spirulina comes from a Latin word meaning ‘tiny spiral’, due to its microscopic spiral shape.
The powerful antioxidant phycocyanin, found only in spirulina, is what give it a blue-green hue. (8)
Spirulina is recommended as a suitable space food by NASA according to some sources. (10)
It has been noted that one could most likely survive on water and spirulina alone. A Japanese philosopher named Toro Mattsui clamed to live off of nothing but spirulina for 15 years! (9)
Due to the fact that it is one of the richest whole-food sources on the planet, and its growth and cultivation is affordable and efficient, spirulina could play a major role in solving world hunger!
Spirulina was used to treat children exposed to chronic low-levels of radiation after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. (8)
I recommend getting the powder, since it is more versatile, but you can also purchase it in capsule form. You can add the powder to smoothies or plain water. You can also make a skin mask by adding water to about 2 teaspoons of the powder until it forms a paste which you can apply to the skin. I usually add a small scoop (1/2 tsp. or more) to my green smoothies and enjoy getting creative with it like the recipe below…
Green Dream Brownies
Makes: 6 Brownies
Time: 15 minutes prep, 1 hour in freezer
1 cup gluten-free rolled oats
1 cup walnuts
¼ cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons raw cacao powder
2 teaspoons (or more) spirulina powder
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon coconut oil (warmed to a liquid)
- Put oats and walnuts in food processor for about 30 seconds
- Add all other ingredients except coconut oil and process until one consistency and color formed (probably another 30 seconds)
- Add coconut oil and pulse until it’s all worked in. It may not look green, but that’s why I called “green dream”, it’s a normal brownie dreaming of the green. Now you understand.
- Lay it all on a sheet and work it into a flat square shape. You can use a roller to flatten the top and push in the sides with your hands.
- Put in freezer for 1 hour, cut into squares, and enjoy!
Have you found any other interesting facts about or uses for spirulina?