While not intended to replace healthy whole foods themselves, super-food powders can be a powerful way to up your nutritional game.
They’re easily added to just about anything: lattes, smoothies, oatmeal, baked goods… You name it, the possibilities are endless!
In this post, I’ll be sharing my 10 favorite super-food powders (in no particular order) that are absolute staples in my pantry + how I use them.
1. MACA POWDER
Grown in the Peruvian Andes mountains, this Incan superfood has been used medicinally since ancient history. Today, it’s mostly known for naturally boosting energy, regulating hormones, and supporting sexual health.
Maca powder is high in calcium, potassium and vitamin C, as well as a great source of plant-based protein.
Its taste can be described as earthy, nutty, and slightly sweet – a bit unusual perhaps but sure to satisfy both the sweet and savory parts of your palate.
HOW I USE IT: I love to add a teaspoon of maca powder into oatmeal, yogurt, or smoothie bowls. It also forms a great combo with other powders and spices like cinnamon, cacao, carob, or acai!
2. ACAI POWDER
Acai berries grow in the Amazon rain-forest and have a wonderful taste that’s both sweet and tart.
While all berries are high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber, the acai berry is a true super berry in that it surpasses its berry relatives by far in terms of antioxidants. So much so that many cosmetic brands have started to incorporate Acai into their skincare products since antioxidants can slow down the aging process.
Another area where acai differs from, say, a strawberry or blueberry, is its fat content. Acai is very high in heart-healthy fats, so great at improving your cholesterol profile by increasing HDL (the “good” cholesterol) while decreasing LDL (the “bad” cholesterol).
HOW I USE IT: I can never, ever, get enough of acai smoothie bowls! There’s really no other way. I usually make them using frozen fruit (bananas or mango), then mix in 2 teaspoons of acai powder, and blend everything together with plant milk. I often also throw in some maca or cacao / carob powder – or vanilla protein powder post-workout. Kerry likes to top with fruits and some fresh coconut!
3. MATCHA POWDER
While matcha belongs to the green tea family, its grown and consumed quite differently from other types of green tea.
The leaves of matcha plants are shade-grown and because they aren’t exposed to direct sunlight, they’re higher in antioxidants.
Also, matcha comes only in powdered form (the leaves are stone-ground into powder) and you dissolve all of it into the water you drink. In other words, with matcha you fully ingest the tea leaves, while with regular green tea you only steep the leaves.
This means that matcha is more concentrated than regular green tea – particularly in antioxidants, caffeine, and an amino acid called L-theanine that’s been shown to increase mood, energy, focus, and clarity of mind.
HOW I USE IT: In so many ways! Some examples:
1. Simply to make a green tea by stirring matcha powder together with hot water
2. To make a matcha latte by mixing it with some type of plant milk (e.g., oat milk, almond milk or coconut milk)
3. In nicecream or smoothie bowls
4. To make dessert such as these Raw Vegan Matcha & Coconut Bites
4. CACAO POWDER
You’re probably already familiar with cacao powder, as it’s a key ingredient to many of your favorite chocolaty treats.
In its raw, pure, unprocessed form, cacao is incredibly good for you: it’s one of the most antioxidant-rich foods out there and loaded with magnesium, iron, and fiber. Cacao is great for energy, reducing inflammation, and can also help keep your sweet cravings at bay.
Make sure to look for cacao powder and not cocoa powder. Cocoa powder is processed at a much high speed so loses much of its nutritional value.
HOW I USE IT: I absolutely love the rich, chocolaty flavor of cacao!
1. I add it to oatmeal, smoothies or smoothie bowls for breakfast
2. To coffee + hot plant milk (almond, soy, oat, etc.) to make a mocha latte
3. As an ingredient to all kinds of baked goodies (chocolate cookies, chocolate cake, brownies… yummm ❤️)
5. CAROB POWDER
Similar to cacao, carob powder has a chocolaty taste – though it’s not as rich and intense. It is, however, caffeine-free so perhaps better for when it’s later at night.
Carob powder is high in fiber, antioxidants and important minerals such as iron and calcium. It boasts impressive health benefits like helping with digestion, improving cholesterol, and managing blood sugar.
HOW I USE IT: Similar to cacao powder.
Spirulina is a blue-green algae and one of the most nutrient-rich foods out there: it’s full of iron, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin Bs, and vitamin K. It’s also a great source of protein and omega 3 fatty acids, as well as rich in chlorophyll.
Thanks to its incredible nutrient density, spirulina is truly unmatched when it comes to health benefits. Its great at reducing inflammation, improving gut health, balancing blood sugar, and detoxification – to name just a few examples.
Don’t be alarmed by its somewhat fishy flavor – spirulina is so concentrated that you’ll only need a small amount to enjoy its health benefits.
HOW I USE IT: I like to add spirulina to smoothies and smoothie bowls (usually ½ to 1 teaspoon). Tropical fruits like mango and pineapple are especially great at masking the fishy taste of spirulina, as is vanilla (extract or protein powder).
7. KALE POWDER
Along with other cruciferous veggies like arugula, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, kale is rich in fiber and low in calories. It’s a nutritional heavyweight, providing your body with plenty of vitamins (notably A, C and K) and a whole host of minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium. It also contains an arsenal of important antioxidants and phytonutrients that help your body fight inflammation and disease.
The health benefits of kale are many, including supporting bone health, hearth health, eye & skin health to name a few.
HOW I USE IT: To sneak in extra greens, I like to throw in about a tablespoon of kale powder to green smoothies or smoothie bowls – usually together with frozen fruits (mango, banana, berries), spirulina, maca powder, and vanilla (extract or protein powder).
Left picture – Kerry’s ”go to Green juice ingredients…
8. CHICORY ROOT POWDER
If you can’t live without your coffee but are worried about overdosing on caffeine, chicory root powder might be the answer you were looking for.
It’s often blended together with figs and barley to give it that rich, coffee-like taste. It’s really a great coffee substitute and has a smooth and creamy feel to it.
In addition to being caffeine-free, chicory root powder contains important nutrients like manganese, potassium, phosphorous, vitamin B6, and vitamin C. It’s also a good source of inulin, a prebiotic fiber that can help with weight loss and improved gut health.
HOW I USE IT: I love a good morning cup of coffee but, being a difficult sleeper, I tend to be more watchful of my caffeine intake as the day progresses. If it’s after 2 PM and I still feel like having a coffee, I simply replace the coffee beans with chicory root powder.
I love it in my decaf lattes – mixing together hot water, some type of plant milk, a dash of vanilla extract, and coconut creamer. Truly delicious and just like the real deal!
Cinnamon is a very popular spice used in all kinds of recipes and for good reason. It has a distinctly sweet, warming taste that can help you cut back on sugar if you like to sweeten up your food or drinks.
And speaking of sugar, cinnamon is well-known for its anti-diabetic effects: it’s been shown to balance blood sugar levels by decreasing the amount of glucose entering your blood stream after a meal, while improving sensitivity to insulin.
It’s also high in protective antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, immunity-boosting, and metabolism-boosting properties. A true super spice!
There are two main types of cinnamon:
· Ceylon cinnamon (also known as “true” or “real” cinnamon)
· Cassia cinnamon (which is more widely available and commonly used; this is what people generally refer to as “cinnamon”)
While both types of cinnamon contain healthful compounds, Ceylon cinnamon is considered higher quality and more potent. Also, Cassia cinnamon contains coumarin which can cause liver damage if consumed in large quantities.
HOW I USE IT: In nearly everything! I’m absolutely OBSESSED with cinnamon ❤️
I mix it into my oatmeal (usually a heaping teaspoon) or yoghurt, sprinkle it on top of fruit (e.g., banana, apple, kiwi, strawberries), and add it to my coffee lattes… It’s also a staple ingredient whenever I’m baking (e.g., cookies, muffins) or when I’m making pancakes or waffles.
This peppery root from the ginger family has gotten tons of health hype recently, which I think is here to stay.
Curcumin – turmeric’s main bio active compound – is well known for its amazing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It’s also great at supporting digestion, boosting metabolism, and improving blood flow.
Turmeric is very, very rich in minerals (manganese, iron, copper, magnesium, potassium, zinc), has lots of fiber, and contains healthy amounts of vitamin E and K.
It has a somewhat spicy, bitter taste and a bright orange color, making it a perfect spice to add to meals for extra flavor and coloring.
HOW I USE IT: I love adding turmeric to coconut curry dishes (made with lots of veggies, pulses, and rice / noodles) for some extra kick, or to scrambled tofu (together with nutritional yeast and tamari / soy sauce) to give it that egg-like look and taste.
And while I’m personally not a huge fan of turmeric lattes, you could try adding ½ to 1 tsp of turmeric to warm plant milk to create your own “golden milk”.
This article was written by the fabulous Irene Tjia who is a plant based foodie over at Clubcoconutti
Head over to her blog to check out some of her plant based treats…