Power Up!

By+Cara Matheis

With a new year already well under way, chances are you recently renewed your vows to eat healthy and shape up those soft spots after holiday indulgence. You are not alone. Many of us are creating the same goals; some want to cook more and eat out less, others want to juice their way into good health while the rest of us are just trying to figure out how to cheat a little and still be able to button our jeans. Whatever your goals are you are going to need some help.

You have probably noticed the stacks of magazines at the grocery store checkout counter that claim to have all the secrets to losing pounds and inches. And then there are the many TV shows about dieting, exercising and cooking, which can be overwhelming at best. If you want to see different results, you will have to try something different and in order to do so, you will need to be armed with the latest nutritional breakthroughs that will elevate your energy, health and self-esteem. Here are some of my favorite off-the-beaten-path-but-very-good-for-you foods that should be on your next shopping list.    

It’s not too late to keep your New Year’s goals in check by adding these and other nutritious foods to your diet. By Memorial Day you will be enjoying more energy, a leaner body and a glowing smile!


These beautiful red berries have been recommended by Tibetan doctors and Chinese herbalists for over six centuries for their abundance of antioxidants, along with their numerous vitamins, minerals and disease-fighting polysaccharides. By weight, Goji berries contain 500 times more vitamin C than oranges. These powerful berries also contain 18 amino acids including all 8 of the essential amino acids. High in fiber and B vitamins, Goji berries make the perfect addition to your fruit salad, trail mix or granola.


An underrated but highly qualified nut! Unusually rich in selenium (an essential mineral and antioxidant that is typically hard to come by) Brazil nuts are a serious contender when it comes to preventing cancer, controlling viruses, lifting your mood and supporting overall immunity. These funny shaped nuts are also highly anti-inflammatory. Just a few of these a day can provide you with about 4g of protein. Mix with almonds, pumpkin seeds and a handful of dried fruit, such as Goji berries for a great homemade trail mix.


Chia seeds or Salba (a proprietary heirloom seed) are a great source of calcium, fiber, protein and heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. They absorb up to 200 times their weight in liquid, which can keep you hydrated for a longer period of time, and this will also slow the absorption of carbohydrates into the digestive system. These seeds are great to sprinkle on your morning oatmeal or stir into your yogurt. And if you really want to get creative, you can make a delicious and easy pudding.


This purple seaweed is one of nature’s richest sources of vitamins and minerals. Dulse is about 22 percent protein and a good handful provides more than 100 percent of the recommended daily intake of B6, iron and fluoride and more than half of the recommended daily intake of B12. It is a good natural source of iodine, which is needed for the thyroid and endocrine system to regulate metabolism. The flavor is rich with a hint of saltiness, which makes it a great alternative to sea salt on soups, salads, sandwiches and roasted veggies.


Rich golden flakes of pure goodness; a slightly salty and Parmesan-like taste that enhances not only the flavor of your meals, but is packed with complex B vitamins including B12 and Folic Acid. Sprinkle on salads, veggies, potatoes, rice, chili, soup and popcorn.


A traditional Japanese condiment, Gomasio is simply roasted sesame seeds infused with sea salt. It’s easy to make at home and a great seasoning for rice, steamed broccoli or asparagus, or in place of salt. The minerals in the sea salt plus the iron and calcium in the seeds makes this a great way to cut down on your salt intake while boosting the nutritional value of your meal.


Cara Matheis is a local food crafter of gluten-free and Vegan confections. She is also owner of A Dedicated Life, a specialty gourmet store featuring hard-to-find, quality gluten free and Vegan grocery items, located inside the South Bend Farmer’s Market. Cara is dedicated to providing healthy, indulgent treats that are not only delicious and nutritious, but are also beautifully packaged. Special attention is paid to every detail of each of her original creations and she is constantly developing new recipes for her cookbook, which will be available in 2012. Her confections are available online through the Purple Porch Co-Op and the South Bend Farmer’s Market. For more information contact her at Adedicatedlife@gmail.com or view her items at www.purpleporchcoop.com or become a fan on Facebook.


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