Author of “Superfood Cuisine” and chef/recipe developer of Navitas Naturals, a fair trade company that provides high quality, certified organic, raw, kosher, superfoods such as Goji berries and Raw Cacao, Julie Morris is an expert on all things superfoods. But, what exactly are superfoods and is it worth splurging on superfood-based beauty products? What are some good superfoods to indulge in when on-the-go and what's the deal with chocolate? To find out answers to these questions and more we turned to Morris.
The Fashion Spot: We hear so much talk about superfoods. Can you explain what exactly they are?
Julie Morris: Superfoods are essentially the most nutrient-dense foods found in nature; foods that are inherently packed with the most amounts of micronutrients, meaning vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals, per calorie. Of course, many whole, plant-based foods fall under this definition, but semantics aside, it’s the philosophy of superfoods – seeking and eating the most nutritious, beneficial foods available – that’s the important take-away concept.
tFS: Beauty products are increasingly formulated with superfoods. Is that a marketing gimmick or could they be beneficial when applied topically as well?
JM: The first step for anyone who wants to genuinely “get the glow” should be to eat for beauty, by including natural, nutrient rich foods that promote a healthy body, which translates to a radiant exterior. But it makes sense to seek superfoods for topical use too, as the skin can absorb up to 60% of what is applied to it. Nonetheless, the benefits of superfoods do work best from the inside out as opposed to the outside in.
tFS: If we looked inside your fridge, what would be typically find?
JM: A lot of color! I always have lots of leafy green vegetables, as they’re an everyday staple, plus other kinds of veggies and plentiful fresh fruits. I also keep some glass jars filled with nuts/seeds like hemp and chia as they last longer in the fridge. Some condiment staples include miso paste, Dijon mustard, olives, and hemp oil and there’s always several glass storage containers floating around inside with superfood-enriched meals I’ve made earlier in the week in bulk so they’re ready to grab-and-go for when I’m too busy to make anything, or too hungry to wait.
tFS: For people new to raw superfoods, it's easy to get intimated. What are some of the most approachable snacks that you recommend?
JM: For anyone just starting out, I recommend trying out superfoods that are very versatile, like chia seeds. Chia has almost no flavor at all and is absolutely tiny — smaller than a sesame seed — which makes its skin-friendly omega-3 fats a no-brainer to sprinkle in, literally, anything. Another option is starting out with readymade snacks that are already packed with superfoods: I’m obsessed with the Navitas Naturals Cacao Goji Power Snacks, which are delicious, energizing, and bursting with superfoods.
tFS: When you're on the go and don't have time to stop for a meal, what are the best snacks to opt for?
JM: A trail mix that’s simply composed of dried fruits and nuts is always a good, balanced, holdover snack. Natural energy bars are also particularly easy to transport. Smoothies that are made without added sugar make a fabulous, not to mention delicious, vitamin-rich light meal. And, of course, never ever underestimate the power of a couple of pieces of simple fresh fruit – especially “superfruits” like berries, which contain rejuvenating antioxidant compounds.
tFS: Can you elucidate some of the ties between superfoods and beauty?
JM: Superfoods promote beauty in all kinds of ways, including clear skin, shiny hair, bright eyes, and especially anti-aging. The high concentration of essential fatty acids and vitamin E in hemp seeds, for example, serves as a crucial element in the development of new cells and promotes vibrant skin. Wheatgrass and other greens provide condensed amounts of chlorophyll – the “blood” of plants that increases circulation, detoxifies the body, and replenishes tired cells with needed minerals. And many berries, like blueberries, or better still, acai berries, have concentrated amounts of antioxidants that help fight against cellular oxidation otherwise known as disease and aging.
tFS: Chocolate is such a controversial product. We hear that it causes breakouts on one hand and on the other that it prevents heart disease! What's your take?
JM: I consider real chocolate – raw, pure, cacao — as something of a miracle food. It’s the added sugars, dairy, and refined ingredients that we often see in the chocolate products of candy companies that are at the root of chocolate’s negative, but not the chocolate (the cacao) itself. Cacao is one of the highest antioxidant foods in the world, soars in the magnesium, calcium, iron, and minerals, and by itself, is sugar free. Study after study has proven its positive effects on everything from heart disease to sunburns. Cacao is not to blame for its negative press, it’s really the added ingredients that need to be adjusted!
tFS: Is there a Navitas product you find people intimated by that you wish they would venture and try?
JM: One product is wheatgrass powder. The minute people hear “wheatgrass” they think either green shots at juice bars that make you gag, deem it a "treehugger superfood”, or worse. The truth of the matter is, the beauty of Navitas’ freeze-dried wheatgrass powder is that you only need a little of it to get the benefits, and it has such a mild taste that you can sneak it into recipes unnoticed. Stir it in with juice, and the flavor goes to the background. I’ve snuck it into everything from pesto sauces to desserts and it adds over 70 vitamins and minerals! I’m also a huge fan of camu powder – it’s like nature’s vitamin C pill. Just a teaspoon of camu powder (which is simply ground camu berries) contains almost 1200% RDA vitamin C – amazing! Vitamin C is great for the skin too, a well-known anti-aging antioxidant.
tFS: Can you give us some of your favorite easy recipes that incorporate superfoods that you think are particularly great for skin/hair health?
JM: I love making my own energy bars as they’re so quick to make and are a great way to pack in superfoods, like these Green Energy bars which feature all the vibrancy of wheatgrass powder (see here). Whipping up a quick batch of No Bake Brownies (make them in 5 minutes) is great way to enjoy chocolate in a healthy manner and gain all the anti-aging benefits of cacao (see here)! I also love working sea vegetables onto my plate, as their wealth of minerals is key to a good complexion. This Superfood Goshimo condiment takes just minutes to make and is the best salad, soup, or popcorn topping!