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5 LATIN AMERICAN SUPERFOODS TO BOOST MENTAL HEALTH + RECIPE



We are so excited to publish this guest post to our blog from the passionate and talented Holistic Samantha

Part of the motivation for Loisa is to create more than quality Latin products - it's to raise consciousness about how important it is to our bodies and minds to eat nutritious and delicious foods. 

Have a read below for some great advice and guidance from our friend and expert, including a quick recipe to try out!

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Superfoods are plant-based food items with very high amounts of vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, antioxidants and fiber! I have personally experienced the amazing healing benefits of many of these foods, as well as dozens of my clients and now you! The tasty superfoods mentioned in this article all originate from Latin America and the Caribbean Islands! Let’s see how we can use these traditional foods to help heal ourselves mentally and physically!

So much of our mental health and wellness can be managed and healed by the foods that we consume on a daily basis! Yes! You can improve your mental wellbeing drastically by consuming foods that are hydrating, packed with vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to thrive as well as foods packed with antioxidants!

When we stay hydrated, this means increased blood flow throughout the body. In turn making more oxygen available to the brain! When we eat whole and nutrient dense foods packed with vitamins and minerals, we give our bodies the perfect balance of nutrients. They work together beautifully to help ourselves maintain optimal mental health! When we consume colorful foods rich with antioxidants, we protect our cells and improve our genetic expression.

Yes please, to all of it!

The mind and body want to heal themselves and want to perform as optimally as possible! By eating anti-inflammatory, plant based and nutrient dense foods, we also help to reduce inflammation in the brain. When inflammation in the brain is reduced, symptoms that we experience from anxiety and depression are dramatically reduced as well!

When your hectic daily life becomes too much- turn to these foods for the boost you need. Expect improved mental clarity, a more elevated mood state and higher energy levels! You got this!

Cacao
Cacao is very rich in magnesium and has a very high antioxidant value. Magnesium is responsible for calming our nerves as well as creating balance within our mental and emotional states. Considering that over 70% of Americans are deficient in Magnesium, you’ll want to invest in this Superfood! Cacao originates from the Cocoa Plant and is one of the purest forms of chocolate we can consume. I love to add one tablespoon of Cacao Powder to my morning smoothie for an extra boost of energy and amazing mental clarity! It is seriously so delicious, it’s ridiculous.

Quinoa
Quinoa has been growing in the South American Andes for thousands of years. It is referred to as “The Mother Grain” as it is has more Calcium than milk and has the highest healthy fat content of any other grain available to us! They are such a great source of Iron and B-Vitamins. You can use Quinoa as a healthy replacement for white rice!

Chia Seeds
Chia Seeds are one of the highest quality sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids. They encourage amazing blood flow throughout the body helping to prevent circulation issues and heart disease. They lower blood pressure as well! If you’re an athlete or exercise on a regular basis, they make an awesome pre-workout meal! They give you all of the energy you need to power you through your training. You can add Chia Seeds to your oatmeal or make some Chia Seed Pudding! Be sure to add in some fruit for extra flavor and sweetness!

Yuca
Yuca! Just thinking about this delicious Latin American superfood is making me crave some Pasteles de Yuca that we eat around Christmas time! This root vegetable is packed with dietary fiber and delicious complex carbohydrates to help aid in our daily digestion! This helps us maintain a healthy weight and a healthy digestive tract. A healthy digestive tract filled with balanced gut flora equals an improved and elevated mood state! Yuca also contains high amounts of Vitamin C, giving our immune system the boost it needs! Remember to purchase all root veggies organic when possible for maximum nutritional benefits!

Avocado
Avocado is well known for it’s high quality, easily digestible healthy fat content in the form of monounsaturated fatty acids. This not only helps keep our skin healthy and aid in our digestion, it helps to improve our mental health drastically! You can add Avocado as a side to your favorite Caribbean meals.

 

***PUERTO RICAN "BEEF" STEW BONUS RECIPE***

Here's a great way to start putting some of these superfoods to use!

Ingredients

  • 1 Large Organic Beet
  • 5 Medium Sized Organic Carrots
  • 4 Small/Medium Sized Organic Gold Yukon or Red Skinned Potatoes
  • 1 Large Organic Onion
  • 1 Cup of Organic Wild Rice Blend
  • 8 oz Seitan Cubed (Pre-Packaged)
  • Vegetable Broth
  • Loisa Sazon & Adobo Seasoning
  • Bay Leaves, Pepper, Garlic Powder & Himalayan Pink Salt (optional)


Sazon & Adobo Seitan

  • First you will want to take your pre-packaged Seitan and season it with Loisa Sazon & Adobo to taste! I used a heavy hand with seasoning my Seitan to give it extra flavor! Set your Seitan aside in a bowl and let it marinade while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. 


Root Vegetables

  • You will now begin prepping your vegetables! To prepare the root vegetables you will want to place 1 tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a medium sized pot, one with a lid. You'll peel the skin off of your carrots and beets and dice them. You'll take your onion and potatoes and dice them as well! I leave the skin on my potatoes- I only remove any undesired blemishes. Place the onion into the pot over medium heat first, let the onion caramelize on its own! After about 3-4 minutes toss in the rest of the vegetables! Keep in mind that you will want to purchase Organic Root Vegetables for added nutritional benefit!
  • Cook the Root Veggies together for about 1-2 minutes! You will then add 1/2 a cup of vegetable broth, toss  in the seitan and cover it and let it all cook together on low heat! Feel free to add in 1-2 Bay Leaves for extra flavor!


Wild Rice

  • Take the Wild Rice blend and cook it in a medium sized pot! I cooked this 1 cup of wild rice with 1 + 1/2 cups of vegetable broth and 1 +1/2 cups of water. So 3 cups of liquid total! I added a pinch of Himalayan Pink Salt for extra sabor! 
  • Once the root vegetables are tender they are done cooking and once the rice is soft, water evaporated- it is all done! 

Enjoy!

Wishing you the best in health!

Samantha Otero, eCornell Nutritionist, Holistic Health + Empowerment Educator

Instagram | @HolisticSamantha


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