The Joys of Spirulina
It feels so good but it tastes so bad…
Although Spirulina looks like food from the future, it is in fact one of the oldest known life forms on earth. A mainstay of the diet in African Chad from the 9th century until today, it is known to have been used as a food source for the Aztecs until the 16th century: they called it “Techuitlatl”, which means ‘The Stone’s Excrement’. Tasty!
Now although ‘The Stone’s Excrement’ may not be the best term to whet the appetite, this blue-green microalgae is so nutrient dense that it is claimed we could survive on Spirulina & water alone, as just one teaspoon of Spirulina has the nutritional value of several servings of common vegetables.
For our palettes, however, now so accustomed to the joys of brie, sundried tomatoes, and massaman curry, living on Spirulina alone, despite all its health benefits, seems like a rather torturous option: it is, for most of us, something of an acquired – or not so acquired – taste, flavoured as it is with a faint hint of fish and seaweed. Hmmm. So after we take a look at some of the key health benefits, we’ve included some super simple recipes below to help you enjoy – or at least hide – Spirulina’s charms.
So why take it at all?
As Spirulina is a natural source of food packed with essential nutrients like no other, it is literally teeming with potential health benefits. Studies have been conducted on it since the 1970’s, and demonstrate, amongst other things, that it:
• Encourages weight loss
• Counteracts toxins in the body
• Helps purify the liver
• Increases mental alertness
• Lowers blood cholesterol and excess triglycerides
• Helps fight viral infections
• Treats radiation sickness
• Enhances the ability to generate new blood cells
• Improves blood sugar problems
• Strengthens the nervous system
• Strengthens the immune system
• Removes toxic metals such as lead and mercury from the body
• Improves the healing of wounds
How should Spirulina be taken – and even enjoyed?
Although mixing Spirulina in plain distilled water is the best way for maximum absorption, the most popular way to enjoy Spirulina is to add it to your favourite fruit or vegetable juice in a blender. It tastes good with apple juice or in a smoothie with bananas or mangos. You can start with a teaspoon or less at first and add more only when you are sure you can tolerate the taste.
After taking Spirulina, avoid alcohol, soft drinks or coffee for 30 minutes as these drinks can destroy some of the nutrients and enzymes
As heat also destroys much of the nutrient content, it is best not to include Spirulina in cooking recipes; however, it is possible to add it to soups or stews just before serving.
And for the adventurous, here are some simple Spirulina recipes:
Spirulina Green Juice
1 English cucumber
2 medium sized apples (I like Fuji apples best, but any variety will do)
1 small lemon or lime
1 teaspoon Spirulina powder
Juice the produce in a juicer and then add 1 teaspoon of Spirulina powder to your juicer.
3 tablespoons raw honey
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon Spirulina powder
Mix all ingredients together and use as you would regular honey by drizzling it on fruit, putting it in your tea, cereal, etc.
Spirulina Seasoning Salt
4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon Spirulina powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste
Sprinkle this seasoning salt over air popped popcorn, kale chips, steamed veggies, baked potatoes, etc.
Simple Spirulina Salad Dressing
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Spirulina powder
Juice and zest of ½ lemon
Sprinkle of garlic powder and cayenne pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together and pour over your favorite salad. Some people make the dressing without the lemon juice and zest, so you can experiment with what you like best.
And here are a few more simple ideas:
- Spirulina in rice: mix it into some rice with olive oil and maybe salt or liquid aminos and tofu chunks added. Also fine with vegetables or beans.
- Spirulina on rice cakes (or toast): Just a little olive oil and spirulina sprinkled onto a rice cake is delicious. Also good on toast.
- Spirulina & tofu: Sprinkle some on tofu, adding olive or flax or wheat germ oil as well. Adding some chopped, fresh vegetables into this dish is quite nice as well.
- Do it Sanctuary style, by adding your daily dose of Spirulina to a fresh coconut. My favourite for sure.
(with thanks to the internet, particularly eatdrinkbetter.com and rawglow.com for the recipe ideas).