What is a Super Food?

I’m sure we’d all like to think of a ‘magic bullet’ that could take care of all our health issues, which is why the title of this article is appealing: eat these foods or herbs and you will be well.

The fact is, all whole, organic, unprocessed foods are super foods. If we eat a variety of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables along with whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, coldwater fish and herbs and give chemicals and processed or fast foods a wide berth, we will feel better, have more energy and will maintain a healthy body weight.

Still, it is handy to have a short list of must-have foods and herbs that we know we can turn to for essential nutrients and maximum health benefits. My list boasts foods that have been proven to offer vital phytonutrients for helping to ease the following health benefits:

  • Lower or help regulate blood sugar levels
  • Help regulate metabolism and burn body fat
  • Help protect the heart
  • Help prevent cancer
  • Detoxify vital organs
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Prevent or reduce inflammation
  • Aid digestion

Pat’s Top Ten

It is known that the everyday choices we make have long-term effects on our health, and in order to begin to see the benefits listed above, you will need to include the following foods in your daily eating pattern. It’s time to ‘spring clean’ your diet by eliminating harmful high fat, low nutrient foods and replacing them with super foods everyday:

  • Cruciferous vegetables
  • Dark-skinned berries
  • Alliums
  • Herbs and spices
  • Fatty fish
  • Nuts
  • Legumes
  • Dark chocolate
  • Seaweed
  • Seeds

Chopping Board with Horseradish

Super Food Breakdown and Recipes

Cruciferous Vegetables

Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli rabe – contain a powerful range of disease fighters. Their Endoles and sulforaphane may increase enzymes that lower the incidence of colon and lung cancers.

My Advice: eat these foods raw and at least three times per week, everyday is ideal.

Asparagus and Cauliflower Salad Recipe:


  • 1 tablespoon avocado or olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Herb Seasoning Paste or Spring Pesto (recipes below)
  • 2 cups fresh asparagus pieces
  • 1 cup thinly sliced cauliflower
  • ½ cup shredded carrots
  • ¼ cup raisins or chopped dates
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup, lightly packed baby spinach, lightly steamed


1. In a wok or skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes or until soft and lightly colored. Add garlic and paste and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Add asparagus and cauliflower and mix well to coat with onions and spices. Cook, stirring constantly for 3 to 5 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender.

2. Remove from heat and stir in carrots and dates. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm over spinach.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Dark Skinned Berries

Blueberries, blackberries, acai berries – their high concentrations of anthocyanins and phenolic pigments (which make them dark blue, red or purple in colour) give them exceptional antioxidant, anti-diabetic and heart protective properties.

My Advice: include raw (fresh or frozen) dark-skinned berries at least once daily in meals.

Black Berry Smoothie Recipe:


  • ½ cup pomegranate juice
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen blackberries
  • ¼ cup frozen acai berries or raspberries
  • 4 beet top leaves or spinach
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon


1. In a blender, combine juice, oil, blueberries, blackberries, acai berries, green leaves and chia seeds. Blend on high until smooth. Pour into 2 glasses and garnish each with cinnamon.

Makes 2 servings

Berry Smoothie


Leeks, garlic, onions, shallots. With garlic the hero of the bunch, alliums help to protect against prostate, stomach and colon cancer; lower blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels; and are antibacterial along with other benefits.

My Advice: eat raw garlic once a day and include one other allium in a daily meal.

Leek, Garlic and Onion Tart Recipe:


10-inch (3 L) spring form pan or round tart pan, lightly oiled

Potato Base:

  • 3 cups thinly sliced, potatoes
  • 1 cup thinly sliced, peeled sweet potato
  • 3 tablespoons honey mustard
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper


  • 1/4 cup sliced leek, white and tender green parts
  • 4 cloves garlic, slivered
  • 3 cups thinly sliced onions (about 3 onions)
  • 3 tablespoons Herb Seasoning Paste or Spring Pesto (recipes below)
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C)

1. Potato Base: In a large bowl, toss potatoes with mustard and oil. Spread in bottom of prepared pan. Press potatoes with the back of a spoon to compress. Sprinkle salt and pepper over top.

2. Topping: In the bowl used for the potatoes, toss leek, garlic, and onions with Herb Paste. Spread evenly over potato base. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes or until potatoes are tender and onions are golden. Sprinkle Parmesan over top and bake for another 3 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned. Transfer to a cooling rack and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Herbs and Spices

Thyme, rosemary, turmeric, ginger, cayenne, cinnamon – most fresh green herbs contain antioxidant properties along with other healing benefits specific to the herb; dandelion and burdock leaves are cleansing; spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg contain powerful phytonutrients that regulate and affect body functions.

My Advice: eat fresh green herbs with 2 meals each day and cook with fresh ground spices (season dishes with 1 tablespoon Spring Pesto, below) every day.

Herb Seasoning Paste Recipe:


  • 1 cinnamon stick (2-inches), crushed
  • 1 tablespoon whole yellow or brown mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
  • 2 dried cayenne peppers, cut into pieces
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh green herbs (thyme, oregano, dandelion, parsley or burdock leaves)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 piece (1-inch) fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon avocado or olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon brown rice syrup


1. In a spice grinder or mortar (using pestle) chop or pound cinnamon, mustard, coriander and peppers until consistently ground (fine or coarse as desired). Add garlic and ginger and blend or pound to a thick paste. Add nutmeg, oil and rice syrup and mix until well blended and smooth. Transfer to a small jar. Label and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Makes 1/2 cup

Fatty Fishes

Wild salmon and sardines are one of the best sources of omega 3 fatty acids. Avoid farmed fish because wild-caught fish eat krill and other wild foods that contribute to the quality of their flesh; they are lower in mercury and high in vitamin D and have not been fed grain and antibiotics.

My Advice: eat fatty fish twice a week.

Braised Salmon and Kale with Red Lentils Recipe:


  • 1 tablespoon avocado or olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Herb Seasoning Paste (recipe above) or Spring Pesto (recipe below)
  • 2 cups chopped kale (still wet from washing)
  • 4 wild salmon fillets (4 oz/125 g each), skin on one side
  • 1 can (19 oz/540 mL) red lentils rinsed and drained


1. In a skillet or wok, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and seasoning paste and cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes or until onions are soft and lightly coloured. Add kale and toss to coat with onions. Place salmon over top, skin side up. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until salmon is opaque and flakes easily with a fork. Remove skin from salmon and remove fillets to a platter. Toss lentils with kale mixture and heat through.

Makes 4 servings


All nuts, especially walnuts and almonds are great sources of antioxidants, vitamin E, selenium and magnesium, and of all nuts, walnuts are highest in alpha-linolenic omega-3 fatty acids, which lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.

My Advice: eat a handful of nuts every day to help reduce the risk of heart disease.

Spring Pesto Recipe:


  • ¼ cup walnuts or almonds
  • 2 tablespoons sesame or flax seeds
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup chopped fresh dandelion leaves
  • 1 cup fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary or thyme
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • sea salt


1. In a blender or food processor, chop walnuts, flax seeds and garlic. Add dandelion, parsley and rosemary and start motor. Add olive oil slowly through opening in feed tube and process until pesto is desired consistency. Season to taste.

Makes 2 cups

Spring Pesto


Dried peas, beans, lentils – a good plant protein; high in fiber, associated with lower risks of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer.

My Advice: eat legumes three times per week, more often if you are vegetarian/vegan.

Ancho Chocolate and Sweet Potato Stew Recipe:


Chile Seasoning:

  • 3 dried ancho chiles (or 1 teaspoon chili powder)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt


  • ½ head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 4 tablespoons avocado oil, divided
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 sweet potato, trimmed and cut into large dice
  • ½ rutabaga, trimmed and cut into small dice
  • 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 1 can (28 oz /796 mL) diced tomatoes and juice
  • 1 stick (2-inch) cinnamon
  • 2 cups vegan stock or water
  • 1 oz (30 g) unsweetened dark chocolate, grated
  • 1 can (14 oz/398 mL) pinto beans, drained
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped kale, spinach or Swiss chard


1. Make Chile Seasoning: slice chilies in half lengthwise and remove stems and seeds. Toast chilies: heat a small dry skillet over medium heat. Add chilies, pressing down with tongs for 1 minute, turning over and toasting for 30 seconds on other side. Let cool and slice into 4 pieces. Pulse in a spice grinder until finely ground. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in oregano, cumin, cinnamon and salt.

2. Preheat oven to 375 F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange cauliflower in a single layer on the sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of oil. Bake in preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp-tender. Remove from oven and set aside.

3. Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes. Add garlic and Chile Seasoning and cook, stirring frequently for a minute or two.

4. Stir in sweet potato, rutabaga, carrots, tomatoes and their juice, and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally for about 6 minutes or until the mixture is thickened slightly.

5. Add stock, increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered for about 30 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender.

6. Add chocolate and stir until it is melted into the mixture. Stir in cauliflower, beans and kale and simmer until heated through, about 3 minutes.

Ladle into 6 serving bowls.

Sweet Potato

Dark Chocolate

70% cocoa or higher – high in antioxidants for anti-aging; flavonoids that prevent clogged arteries and lower blood pressure; and magnesium.

My Advice: indulge in one small square (1/2 oz/15 g) of the best quality dark chocolate (as high in cocoa as you can comfortably enjoy) every day.

Ancho Chocolate Chile (see recipe, above)


Arame, hijiki, kelp, kombu, nori, wakame – detoxify the body and help prevent assimilation of heavy metals; may have anticancer effects; individual seaweed varieties have varying levels of calcium, iodine, potassium and iron.

My Advice: eat seaweed once or twice per week and eat kombu or dulse raw (crushed and sprinkled over breakfast cereals, salads and main course dishes) every day.

Shiitake Mushroom Nori Rolls Recipe:


  • 3 tablespoons avocado or olive oil, divided
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 zucchini, peeled and diced
  • ½ cup sliced shiitake mushroom caps
  • ¼ cup chopped almonds
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Spring Seasoning Paste (recipe above)
  • 1 cup cooked Japanese sticky rice
  • 2 sheets dried nori


1. In a skillet or wok, heat 2 tbsp of the oil over high heat. Swirl to coat the base and sides. Add onions, zucchini and mushrooms and cook, stirring constantly for 4 minutes. Stir in almonds, sesame seeds, brown rice syrup, tamari and seasoning paste. Transfer to a bowl and let cool. Toss rice with mushroom mixture.

2. Lay one sheet of nori out on a sushi mat or clean tea towel. Spoon rice mixture along the long side of the sheet and roll up. Moisten the long end to close the roll. Set aside and fill and roll the remaining nori sheet.

Makes 2 rolls, about 12 slices


Flax, chia, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds – sesame seeds enhance absorption of vitamin E and help lower cholesterol; pumpkin seeds contain beta-sitosterol that offers some benefit for prostate hyperplasia (BPH); sunflower seeds help lower cholesterol and may lower the risk of heart disease.

My Advice: eat 2 to 3 tablespoons of seeds (whole sesame seeds if you can find them; pumpkin if you are male) every day.

Power Oat Bars Recipe:


11-by 7-inch (2L) baking pan

  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • ½ cup sesame seeds
  • 2 cups granola cereal
  • 1 cup large flake rolled oats
  • 1 cup dried cherries or cranberries
  • ¼ cup whole flaxseeds
  • 2 tablespoons whole chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground sea salt
  • ½ cup brown rice syrup or honey
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


1. In a large bowl, combine walnuts, sesame seeds, granola, oats, cherries, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and sea salt.

3. In a saucepan, heat brown rice syrup over medium-high heat until lightly simmering. Remove from the heat and stir in the coconut oil and vanilla. Stir until the coconut oil is dissolved. Pour over grain mixture. Press into the prepared baking pan and set aside for 15 minutes. Cut the mixture into 2 x 2-inch squares. Store at room temperature for up to 2 weeks or in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Oat Bars


Have fun trying new recipes and incorporating more super foods into your every-day life!

Recipe photos provided by Pat Crocker

Header photo provided by Serena Mor