It’s a rich dark green (or blue), it comes from the sea, and chances are you’ve seen it listed as a component in at least one food or beverage item at your favourite plant-based hotspot.
Spirulina is popular in whole-food plant-based diets, and not just because it’s fun to say. So why is it so prevalent in the discussion of nutritious staples to include in a balanced plant-powered lifestyle?
A little backstory on this superfood superhero.
There are multiple strains of this blue-green and sometimes straight-up blue algae available in health food stores around the world. For the purposes of this post, I’ll focus on the well-known blue-green variety, Spirulina platensis. It gets its name from the spiral structure of these single-celled organisms.
So why do you want to eat this stuff?
Some of the benefits attributed to spirulina include:
- source of B vitamins – great for energy and supporting metabolism
- source of essential amino acids – great for complementing protein intake
- source of essential fatty acids (omega 3 and 6) – great for fighting inflammation
- source of antioxidants (including phycocyanin, a blue pigment) – also great for fighting inflammation and cellular damage
- source of minerals iron, magnesium, and calcium – great for supporting proper function of blood, muscles, and bones
- may help improve cholesterol balance
- may have blood pressure and blood sugar regulating properties
- may improve symptoms associated with seasonal allergies and asthma
- may boost immune system (use caution, avoid, or discontinue if you have or suspect an autoimmune condition)
Sounds great, right? Now how do you get started with it?
Most package instructions suggest 1 to 2 teaspoons per day. If you’re not sure how it will affect you, start small. I personally like working in 1/2 or even 1/4 teaspoon increments to start with any new superfood. It’s a fabulous addition to smoothies, salad dressing, and iced matcha lattes. Or try the delicious energy balls recipe below, which uses up to 2 teaspoons for the whole batch!
Salted Dark Chocolate Spirulina Energy Balls
Makes about 15-18 ping pong size balls. Serving size: 2-3 balls. Prep time: about 15 min.
- 1/2 cup sunflower seed butter
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
- 2 Tbsp soaked pitted dates (about 4)
- 1/4 cup or 1 serving size/scoop plant-based chocolate protein powder
- 2 tsp spirulina powder (OR 1 tsp spirulina powder + 1 tsp matcha powder) – I used Prairie Naturals organic spirulina powder
- 2 Tbsp raw cacao powder, optional
- 1/2 tsp sea salt (if not using salted sunbutter)
- 2 Tbsp water (as needed for mixing)
- approx 2 Tbsp hemp hearts for rolling
- Combine all ingredients except water and hemp hearts in a food processor. Blend until mostly smooth or to desired texture (blend less if you like crunchy pieces in your energy balls). If dough has trouble mixing or becomes too powdery, add water 1 Tbsp at a time until it starts blending smoothly and/or sticks together again.
- Once dough has formed, start scooping spoonfuls out and rolling them into ping pong size balls. Using damp hands may help. Should make 15-18 balls depending on size (serving size and nutrition info is based on 2 balls per serving in a 16 ball batch).
- Spread the hemp hearts on a plate. Roll the energy balls in the hemp hearts to coat. Place the balls in an airtight container, or 2-3 at a time in single serve containers. Keep refrigerated for up to 1 week, or freeze and thaw prior to serving.
The information contained in this post is not meant to replace the advice of your primary healthcare practitioner. Please consult with them before adding any supplement/superfood to your regimen to rule out contraindications.