Rediscovering the Magic of Goji Berries
Eating like a centenarian?
For a long time I knew that goji berries were good for you, that they are an ancient power food, and I even regularly added them to oatmeal and chocolate truffles. What I have to acknowledge though is that I never really knew why they were so good besides being a good source of some minerals and vitamins. Then one day while browsing through the weird looking stores in Chinatown, I saw that there were lots of goji berries there. They were sold prepackaged and by the pound, there were Tibetan and Chinese varieties, they were way cheaper than at Whole Foods and way more abundant… I had no idea that Chinese were eating goji berries so much or that they can be sold by 5lbs bags anywhere in the US. Little did I know!
Apparently, traditional Asian cuisine includes tons of recipes with goji berries: from broths and soups, to fish dishes and curries. I was amazed that Goji berries are not only used for sweet treats! This finding triggered further research on goji berries and their role in Traditional Chinese medicine. I needed to know why Asians love them so much – are they hiding a goji berry secret?!
Here is what I found out: (very interesting!)
Chinese wolfberries or boxthorn fruit and is more commonly known as dried goji berries. They are small bright red fleshy fruits. According to Chinese medicine Goji is an adaptogen and primarily supports Yin Jing. They are often included in soups and broths as a tonic in Chinese home cooking. They are one of the main foods consumed by Li Ching Yuen, who was said to have lived 252 years. The Ningxia Province in China, where these berries grow, has more centenarians than the rest of China. The residents age gracefully, and they are more active, healthy, and vibrant than elderly Westerners. Chinese medicine teaches that goji help to support the work of adrenal glands and kidneys therefore providing more energy, endurance, strength, sexual energy, immunity, and longevity to the lucky eater!
Goji berries also help to alkalyze the system. They are supposed to be outstanding for building and maintaining general vitality on every level, as well as being a general anti-oxidant. Goji berries are said to boost Human Growth Hormone (HGH) production, which helps to retain youthfulness. They are anti-inflammatory and stimulate the pituitary and pineal glands, increasing glandular production of HGH. Gojis contain the anti-oxidants in high concentrations, and boast cancer-fighting properties. They help with choline production, as an essential brain, memory, and nervous system nutrient that combats free radical damage linked to neurological degeneration and Alzheimer’s disease. Gojis also combat oxidized cholesterol, which causes heart disease. The berry detoxifies the liver and guards against liver damage from carcinogens and hepatitis.
All this research convinced me to try to include a handful of goji berries every day. So far I love goji and cacao combo for smoothies and can’t stop eating my new creation – an almond and goji berry cake. You may also soak goji berries in water or add the berries to your herbal tea blend.
Almond and Goji cake recipe was inspired by a wonderful Elana from the Elana’s Pantry. I added some chia seeds for extra fiber, coconut flakes for texture, sunflower seeds, and infused some some vanilla, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Gotta take care of that digestion fire 😉
Almond and Goji Cake
- 1 cup almond flour (Bob’s Mills)
- 2 tbs coconut flour (Bob’s Mills)
- 2 tbsp ground flax seeds
- 2 tbsp coconut flakes
- 3 tbs raw sunflower seeds (optional)
- 2 tbsp chia seeds
- ¼ teaspoon celtic sea salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons Coconut Crystals (I used Coconut Secrets brand; you can also do agave)
- ¼ teaspoon Stevia
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup goji berries, soaked in ¼ cup boiling water to plump
- ½ cup dark vegan chocolate chips
- Vanilla, cinnamon, ground up dried ginger, nutmeg to taste
- In a large bowl, combine almond flour, coconut flour, flax meal, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut flakes, salt and baking soda
- Blend in coconut sugar, stevia and eggs with a folk (exercise those arms! 🙂 )
- Mix in gojis with soak water and chocolate chips with a large spoon
- Spread mixture into an 8X8 baking dish, it will be about an inch thick
- Bake at 350° for 15 minutes
- Cut into squares and serve
Have you tried goji? How do you eat them? Let me know!
Lots of smiles!