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    Ask the Chef: Building Muscle

    By Julie Morris, Navitas Organics Executive Chef | June 10, 2014

    Q: I'm working out more and looking to build muscle. Any healthy superfood tips or recipes?

    Hemp Protein: For an easy protein boost with plenty of fiber and antioxidants to boot, try Hemp Protein Powder, which is made from nutrient-dense hemp seeds. With 50% protein, this easily digestible powder is one of the richest plant-based protein sources you can find. The protein contained in this powder is incredibly similar to and compatible with the protein that your body naturally makes on its own. Since your body benefits from large amounts of protein the most after exercise to repair your muscles, I highly recommend making a protein-dense smoothie after your workout, such as this delicious Vanilla Almond Smoothie. And, let's not forget that the whole Hemp Seeds, while not quite as dense, are still a wonderful way to add in additional protein (sprinkle them on absolutely anything - they're soft and taste a little like sunflower seeds!).

    Muscle-Building Nuts and Seeds: Nuts and seeds may be tiny, but these little guys pack a powerful punch! For example, one ounce of cashews has 5 grams of protein, and one ounce of almonds has 6 grams of protein. Pepitas, which are also called pumpkin seeds, contain 5 grams of protein as well. Each of these foods contains iron, which is vital to muscle development and helps repair muscle fibers after they're strained. They also contain magnesium, which promotes bone strength and protects your bones from losing density as you age.

    Nuts and seeds make a great snack during the day, while you're traveling, and also when sprinkled on top of your favorite dishes to give them a flavorful crunch. For a protein-rich treat on-the-go, I recommend making a batch of Green Energy Bars, which contain a generous portion of both hemp seeds and cashews. Or try any of the delicious new Superfood+ line for an irresistible ready-made snack!

    Muscle-Building Berries: Although you might not realize it, some berries are packed with protein too! Goji berries have about 4 grams of protein in every ounce, as well as lots of amino acids vitamin A. Goldenberries are also high in protein, plus have lots of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients that speed recovery time and protect your body from illness.

    One ounce of dried mulberries have about 3 grams of protein, and they're also packed with iron and calcium to boost your strength and physical stamina. If you're looking for healthy lunch options, try a delicious Mizuna Salad with fennel seeds and mulberries or a Chinese Chop Salad with goldenberries, cashews, almonds, and yacon syrup.

    For best results, incorporate healthy snacks often, and try to spread your protein intake out during the day so your muscles can synthesize it most efficiently (recent research from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and the Journal of the American Dietetic Association suggests that you should limit your protein intake to 20 grams per sitting). This way, you'll have the energy you need for your workouts and your metabolism will stay active throughout the day. Here's to reaching above and beyond your fitness goals with superfoods!