What is Spirulina?


Its deep emerald color is one clue that spirulina is one of nature's gems. As this ingredient grows in popularity for its nutritional benefits, more of us are asking, "What is spirulina, anyway?"

Spirulina is the common name for two species of cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae. Many consider this microscopic plant nature's most powerful "green" food — it's one of the highest and most digestible sources of protein known. Once a staple food of the Aztecs, this dark green powder is now cultivated throughout the world. However, with a strong, grassy, sea flavor that easily overpowers other ingredients, working spirulina into your diet can be a challenge.

How to use spirulina

Unless you're filling your own capsules and taking as a supplement (or mixing it straight into a glass of water), you need ways to incorporate spirulina into everyday foods that are familiar to the palette and easy to prepare. Many people add a few teaspoons to a few tablespoons of spriulina to their smoothies and green juices, including fruit to moderate spirulina's strong flavor.

The two recipes below don't contain the same levels of spirulina that you would take in supplement form, but will help you start incorporating spirulina into your everyday diet. Once you are familiar with spirulina's flavor, be adventurous — try adding it to meatballs, hummus or even brownies!

Spirulina Green Guacamole

Boost the nutrition and deep green color of creamy avocados with the addition of spirulina in this fresh guacamole recipe. Earthy cumin, fragrant Mexican oregano and spicy crushed red pepper flakes balance spirulina's strong flavor.

Spirulina and Nutritional Yeast Seasoning

Nutritional yeast and spirulina powder beat plain old salt and pepper in seasoning power and flavor, not to mention nutritional punch. Use to add grassy, nutty and slightly cheesy flavor with a hint of heat to kale chips, popcorn, steamed vegetables, baked potatoes and more.

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