There has been much buzz about different “superfoods” you can add to your and your child’s diet. Two of these are chlorella and spirulina, which are often confused with each other. Learn more about the separate qualities and benefits of these much-talked-about algae, and how you can incorporate them into your child’s diet.
Unlocking the Chlorella Potential
Belonging to the phylum Chlorophyta, chlorella is a type of single-cell green algae that grows in freshwater. It contains chlorophyll-a and chlorophyll-b, and it easily multiples with water and sunlight exposure.
Chlorella is among most heavily researched and used algae in the world, with thousands of research papers and studies investigating its potential benefits. NASA, at one time, even earmarked it to be grown on the international space station. Today it can be obtained as a green food-based supplement, and it is also available in many health food stores in powder form that can be added to food and drinks.
What you must know is that the cell wall surrounding chlorella is indigestible. This means that it has to be broken in order for you or your child to reap the benefits of its nutrients. This makes broken cell wall chlorella the recommended form, as very little nutrient power is wasted in it.
Spirulina the Superfood
Chlorella, though, is not the only algae worthy of attention, as there are more than 40,000 different varieties of these single-celled organisms. One that has managed to stand out is spirulina, a freshwater blue-green algae similar in makeup and composition to sea vegetables such as chlorella, dulse, kelp, nori, kombu, arame, and wakame.
Like chlorella, spirulina has also gained international focus due to its rich nutrient profile and highly available, abundant protein (the quality of which has been shown to rival those of the best protein sources, including milk, eggs, and beef). In fact, it has been identified by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization as a potential tool in the war against widespread malnutrition around the world.
Additionally, spirulina is among the highest sources of phytopigments, such as phycocyanin (which gives the algae’s natural bluish tint), beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and other plant pigments.
Chlorella and Spirulina Recipes for Your Kid’s Taste Test
Children, though, prove to be picky eaters. They will normally refuse anything outside of their dietary “comfort zone,” e.g. grains and sweets in the standard American diet. But you can get creative – sneak chlorella and spirulina into their food and beverages!
Here are simple, easy-to-do recipes for you to get started:
- 1/2 cup raw liquid honey (maple syrup for vegans)
- 1 to 3 teaspoons chlorella
- 2 to 4 tablespoons raw tahini
- Place honey in a bowl and whisk in chlorella until thoroughly combined.
- Add the tahini, one tablespoon at a time, and whisk. Add as much tahini as you like, but the cream tends to become a bit solid if there is too much.
- Store this chlorella cream in the refrigerator, either in a squeeze bottle or in a glass jar. Add it to fruit/vegetable salads and other foods your child loves.
- 2 cups raw milk
- 5 tablespoons chia seeds
- 2/3 cup rolled or gluten-free oats
- 2 small apples, pits removed
- 2 to 3 pitted dates
- 2 tablespoons almond butter or large handful of raw almonds
- 1 tablespoon spirulina power or 2 spirulina tablets
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 banana, sliced
- In the evening, put the chia seeds, oats, and milk in a large bowl. Mix and set aside.
- Next morning, blend the apples and the dates until the mixture resembles applesauce. If using raw almonds, blend them with apples and dates until smooth. If using spirulina pills, blend them with the apple/almond mixture as well. Add the apple-almond mixture to the chia/oat mixture. If using nut butter, just mix in. Mix in spirulina powder and cinnamon.
- Serve with banana slices on top.
Katrina Pascual writes for Mercola.com. She has started exploring the use of chlorella and spirulina – along with other raw, organic, wholesome ingredients – in the kitchen.