Have you heard of adaptogens yet? The Wellness community has been buzzing about them for a few years now but like many things that seem "new" in health and wellness, adaptogens have been used for thousands of years by ancient healing practices like Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Maybe you've heard of maca (great for hormonal balance), lion's mane mushrooms (good for clearing brain fog) or ginseng (excellent for boosting immunity) but not known that they are adaptogens. The term "adaptogen" was actually coined by a Russian scientist in 1947 after studying eleuthero root (aka Siberian ginseng) and other herbs that helped the body adapt to physical and emotional stress.
I'm a little bit obsessed after using them for the last year and really noticing a difference in my energy levels (up) and my stress levels (down). I started by adding them to my morning matcha and now find ways to incorporate them into my day in other ways as well. Even my husband is smitten and insists that he is more productive when he adds adaptogens to his bulletproof coffee. Our favorites are ashwaganda (for anxiety and insomnia), a blend of adaptogenic mushrooms and he shou wu (also known as Fo-Ti and translated as "Mr. He's black hair", it is anti-aging and a blood tonifier).
Adaptogens are natural substances (things like herbs, mushrooms and roots) that help nourish the body and nudge it back towards balance. They are like a tonic for the system (in fact they are sometimes referred to as "tonic herbs") and they can help us cope with all the crap that life throws at us on a daily basis. They help our bodies stay more balanced and lessen the effect of stress on our hormones and immune system, which helps lower inflammation and boost immunity. They can help us sleep better, think more clearly and generally just cope better - and who doesn't want that?!
Adaptogens must fulfill 3 criteria to earn the official label:
- Be generally safe and non-toxic (for just about everyone).
- Help you handle stress (which can sometimes be multiple stressors - simultaneously)
- Work to balance your hormones. Adaptogens have a normalizing effect. They sense the highs and lows of your body and help it adjust and adapt as needed.
You can find adaptogens in powder form, capsules and tinctures and you can also find them already mixed into some brands of coffee, hot chocolate and tea, like the kind from Four Sigmatic.
It’s important to note that some adaptogens can interact with certain medications, so if you are concerned I recommend consulting with your doctor or pharmacist before use. If you're pregnant or breastfeeding you should also check with your provider. Be sure to get your adaptogens from a reliable source, since herbs and supplements are not regulated by the USDA or FDA. My favorite brands are Sun Potion, Four Sigmatic and Navitas Organics. They can range in price but think of them as an investment in your health which is the best possible investment out there.
Adaptogens can be added to everything from your morning coffee or your breakfast smoothie to baked goods and treats like these super simple Adaptogenic Bliss Balls. I made these for a Valentine's Day workshop at The Riveter and they were a big hit. After I dipped them in melted chocolate I gave them a sprinkle of either bee pollen (adds a nice crunch as well a hit of anti-inflammatory immune boosting) or beet powder (beautiful color and extra Vitamin C). You could also use cacao powder, shredded coconut or chopped pistachios for more yumminess.
Audaciously Adaptogenic Bliss Balls
Prep time: 10 minutes Servings: 18-20 balls
- 1 cup medjool dates (about 10), pitted
- 1 cup of cashews or almonds, unsalted (toasted adds a nice flavor but isn't necessary).
- 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 1/4 cup raw cacao powder
- 1 tablespoon adaptogenic mushrooms (I like the 10 mushroom blend from Four Sigmatic but you could use any kind)
- 1 tablespoon maca or he shou wu
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Big pinch of sea salt
- Melted chocolate for dipping (use chocolate that's at least 70% cacao)
- bee pollen, beet powder, cacao powder or shredded coconut for additional texture, flavor and superfood power!
- Optional: a few drops of food grade peppermint essential oil (I prefer doTERRA brand) added either into the bliss balls OR the melted chocolate.
Add all the ingredients to a food processor and process until well combined. This could take a couple of minutes. Then, using your hands, roll the contents into small balls, roughly the size of a tablespoon. Put the balls on a plate and chill in the fridge or freezer for about 30 minutes. You can enjoy them as is or dip them in melted chocolate and chill for another 30 minutes. They should last for about a week in the fridge and about a month in the freezer.
Note: There are lots of options for melting chocolate at home. My favorite way is to use Theo’s Baking chocolate and melt it in a makeshift double boiler on my stove. I combine equal parts 70% and 85% cacao and it’s the perfect amount of dark.