Supercharge Your Diet with Super-foods
What if there was a magic pill you could take to help you stay healthy, fight disease, manage your weight, and possibly live longer? Most people would purchase a lifetime supply! While such a pill does not exist, strong evidence suggests that eating a healthy diet that incorporates 'super-foods' can have the same effects.
A 'super-food' is defined as a food with a high phytonutrient content that provides disease-fighting and health-protecting qualities.
While many people have heard of super-foods, they don't necessarily know how to go about incorporating them into their daily life. Here you will find a list of several super-foods along with easy, tasty recipes to help you include them in your diet.
Avocados are an excellent source of iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, and phosphorous.
Recipe: Strawberry Avocado Salsa
1 cup finely chopped strawberries
1/4 cup finely chopped peeled avocado
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon grated lime rind
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons finely chopped seeded jalapeño pepper
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl; toss gently. Serve immediately.
Source: Cooking Light
Blueberries provide many antioxidants, vitamins A and C.
Recipe: Heavenly Blueberry Smoothie
1 frozen banana, thawed for 10 to 15 minutes
1/2 cup vanilla soy milk
1 cup vanilla fat-free yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons flax seed meal
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
2/3 cup frozen blueberries
- Cut banana into small pieces and place in blender. Add the soy milk, yogurt, flax seed meal, and honey.
- Blend on lowest speed until smooth, about 5 seconds. Gradually add the blueberries while continuing to blend on low.
- Once the blueberries have been incorporated, increase speed, and blend to desired consistency.
Beans, such as black beans, kidney beans, and pinto beans, are an excellent source of protein. They are also a good source of iron, essential B vitamins, and fiber. They are cholesterol free and low in fat.
Recipe: Best Black Beans
1 (15-ounce) can, no-salt added black beans
1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes with chiles in sauce
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1/2 cup frozen chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Stir thoroughly.
- Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Place in a serving dish and serve hot.
Source: Food Network
Broccoli is rich in cancer-fighting nutrients such as folate, fiber, calcium, ascorbic acid and polyphenols.
Recipe: Broccoli Salad with Creamy Feta Dressing
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
8 ounces broccoli crowns, trimmed and finely chopped (about 3 cups)
17-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
- Whisk feta, yogurt, lemon juice, garlic and pepper in a medium bowl until combined.
- Add broccoli, chickpeas and bell pepper; toss to coat. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
Oats are an excellent source of dietary fiber, which is important for digestion. They are known to help reduce cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease.
Recipe: Whole-Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes
3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons well-shaken buttermilk, divided
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
- Soak oats in 3/4 cup buttermilk for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl.
- Stir egg, butter, brown sugar, remaining 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk, and oat mixture into dry ingredients until just combined.
- Heat a griddle over medium heat until hot and lightly brush with oil.
- Working in batches, pour 1/4 cup batter per pancake onto griddle and cook until bubbles appear on surface and undersides are golden-brown, about 1 minute. Flip with a spatula and cook other side, about 1 minute more. (Lightly oil griddle between batches.)
Spinach is rich in iron, calcium, folate, and vitamin A. Spinach helps maintain bone health, assists in red blood cell production, and helps regulate the heart.
Recipe: Simple Sauteed Spinach
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
20 ounces fresh spinach
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- Heat oil in a Dutch oven (cast-iron pot) over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until beginning to brown, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add spinach and toss to coat.
- Cover and cook until wilted, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and add lemon juice, salt and crushed red pepper. Toss to coat and serve immediately.
Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene and antioxidants.
Recipe: Baked Sweet Potatoes
6 medium sweet potatoes, unpeeled
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- Heat oven to 400° F. Pierce each sweet potato several times with the tines of a fork.
- Place the sweet potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil.
- Bake until tender, about 45 minutes.
- Make a slit in the top of each sweet potato. Top with 1 tablespoon of butter and season with the salt and pepper.
Wild salmon is rich is omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon can help reduce heart disease and improve circulatory health.
Recipe: Marinated Wild Salmon
4 salmon fillets
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- Season fillets with salt and pepper, onion powder, and red pepper flakes. Set aside in a baking dish.
- In a medium bowl, mix together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, balsamic vinegar, sugar, green onions, and cilantro. Pour marinade over salmon; cover, and refrigerate overnight, or at least 6 hours.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).
- Arrange salmon on a broiling sheet. Place in a preheated oven, and bake for 5 minutes. Increase heat to 500 degrees F (260 degrees C), turn fillets, and broil 5 minutes more.
Tomatoes are very high in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant shown to help stimulate the immune system and protect against certain cancers, especially prostate.
Recipe: Fresh Tomato Salsa
2-3 medium sized fresh tomatoes (from 1 lb to 1 1/2 lb), stems removed, finely diced
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1 jalapeño chili pepper (stems, ribs, seeds removed), finely diced
1 serano chili pepper (stems, ribs, seeds removed), finely diced
Juice of one lime
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: oregano and or cumin to taste
- Chop the tomatoes.
- Prepare the chilies. Be very careful while handling these hot peppers. If you can, avoid touching them with your hands. Use a fork to cut up the chilies over a small plate, or use a paper towel to protect your hands. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water after handling, and avoid touching your eyes for several hours. Set aside some of the seeds from the peppers. If the salsa isn't hot enough, you can add a few for heat.
- Combine all of the ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Taste. If the chilies make the salsa too hot, add some more chopped tomato. If not hot enough, carefully add a few of the seeds from the chilies, or add some ground cumin.
- Let sit for an hour for the flavors to combine.
Nuts (walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, macadamia nuts)
Nuts are high in monounsaturated fats. In addition, nuts can help to lower cholesterol. Nuts are high in calories, so limit yourself to about an ounce a day (about what fits in the palm of your hand with your hand open flat).
Recipe: Walnut Trail Mix
2 cups California Walnut halves
1 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1 cup banana chips
1/2 cup goji or acai berries (optional)
- Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Arrange walnuts in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet.
- Bake in the center of oven until fragrant and toasted, about 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool.
- In a large container, combine toasted walnuts with pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, apricots, banana chips and acai berries (if using). You can store in an air-tight container for up to 5 days.