Must have foods for the New Year
Alana Sugar wrote an article about her Top 10 foods that needs to be incorporated into our diet. Some of the items include quinoa, blueberries, nuts and beans. You can read her entire blog list here – it’s a great read!
I wasn’t surprised to read that most of her foods were on my same list of favorites. Here are some of them that I try to incorporate more of on a daily and weekly basis.
I love Quinoa! By far the best food around! Sadly, I find that too many people are not aware of this super-seed – it’s a shame! It has eight essential amino acids and is considered a complete protein. It also delivers fiber, iron, magnesium, calcium and vitamins A and E – making it a staple food in vegetarian, vegan and gluten free diets. It makes a wonderful side dish and a main dish for any meal. With a nutty flavor and a slight crunchy texture, quinoa so versatile you can pair it with any meat or vegetable combo.
If you have not tried quinoa yet now is the time! You can find it in any health food store, as well as the organic and bilk section at your regular market. I buy mine at Costco as I can get a HUGE bag! Just make sure you rinse the seed prior to cooking it – if not it will taste bitter.
Avocado’s have been given a bad name by some for their fat content. But this is why avocados are so healthy for us! They contain large amounts of monounsaturated fat which is “the good fat” for humans, especially for women. They also reduce LDL cholesterol, which is the harmful kind, and increase HDL, good cholesterol. Their creamy texture and delicious taste pairs well with so many items! Eat them sliced, diced or smashed! I toss them in my salads, top my eggs with them, smash them on veggie sandwiches and enjoy them plain.
Beans and Lentils
No wonder beans are named the Magical Fruit. They have a high amount of soluble fiber making this an ideal staple food for those that do not eat meat. They also deliver B vitamins such as folic acid, and minerals such as magnesium, potassium, calcium and iron – very important for pregnant and nursing women. They are used for meat substitutes, dips and as a binder in recipes, even desserts! Looking for a great vegan veggie burger? Try my Bean Burgers!
Nuts are a great source of fiber, Omega fats and over all a perfect food. High in vitamins and nutrients, nuts pack a full punch of sustainable energy and nutrition. Walnuts are known to have the highest amount of good fat, omega 3’s. I buy raw nuts in bulk – almonds, cashews, pine nuts, pecans and walnuts. But because nuts are tightly packed with nutrients and fat, they are still calorie loaded you only need a small amount to benefit from their nutrients. Go with a handful or about a 1/4 cup. But be careful of pre-packaged nuts as they can have a high amount of sodium. Try them in salads, oatmeal, pancakes, baked goods, cereal, granola, with steamed or roasted vegetables… the ideas are endless! Or simply have a handful with a piece of fruit for a snack that will curb the mid-day munchies.
Spinach, kale, mustard greens, chard, broccoli … any green plant is a must have in my diet! Dark green leafy vegetables are, calorie for calorie, perhaps the most concentrated source of nutrition of any food. They are a rich source of minerals (including iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium) and vitamins, including vitamins K, C, E, and many of the B vitamins. They also provide a variety of phytonutrients including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which protect our cells from damage and our eyes from age-related problems, among many other effects. Plus they taste great and versatile. Steamed, cooked in soups and stews, blended and roasted. Americans do not incorporate enough greens in their diet, besides iceberg lettuce (which has near to zero nutrients). Greens need to be part of our daily diets as they contain so many of the essential nutrients our body depends on.
Our health is based on nutrition – we are what we eat. Be conscious about what you are feeding your body; eat a variety of plant based foods, limiting your intake of processed. Mother Earth created plants for a reason. Enjoy them!
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