Tastier than a deep-fried Cronut… more nutritious than a bucket of kale… it’s a Superfood! Though many nutritionists disclaim the notion of “superfoods” altogether, there’s no denying that some foods pack an extra nutritional bang for the caloric buck. High in vitamins, minerals, or other essential components, these foods are a great way to boost your overall nutrient intake and liven up your meals.
Many of these usual suspects—blueberries, fresh salmon, and watermelon, just to mention a few—are inexpensive and easy to find in the summer, but may be scarce (not to mention budget-busting) in the winter. We’ve combed through grocery aisles and produce stands to find the best in-season foods that combine great nutritional profiles with versatility and just plain great taste. Add one or more of these super-healthy choices to your “to-eat” list today.
Green tea. It may be more of a super-drink than a superfood, but green tea’s benefits make it well worth adding a few cups a day to your diet. It’s rich in antioxidants, calorie-free, and lower in caffeine than black tea or coffee. Recent studies suggest that the polyphenols it contains may help curb the decrease in metabolic rate that usually occurs during weight loss, making it easier to maintain a lower body weight. It may even help improve insulin sensitivity and ward off diabetes. In addition to sipping three to four cups a day, try simmering oatmeal in green tea for a double nutritional punch.
Great Source: teavana.com
Kiwifruit. Their name evidences their New Zealand origin, but most kiwis you’ll find in the U.S. market are grown much closer to home. They mature in California orchards from October through May, making them a welcome fruity addition to a seasonal diet. Just one average-sized kiwi offers nearly 130% of the daily requirement of Vitamin C. Plus, adding kiwis to your diet may cut down on seasonal sniffles as well; one recent study showed that schoolchildren who ate kiwi regularly had a lower rate of respiratory problems such as coughing and wheezing than those who didn’t consume the fruit. Besides eating kiwis out of hand, try adding them to smoothies or green juice concoctions.
Great Source: kiwifruit.org
Almonds. A handful of almonds makes a simple, filling snack. But with recent studies confirming that almonds can help reduce dangerous low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C) in healthy individuals as well as people with high cholesterol or diabetes, it’s worth seeking out even more ways to enjoy almonds’ great taste and nutritional benefits. Try spreading almond butter on whole-grain crackers, tossing a green salad with an an almond oil vinaigrette, or using almond flour to make gluten-free baked goodies (like the Breakfast Muffin recipe on the next page).
Great Source: maranatha.com
Brussels sprouts. Cruciferous vegetables (think broccoli, cabbage, and kale) are a family of nutritional powerhouses. But Brussels sprouts have a nutrient profile—and a sweet, nutty taste when cooked correctly—that stands out from the crowd. Not only are they a great source of Vitamin C, like most other crucifers, but they also offer nearly a quarter of your daily requirement of folic acid and a surprisingly high dose of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Think you’re a sprouts-hater? Skip bland steamed preparations and try them roasted or shredded and tossed with a citrus vinaigrette instead.
Great Source: bonnieplants.com
Sea vegetables. You may know them as “seaweed,” but this diverse and delicious group of veggies deserves a more appealing name. From mild-flavored nori (typically wrapped around sushi rolls) to bold, chewy kombu, sea vegetables offer a great way to add healthy variety to your diet. They’re higher in minerals and trace elements than most other plant foods, including iodine—a bonus if you use kosher or sea salt instead of iodized table salt. However, there’s concern that some varieties may be contaminated with heavy metals or even radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Look for products harvested along U.S. coasts or sourced from reputable suppliers to play it safe. To add sea vegetables to your diet, try simmering kombu with seasonings to make a rich base for Japanese soups. Or, try a wakame salad (see recipe on next page) and the classic Japanese table seasoning furikake, which blends flakes of dried nori with sesame seeds and a dash of salt.
Great Source: edenfoods.com
Bison, grass-fed. Craving a little meat with your veggies? Look no further than all-American bison for a lean, high-protein option that’s a simple substitution in any recipe calling for beef. Grass-fed bison meat is low in calories and cholesterol, and it boasts a favorable ratio of healthy omega-3 to dangerous omega-6 fatty acids. But beware inflated nutrition claims: Fatty cuts of bison or animals that have been finished in feedlots instead of spending their lives in grassy pastures are no healthier than their cattle counterparts. Tender bison cuts, such as sirloin and prime rib, are great simply grilled. For tougher cuts, such as the top round or chuck roast, try a 24-hour acidic marinade or a long, slow cooking method such as braising to boost tenderness and maximize flavor.
Great Source: bisoncentral.com
Almond Flour Breakfast Muffins
Start your day on the right foot with these hearty, not-too-sweet treats. They’re gluten-free and rich in protein, too. Vary the flavor by using pumpkin or squash puree instead of applesauce.
- 2.5 cups almond flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp kosher or sea salt
- 3 large eggs
- 1/3 cup applesauce
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 2 Tbsp melted coconut oil, almond oil, or vegetable oil
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tin with paper liners.
Stir together almond flour, baking soda, and sea salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, applesauce, honey, oil, and vinegar. Gradually add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, stirring just enough to combine (a few lumps are OK).
Spoon batter evenly into muffin cups. Bake for 15–20 minutes, or until muffins are lightly browned and completely set. Remove from tin and cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes before serving.
This light, refreshing salad is a perfect introduction to cooking with sea vegetables. Don’t forget to rinse wakame and rehydrate by soaking in cool water for 5–10 minutes before proceeding with recipe.
- 1 cucumber, peeled if waxed, thinly sliced
- 1-1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt, divided
- 2 to 3 ounces dried wakame, rehydrated, drained, and chopped
- 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1 Tbsp sugar or agave nectar
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
To crisp cucumber and prevent weeping, sprinkle cucumbers with 1 tsp salt. Place in colander and set over bowl or sink to drain for at least 30 minutes. Rinse and lightly pat dry.
Stir together vinegar, sugar, pepper flakes, and remaining salt. Lightly toss cucumber and wakame. Drizzle with dressing.