By Jeanette Kimszal, RDN, NLC
You know the saying “you are what you eat?” Your body is a machine that needs to be fueled throughout the day. If you are not feeding it foods high in nutrients you will find yourself lagging with no energy. One way to combat this is to incorporate nutrient rich foods that will give you the most bang for your buck. Here are my 5 favorite superfoods that you can easily add to your diet.
I have been loving arugula lately. Also known as “rocket”, it has a spicy taste that is different from other greens. Arugula is a powerhouse food because it is full of antioxidants that will fight inflammation. In my experience it also tends to not go bad as quickly as kale, spinach, or other mixed lettuces. If you are tired of kale give arugula a try. It’s got a little spicy kick that will liven up your meals. Plus it contains mainly healthy nutrients:
- It contains the compound glucosinolate which is an anti-carcinogen. It may help protect you from cancer.
- The high vitamin K consistency is good for your heart, bones, and skin. This helps regulate your calcium to stay in your bones.
- The lutein and zeaxanthin in arugula improves your sight. Like carrots and pumpkins, arugula has beta-carotene and vitamin C which is good for your collagen production in your skin.
- It is high in fiber which will help fill you up in a healthy way.
- It has folate which is needed for good circulation and energy production in your cells.
- It is high in calcium, magnesium, potassium, manganese, phosphorus and iron. These are important for blood pressure regulation as well as getting enough oxygen to your organs.
- The chlorophyll found in this plant will help improve your energy levels.
Add it to your salad, soup, or just bake or sauté it with garlic or your favorite spices. Try my seasoned arugula recipe: http://jeanettekimszal.com/seasoned-baked-arugula/
This fruit packs a punch with all the nutrients it provides. It is a great source for healthy fat and gives you a rich creamy taste that can be paired with so many dishes. It is a powerhouse of fiber, vitamins, and minerals to keep you full and satisfied. Avocados are a good source of pantothenic acid, dietary fiber, vitamin K, copper, folate, vitamin B6, potassium, vitamin E, and vitamin C. These nutrients improve everything from heart health to lowering your triglycerides and bad LDL cholesterol. I like to say “half an avocado a day keeps the doctor away.” Use it as a cheese substitute in your salads or soups or a mayonnaise substitute on sandwiches or in egg and chicken salad. Make it for breakfast by baking an egg inside or even make an ice cream or pudding for a healthy treat.
Hemp is a plant that gives you a boost of fiber and protein. If you are lacking protein in your diet adding this superfood will give you the energy you need. It contains all the essential amino acids our bodies need to thrive. It also offers omega-3 and fatty acids. So it is a protein but also a fat source making it a complete food. It helps to serve a variety of functions in the body helping to create cells, tissues, and body organs. Protein is needed for so many systems and most diets are lacking in it. This is a great way to add more protein to your diet especially if you are a vegetarian or vegan. It contains 10 grams of protein in just 2 tablespoons. It also has fiber and the minerals magnesium, zinc, and iron which our bodies need to function optimally. It comes in a powder or seed form. Add the seeds to your yogurt, oatmeal, salad dressings or take the powder and add a scoop to your favorite smoothie and juice recipes.
Chia seeds are derived from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family. These are also the seeds that used to be grown as green pets back in the 80s. Remember the commercial “Chi-chi-chia!”? They have a good source of fiber, protein, and fat. They contain 18% omega-3 fatty acids and 24% fiber. We know omega-3 and fiber are great for your heart, brain, and digestive health. They also have a good amount of protein which we need for energy production. These tiny seeds even have many of the needed minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc. Adding them to your diet is super easy. Drop some in your yogurt, oatmeal, salad dressings or add them to your favorite recipes to get some extra protein and fiber. I like to use it in my breads and muffin recipes. Are you vegan? Use them as a substitute for eggs in recipes.
Try my chia seed egg recipe: http://jeanettekimszal.com/have-you-tried-a-chia-egg
I also recently made a sugar free chocolate pudding out of them: http://jeanettekimszal.com/chia-chocolate-coconut-peppermint-pudding/
Shopping for veggies in the winter can be tough with the limited selection of in season produce available. One veggie still in season that is a great addition to your diet is the sweet potato. This complex carb is a great starch to incorporate into your diet and has a lot of essential nutrients like beta carotene. It also has vitamin B-6, vitamin C, fiber, potassium. These nutrients will fuel your cells and help you feel your best. These can be used in so many different ways. Make a sweet potato hash for breakfast, bake them in a bread, turn them into toast, add them to your favorite soup, or spiral them into veggie noodles for dinner. I like to make potato pancakes with them.
Try my mini sweet potato pancakes recipe at http://jeanettekimszal.com/mini-sweet-potato-pancakes/.
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