10 Super Foods Nutritionists Keep In Their Kitchens
Trying to build a healthful diet with an empty kitchen is the same as trying to build a house without a hammer and nails. You may be able to pull it off, but it is going to be difficult, stressful, and if the wind doesn’t blow just right, you’ll probably fall over! Instead, try stocking your kitchen with healthy super foods, and you will never be too far away from a delicious, healthy meal.
Quinoa is a grain-like food that is native to South and Central America. It has a similar texture to couscous, but has a slightly nuttier flavor. I love it because it is as easy to prepare as rice, but it contains all the essential amino acids, making it a complete plant-based protein! Quinoa can be used as a great rice substitute for stir-fry’s, I also like to add it to my salads, or even combine it with milk and cinnamon to make a filling oatmeal-like breakfast quinoa.
When I’m stocking my kitchen I think of two things. First, what am I going to eat if everything goes as planned this week? Second, what am I going to eat if NOTHING goes as planned! Sometimes life gets busy and it’s important to have a back-up. That’s why I always keep frozen veggies on hand. I can throw them into a quick stir-fry, with my quinoa, or sauté them with some eggs in the morning. Frozen veggies are also packed with vitamins and minerals because they are flashed frozen immediately after harvest, when food is most nutritious!
Green tea has been used as a super food for over 4,000 years. Recent studies have shown it demonstrates powerful antioxidant, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and anticavity properties. So that means it’s good for your heart and your teeth! You can enjoy green tea hot or iced; I also like to sneak it into my day by using it as a base to my morning smoothie.
A recent Harvard study found that eating a handful of nuts everyday reduced the deaths from heart disease, the leading cause of death in America, by 29%! Moreover, the participants who ate nuts were also found to be leaner. Nuts are a great addition to your oatmeal or salads. You can also make healthy homemade trail mix and for a filling snack to eat on the go.
Coconut Oil has been receiving a lot of press recently because of its multiple health benefits. It has been shown to have a positive impact on blood sugar and hormone function. However, the main reason I use it is because it can withstand higher temperatures, which makes it great for sautéing or baking.
If something this stinky has been around for this long, it must be really good for you! Garlic is a simple and delicious way to add flavor to any dish, without added sodium or sauces. It also is a powerful way to kick up your immune system during cold and flu season! Some studies show that using raw garlic is even more beneficial to your immune system. So if you feel a cold coming on, make a pesto sauce with plenty of raw garlic and use it as a spread for your sandwiches, or a topping for fresh fish.
Lemons help clean out the liver and are high in vitamin C. What you will notice is clearer skin, and potentially less wrinkles – who doesn’t want that? Try starting each day with 1 cup of room temperature water and the juice from ½ of a fresh lemon. You can also use fresh squeezed lemon as a salad dressing or as a marinade for chicken.
Scientists at the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) National Institute on Aging developed the ORAC scale to measure the antioxidant values of foods. According to the NIH, antioxidants neutralize free radicals and slow down the aging process. Kale is considered to be the vegetable superstar of the ORAC scale, blowing all other vegetables out of the water! It has also been called the “new beef” because of its high iron content; just 1 cup has over 10% of the RDA of Omega-3 fatty acids. So yes, it’s pretty great! You can add kale to salads, smoothies, or lightly sauté it with lemon and garlic. If you find it tough to eat on its own, try massaging it with a little bit of olive oil and sprinkle on some parmesan cheese. The olive oil will soften the leaf and cut the bitter taste.
Ginger is my absolute favorite! I love it even more than the last one on this list (if you can believe that!). It boosts your immune system, so I add it to my smoothie every morning during cold and flu season. It is also fights bad bacteria and can soothe a stomach ache. This is why it is served with sushi and other raw fish! You can sprinkle it on your oatmeal, sauté it with veggies, or boil it with some warm water for a soothing ginger tea.
Dark chocolate is high in polyphenols, which is associated with improved cardiovascular health. However, that is not the reason that I have it in my kitchen. Enjoying food is a part of enjoying life! Finding pleasure in what you do and what you eat reduces stress, increases your mood, and makes life worth living. Make sure that you are not only looking at food for the health benefits to your body, but also the joy it brings to your day. Enjoy!