Friday, September 6, 2013

Super & Delicious Foods to Live By

A friend sent me a list of some super foods that we often overlook but should incorporate into our daily meals; you don't have to eat all of them every single day but include them as often as you can. I have added a few of my own to the list. Check out the following good for you as well as good tasting foods with suggestions on how to include them in your diet. Enjoy!!
  1. ARTICHOKES: Low in calories, high in fiber, artichokes are an anti-oxidant food and also good sources of many vitamins and minerals. Try them whole steamed, the hearts in salads, stir-fry, risotto, and dips.
  2. AVOCADO: Amazingly delicious, creamy and smooth, avocados are anti-inflammatory and a fantastic source of fiber, beneficial fats, carotenoids, Vitamins B5, K, & C, and easily digestible protein.  Serve them in the shell, in salads, dips, sandwiches. Try guacamole or avocado salsa - yum!
  3. BARLEY: A wonderful grain highly prized for its many qualities, it has been eaten by humans since antiquity. Enjoy in salads, pongal, risotto, soups, & breads.
  4. BEETS: Think of beets as red spinach :); they are a rich source of folate as well as natural red pigments that may be cancer fighters. Enjoy fresh, raw, grated in a salad as heating decreases the antioxidant power. For cooked dishes, see Thoran, Bruschetta or this super snack.
  5. BERRIES (fresh and frozen): Berries pack a lot in little packages. Although blueberries lead with their high content of antioxidants, other berries also are good sources of antioxidants and phytonutrients. Even though freezing can degrade some of the nutrients in fruits and vegetables, frozen blueberries are available year-round; they are associated with better memory in animal studies. Eat them plain, with cereal, in baked goods, in desserts, blended with yogurt for delicious lassi, in smoothies, or in a berry sauce for pancakes.
  6. CABBAGE (Red and Green): Loaded with nutrients like sulforaphane, a chemical said to boost cancer-fighting enzymes, cabbages also have other abundant plant compounds that function as protective, preventative and therapeutic. Enjoy as Thoran, Kofte, Red cabbage salad, Curtido, or plain shredded to add crunch to any foods such as a topping for tostadas, burgers and sandwiches in place of nutrient-poor iceberg lettuce.
  7. DRIED BEANS: Beans are so versatile in so many ways, - eat them as snacks, salads, soups, dips, etc, etc. This blog is full of bean recipes;  try hummus or white bean dip, sprout salad, pancakes, Greek bean soup, Chole (Garbanzo stew), spicy bean stew, Rajma (Kidney Bean stew), Black bean salad, etc.
  8. DRIED PLUMS: Oh alright, so they are called prunes :), but they really are delicious and come packed with antioxidants. Enjoy them plain, mixed with other fruits and nuts, or stewed; dried plum and berry sauce makes a splendid topping for pancakes and ice cream.
  9. KIWI: These little packages are high in antioxidants, Vitamin C, and fiber. It is perhaps one of the highest sources of Vitamin E among fruits. Delicious by itself, in salads or desserts.
  10. NUTS: With high protein content, antioxidants, Omega-3 oils, high fiber, and good taste, nuts have a place in our daily diets albeit in controlled portions. Whether eating almonds, walnuts, pecans or pistachios, one ounce or a fist-full is a good serving. Studies show that they lower cholesterol and promote weight control. Try almond butter, pesto, Muesli, thyme scented nibbles, ras malai, etc.
  11. Pomegranate: Loaded with antioxidants and a great source of Vitamin C; lower blood pressure. Just eat them fresh, add the beautiful sparkling arils to salads, as a lovely and delicious garnish for Yogurt Rice
  12. Pumpkins & Winter Squashes: A filling, low-calorie vegetable that is high in fiber and immune-stimulating vitamin A. Even the canned pumpkin is acceptable if you cannot do the fresh. Enjoy in dishes like Chowder, Thogayal, Stews, Soups, Pudding and Pies. Or simply serve cooked pumpkin/squash with a little Earth balance/butter, cinnamon and nutmeg - do include the nutmeg; it does make the dish :).
  13. Pumpkin seeds: They are the most nutritious part of the pumpkin and packed with magnesium; high levels of this mineral are associated with lower risk for early death. Roast lightly to serve as a snack, sprinkle on salads or baked goods or use in pesto.
  14. Purslane: Has the highest amount of heart-healthy omega-3 fats of any edible plant, according to researchers at the University of Texas at San Antonio. The scientists also report that this herb has 10 to 20 times more melatonin -- an antioxidant that may inhibit cancer growth -- than any other fruit or vegetable tested. Although the FDA classifies purslane as a broad-leaved weed, it's a popular vegetable and herb in many countries - India, China, Mexico, and Greece, Turkey, etc. Look for it at your local farmer's market, or Chinese or Mexican market under the name of "verdolaga". Enjoy purslane in a salad as a great alternative or addition to lettuce: the leaves and stems are crisp, chewy, and succulent, and they have a mild lemony taste. It can also be cooked like spinach; add to soups, molakootal, stew.
  15. Quinoa: An ancient grain with high protein and fiber, it is naturally high in iron also. It is also a good source of Zinc, Vitamin E and Selenium and is good for weight control and lowering risks of heart disease and diabetes. Use it in place of rice or other grains; try it in Quinoa Soup.
  16. SPICES: Spices have been used since antiquity to ensure good health; I believe that Indian cuisine evolved over eons to include daily doses of most beneficial spices. One such spice is turmeric; it is the "superstar of spices" with its anti-inflammatory, anti-Alzheimer's, and anti-cancer properties. Get your daily quota of turmeric by adding a couple of pinches to veggies, grains, soups and stews; it is ever present in most Indian dishes.
  17. SWEET POTATO: A leading source of Vitamin A and packed with Vitamin C, Calcium and Potassium, it is a no-brainer to substitute this tasty tuber (especially the orange-fleshed kind) for the regular potato; sweet potatoes are delicious just by themselves without all the added calories of butter or sour cream. They are delicious roasted/baked, in soups, pancakescountry-style, casseroles and pies. I love to grow sweet potatoes for their equally nutritious and beautiful leaves.
  18. SWISS CHARD: A leafy green vegetable packed with carotenoids that protect aging eyes. Chop and saute in olive oil to serve as a vegetable (fabulous as a topping for a bruschetta) or use like you would spinach. Delicious in molakootal, kuzhambu, thoran, soups, etc.
  19. TOMATOES: Rich in lycopene - essential for eye health, Vitamins A, B, & C. Tomatoes are anti-inflammatory and ward off certain cancers, heart disease, free radical damage. Enjoy these wonderful low calorie food simply sliced or in curriessalads, soups, chutneys, and salsas.
  20. WHOLE GRAINS: Rich in B vitamins, vitamin E, fiber, iron, antioxidants, and minerals; reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity.  Three servings daily has been shown to be beneficial.  Whole grain pasta, breads, flours, whole grain oatmeal and cornmeal, brown rice, etc. can replace their highly processed counterparts. Try chapatis, Tabbouleh, Dosa pancakes, scones, Oats Pongal, Risotto, etc.

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