Healthy eating – and being truly conscious of what you’re eating – isn’t easy, no matter when you decide to start. But as the weather warms up and certain foods come into season, you might find yourself craving something fresh, whole and nourishing, instead of the usual frozen dinner or box of cookies. Healthy foods get a bad rap as bland, expensive and unsatisfying, but the truth is that they can be a delicious, budget-friendly addition to your meal plan – and can fill you up, too! So instead of suddenly depriving yourself of all your favorite foods, visit your local grocery store or farmer’s market and add these five healthy foods to recipes you already love.
1. Dark Leafy Greens
With their high iron and vitamin content, it’s no wonder that dark leafy green vegetables top our list of healthy foods. Greens such as fresh spinach, kale and Swiss chard contain a vitamin called lutein, which research says keeps our eyes healthy. Dark greens are also loaded with omega-3s, an essential fatty acid the body cannot create itself. Other dark leafy greens to shop for include mustard greens, broccoli rabe, bok choy, broccoli and spinach. Iceberg lettuce, which has almost no nutritional value, can be swapped for a darker lettuce like romaine.
Add some chopped fresh spinach leaves to your salad, or steam some broccoli in the microwave. Wash, dry and rub fresh kale with a drizzle of olive oil, and then sauté with garlic and chicken or vegetable broth. Or try replacing bread or tortillas with collard greens.
Tip: Here’s the easiest and fastest way to wash greens: Fill a clean sink or a large bowl with cold water, separate your greens and gently swirl the water with your hands to remove grit and dirt. Then shake off excess water and pat dry with Bounty paper towels.
Hailed as a “super fruit,” the blueberry was a top antioxidant-rich pick in a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) study. These sweet berries contain essential antioxidants and can be enjoyed raw or baked into your favorite whole grain muffins and breads. These little wonders contain plenty of other nutrients as well including beta-carotene, lutein, vitamin C, folate, calcium, magnesium, potassium and fiber.
Add frozen blueberries to a breakfast smoothie; mix fresh blueberries into plain Greek yogurt, oatmeal or breakfast cereal; or add dried blueberries to your favorite granola snack.
Quinoa has exploded in popularity due to its nutritional value and high protein content. It’s a great source of dietary fiber and is high in magnesium and iron. And with an impressive 60–100 mg of calcium per serving, it’s excellent for those who are lactose intolerant. Quinoa is also gluten-free, easy to digest and contains essential amino acids.
When cooked, quinoa is light and fluffy and has a mild, nutty flavor. You can prepare it in the same fashion as rice. Mix cooked, completely cooled quinoa with chopped fresh vegetables for a refreshing salad, or use it as a healthier substitute for dishes that call for white rice. We also love this stuffed avocados recipe, which features quinoa as a main ingredient.
Tip: If you’re switching up your diet for the better, remember that common issues such as diet and stress can disrupt your natural balance of good bacteria. Align probiotic supplement contains the unique, patented, pure-strain probiotic Bifantis (B. infantis 35624), which helps maintain your digestive system’s natural balance.*
There are many different varieties of mushrooms available, but crimini, white button and portobello are among the most popular. Mushrooms are low in calories and a good source of vitamin D and iron. They also contain generous levels of riboflavin (vitamin B2) and niacin (vitamin B3). These B vitamins are vital for turning carbohydrates into fuel, enabling our bodies to produce energy. They also help the body metabolize fats and protein. Their savory taste and heartiness make mushrooms a wonderful substitute for beef as well.
Chop mushrooms and add them to frittatas, omelets and scrambled eggs for breakfast; toss into fresh salads; sauté with olive oil, onions and garlic for a delicious side dish; or replace a portion of ground meat in a recipe with an equal measurement of diced mushrooms.
Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids and low in calories, making it an excellent low-fat source of protein. The American Cancer Society claims omega-3 fatty acids help reduce the risk of heart disease as well.
Avoid using too many sauces or marinades with your salmon – these can add far more calories than you might think. Instead, flavor the fish with fresh herbs and a bit of olive oil and fresh lemon. Grill salmon for optimal health impact, but baking and lightly sautéing is wonderful as well.
Tip: While you might be cooking more at home to meet your healthy-eating goals, you can reduce the time spent washing dishes with Dawn Platinum dish soap, which can power away 48-hour, stuck-on food in seconds.
Which of these healthy superfoods are you looking forward to incorporating into your diet? Which ones did we miss? Log in or register to share with us in the comments section!
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.