Have you noticed that everyone is putting out lists of Top Ten This and Top Ten That? I was feeling a bit left out so I decided to use my soapbox here to share my Top Ten Must-Have Foods. While it’s true there are plenty of great foods available that offer a wide range of health benefits, I have ten favorites for great taste and nutrition. If these aren’t part of your repertoire now, try adding at least one a month during the new year.
This little seed has the highest protein content of any other grain. Since quinoa contains all eight essential amino acids, it’s considered a complete protein. It also delivers fiber, iron, magnesium, calcium and vitamins A and E. Try the red variety for wonderful nutty flavor!
An excellent choice for quality protein and heart-healthy Omega 3 fatty acids. My favorite: the easy to find, affordable Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon in the freezer section of our seafood case.
“Green” has so many meanings these days. At the top of my list: Kale! If it’s not on your list, you’re missing out on its powerful antioxidants, iron, calcium, Vitamin K and fiber- not to mention great taste. Here’s a favorite recipe to prove it: Oven Roasted Kale.
Life without nuts like almonds, cashews, walnuts and macadamia nuts is unimaginable for me! Go for variety and you’ll be getting Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, vitamin E and fiber. Nuts help fill you up and may help keep your cholesterol levels healthy.
Full of antioxidants, these little seeds pack flavor and a powerful health punch. Drinking pomegranate juice daily is a great step towards keeping your cardiovascular system and your arteries in tip-top shape.
Beans and Lentils
Famous for their high soluble fiber content, beans are an important plant-based source of protein. They deliver B vitamins such as folic acid, and minerals such as magnesium, potassium, calcium and iron. The complex sugars in beans can make these guys difficult to digest, so remember to soak them overnight before cooking. Here’s our Guide to Beans and a delicious black bean burger recipe.
Packed with monounsaturated fat (that’s a “good” one), this delicious fruit gets high marks for 2010! It’s versatile: stuff it in a sandwich, eat it sliced with grapefruit, mash it into guacamole, add it to a salad, or just enjoy it plain.
Grass-Fed Lean Meat
When cattle are raised solely on pasture with grass and other forage (their natural diet), the quality of the meat is better and better for you. You get protein, B-vitamins, zinc and easily-absorbed iron. And because it’s grass-fed, you get a more favorable ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids and a higher amount of Conjugated Fatty Acids.
Good for your brain, eyes and vascular system (and good tasting too!), blueberries deliver powerful antioxidants that are particularly protective to your cells. They are low in calories and high in fiber. Don’t eat enough? Throw them in a smoothie, toss onto a salad or try this recipe for Blueberry Pomegranate Sauce.
There are hundreds of different species of friendly bacteria called probiotics that colonize our digestive track and compete with undesirable flora. Foods that contain probiotics contain live cultures. That includes yogurt, kefir, naturally fermented sauerkraut and pickles, miso, and tempeh to name a few. Including high probiotic foods in your daily menu plan helps insure good gut health while adding zest and flavor to your meals and snacks.
Nothing can be more important when it comes to good nutrition than basing a diet on whole, real food. While this list is by no means complete, it represents a sampling of healthy foods that are native to many cultures around the world. If you have your own special “super foods” that you can’t do without, I would love to hear about them.