I know some of us tend to fall into food ruts and have our health food staples, but don’t want to try things that we’re unsure of. I know I do the same thing so I wanted to let you know about some great foods that you should give a try. Some of these foods you may have heard of but may not know how to use them regularly, but others may be new to you.
1. Amaranth: It’s a powerhouse gluten-free grain that’s easy to digest. It has 9g per cup of protein and is an excellent source of amino acids, high in calcium, iron, and fiber. It’s a great grain for summer because it is known as a cooling food. Amaranth can be used in place of rice as a side dish or even in a casserole. You can also get amaranth flour, but it should not be used as the sole flour in any recipe due to its dense nature.
2. Chia Seeds: They are a good source of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. Chia seeds can be sprinkled on soups or salads or added to smoothies. I like chia jam. Just let 1 T of chia seeds dissolve in 1 T of water for about 10-15 mins, mash 1 c of strawberries (fresh or thawed if frozen), add chia/ water mix and stevia (or your sweetener of choice like honey or maple syrup) to your taste (sweet berries probably won’t need any sweetener). Cover and place in the fridge for about 45 mins to set up.
3. Hemp Seeds: These great seeds have 10g of protein per ounce and are a complete protein because they have all 9 essential amino acids. Besides the protein, they are high in magnesium, iron, and phosphorous as well as a rich source of phytonutrients that will help to balance hormones, nurture hair and skin, help with post-workout inflammation, as well as ease your muscles. Hemp seeds can be sprinkled on salads or soups or used in smoothies as well. I like IsaCrunch by Isagenix.
4. Chard and Kale: Spinach is the most well-known of the leafy greens, but chard and kale should also be getting their share of attention. Dark leafy greens in general are great anti-inflammatory foods. They are also incredibly high in fiber, calcium, iron, and healthy fats. Swiss chard has very big leaves so I use these for my lettuce wraps. The stems are like a very salty celery so they can be used in soups and stews to add flavor. Kale can be eaten raw in salads, but most prefer it cooked because of the strong flavor. You can substitute kale for all (or at least half) of the basil in a basil pesto and increase the nutrient content without anyone noticing. Kale chips are also great. Just take about 6 c of kale removed from the stems, toss with 2T EVOO, 1t apple cider vinegar, and ½ t sea salt. Bake on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for about 10 mins, then remove the sheet from the oven and stir/ flip the kale so that it will get crispy all over. Bake for about another 10 mins until it is lightly browned and crispy. It should crack not give when you press down on it. I’ve never had it last long enough to worry about storage or shelf-life.
5. Steel Cut Oats: Oatmeal is a great source of complex carbohydrates, fiber, and protein. Rolled oats are the most common type in our supermarkets. They are simply oat groats mashed flat by a roller. Instant oats are further processed to be quicker to cook by removing some of the fiber, as well as other nutrients. Steel cut oats are just the oat groat cut into two or three pieces. This lack of processing preserves the oat nutrients the best, it also makes the body take longer to digest so it keeps blood sugar more stable. There are several ways to make steel cut oats pretty easily. You can make your oats in the crock-pot overnight, with added fruits like raisins or apples for a sweeter oatmeal with no prep time in the morning. You can also let the oats soak in your saucepan on your stove-top overnight. Then in the morning just bring them to a boil and let them simmer for about 5 mins. If you make a big batch, then you will have several meals ready to go with just a little reheating.
6. Avocado: Avocado oil is similar to our skin’s oil so it can be used topically to treat dry skin. It is a great source of healthy fats to help brain, eye, and heart health. It’s also very anti-inflammatory, and helps bolster the immune system. I love avocado…on everything. I have it on salads, turkey burgers, with pita chips, etc. I’ve even heard of people making a savory yogurt with avocado and herbs.
7. Kefir: It’s basically a tangy drinkable yogurt. It has loads of vitamins, minerals, easily digestible protein. The best thing about kefir is the naturally occurring probiotics. Probiotics not only give our immune system a boost, but they also help with digestion, which is key to proper absorption and utilization of the nutrients we eat. Unhealthy bowels lead to many disorders and even some of our cravings for unhealthy foods. When you buy kefir, make sure that you look for live cultures as well as naturally sweetened varieties. Some kefirs have gone the way of lots of the yogurts available today and are so heavily sweetened that it detracts from their health benefits so watch for added sugars and other flavorings. You can also make your own kefir using kefir grains from a health food store. Since Wyatt is on GAPS I have to make his kefir from scratch. I start with raw milk and let it culture for 24 hours on my counter. Then I sweeten it with a little honey and bananas, and add flavoring with cinnamon and vanilla. We call it his “banana milk.”
Well, I hope this helps give you an idea of some new great foods to try.
Questions? Comments? Please let me know.