There’s a ton of talk about superfoods these days. It seems like everywhere we turn there’s new advertisement for a new powder that’s going to give us energy, a food that’s promised to burn fat, or a supplement that’s going to give us clear skin. The issue is that many of these foods and supplements don’t have scientific evidence to back their claims.
My philosophy is that incorporating nutritious foods into our lives in a balanced, sustainable way is the most effective way to have more energy, get a better sleep and maintain a healthy body that’s realistic for you.
Foods that are included on this list for me are a balance of vegetables, fruit, legumes (beans, peas and lentils), and whole grains. These foods provide of plethora of nutrients on their own, and are consistently touted time and time again in the healthiest diets in the world, such as the Mediterranean diet and plant-based diet.
You’ll notice that one thing all of these foods have in common is their fibre content. Fibre is important for keeping us feeling fuller for longer, gut health, and keeping our bowel movements regular. To read more about fibre and how to incorporate more into your diet, click here.
Sweet potatoes are a powerhouse of nutrition. High in vitamin A, vitamin C, fibre, and carbohydrates they’re incredible at keeping us energized for longer. Rich in prebiotics, they help us to maintain good gut health.
How to use:
- Cut into wedges, seasoned with garlic powder, smoked paprika and salt and roasted at 450 degrees farenheit for 25-30 minutes
- Roasted whole at the same temperature for about 1 hour, then stuffed with black beans, salsa and guacomole.
- Cut into chunks and roasted at 450 degrees F for 25 minutes, then tossed into a salad or nourish bowl.
- Steamed, then frozen in individual serving sizes and frozen. It can then be thrown into smoothies to thicken and add sweetness.
- Roasted whole (same as above) and made sweet with bananas, nut butter and cinnamon.
Kale is amongst one of the most nutrient dense vegetables. Rich in iron, calcium, fibre and protein, vitamin A, C, K, potassium, folate, and even omega-3 fatty acids (read more about omega 3 here). I love kale because of its versatility.
How to use:
- Chop into bite size pieces, then drizzle with lemon juice. Massage for about 2 minutes until wilted and deepened in colour. This breaks down the cell walls and allows it to be easier digested and chewed. It can then be used in salads and nourish bowls.
- Added to a smoothie for an undetectable serving of veggies!
- Cut into bite size pieces, then drizzle with 1 tsp of olive oil, salt, nutritional yeast and any other spices you wish. Bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until browned on the edges.
- Steam kale and add into nourish bowls.
- Add a handful into soups, stews and curries at the end of cooking.
Long gone are the days that beans are solely eaten once a year in a picnic bean salad, or as a side of mushy, bland green peas on your plate. Hardly a day goes by for me without eating some sort of bean, pea or lentil. My personal favourite is the humble chickpea, but I encourage you to explore all the different legumes and discover what you like best!
Legumes are protein powerhouses, which make them perfect for incorporating into any plant-based meal for an extra protein punch. They also are excellent sources of iron and calcium, which are nutrients that individuals following a plant-based diet should be conscious of. Of course, you guessed it, they’re rich in fibre, too!
How to use:
- My personal favourite way to eat chickpeas is roasted with seasonings of choice (I like garlic powder, onion powder, and oregano) at 450 degrees F for 25 minutes, or until crispy. Enjoy as a salad topper, in nourish bowls, or even straight on their own!
- Black beans can be mashed and made into veggie burgers. My personal favourite recipe is by Minimalist Baker!
- Blend peas or edamame into a traditional pesto sauce to add protein and fibre.
- Add cooked lentils to tomato sauces to get a meat-like texture and add protein and fibre.
Last week we discussed the importance of incorporating plant-based omega 3 sources. These tiny nutrition powerhouses add fibre, protein, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats into our diets (to read more about fats, click here).
How to use:
- Mix 1 tbsp of ground flax into 2.5 tbsp of water to act as an egg replacer in baked goods and veggie burgers.
- Blend 1-2 tbsp of chia, flax or hemp seeds into smoothies
- Sprink chia, flax or hemp seeds into a salad
- Grind 1 tbsp of hemp seeds into a vegan parmesan cheese with 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds or cashews, 3-4 tbsp of nutritional yeast and a pinch of salt.
- Top yogurts with chia, flax or hemp seeds.
Berries are some of the highest food sources of antioxidants, only second to herbs and spices. These antioxidants may protect against cancer, boost the immune system, and aid your liver and brain. Berries are also high in fibre, vitamins and minerals.
It’s no secret that berries can be expensive, especially during the winter. Because of this, I recommend buying frozen. Frozen berries are likely just as nutritious as fresh (perhaps even more nutritious if they’re frozen at the peak of their ripeness).
How to use:
- Blend 1-2 handfuls of berries into a smoothie
- Add any berries of choice to morning oatmeal for an extra fibre and nutrient boost
- Have berries and coconut whipped cream as a dessert! Make coconut whipped cream by chilling a can of coconut milk (make sure you get one without guar gum as it won’t work if it contains guar gum!) for at least 6 hours, then scooping out the solid parts. Add 1 tsp of vanilla and 1 tbsp of maple syrup, then whip the coconut cream until light and fluffy. Spoon over berries for a refreshing a delicious dessert!
- Pack berries as a snack with walnuts, almonds or cashews.
Check out my Instagram @tastingtothrive_rd to learn even more ways to use all of these foods!