For many of us food is more of a routine than it is an adventure. We tend to know the things we like and eat them over and over again, never bothering to try something new. The problem with this eating strategy is you are most likely short changing yourself nutritionally. Not all foods are created equal; they each have a different vitamin, mineral, phyto-nutrient and anti-oxidant make up. Eating the same things day in and day out can leave you short of vital nutrients your body needs.
Putting some variety in your diet will not only liven up your menu and your taste buds but it will help your body get what it needs to stay healthy.
If you’re going to get yourself out of that culinary rut you’re in, you are going to have to come up with some ideas for new foods to try out. Here is a list of some super nutrient dense foods that taste great and are great for you. I give you 6 foods you should be eating…but probably aren’t.
Kimchi: This traditional Korean dish is most often made with fermented cabbage but there are literally hundreds of varieties. What makes Kimchi so healthy is the combination of ingredients and how it is made. Most kimchi is made with fermented cabbage (like sauerkraut) radish, garlic, chili peppers, onion, and often a brined seafood like oysters, squid or fish. Kimchi is often spicy (but not always) and packs a real nutritional wallop. This Korean side dish is loaded with vitamin A, B, C, calcium, potassium, iron, dietary fiber, pro-biotic bacteria, Omega 3 fatty acids, anti-oxidants and significant anticancer properties from the trifecta of onions, garlic and cabbage. You can put Kimchi in scrambled eggs, used as a pizza topping or stirred into fried rice.
Calves liver: Actually I grew up with this one. Liver and onions was one of my father’s favorite meals and we ate it almost every week. But sadly this dish has fallen out of favor. Liver is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet, in fact in his book The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, Jonny Bowden, Ph.D states “gram for gram it contains more nutrients than any other food”. Liver is loaded with vitamin A as well as practically every B vitamin you need. The list of trace minerals is as long as my arm and of course protein. Toss in some nicely sautéed onions and garlic and you have one tasty and nutrient dense meal.
Seaweed: If you are a fan of sushi you are very familiar with seaweed. It’s the dark green stuff they wrap your rolls with. Seaweed can also be used in soups salads and side dishes (personally I have become completely addicted to the Roasted Seaweed Snacks at Trader Joes). But even if you’re not a sushi fan seaweed should be on your menu. Seaweeds are high in essential amino acids as well as vitamin A, C potassium, iron, calcium, iodine and magnesium. It’s calorie count is practically nil (5-20 calories per serving) and no fat which makes it a great food if you’re trying to lose a few pounds.
Lentils: This legume boasts all the benefits of beans without the sulfur which means no gas (no worries about letting one rip on the elevator ride back to the office with your boss after having them for lunch). Lentils are high in fiber which means they help regulate blood sugar and lower blood cholesterol levels. They are a great source of B vitamins and packed with protein. Another benefit to those of us with busy lives is compared to other types of dried legumes, lentils are fairly quick and easy to prepare and tasty too.
Oysters: We all know the oyster’s legendary status as an aphrodisiac but oysters are also a nutritional power house. These yummy mollusks’ are low in calories but high in protein, omega3 fatty acids, potassium, magnesium, vitamin E and zinc. In fact oysters contain more zinc than any other food which may be why they have gotten the reputation as a lusty food since zinc supports male sexual health. Oysters can be roasted, grilled, baked, smoked, fried and even eaten raw (my personal favorite).
Swiss chard: This amazing green is in the beet family and often comes with brightly colored red and yellow stalks that are edible. What sets it apart from other leafy greens is impressive amounts of Vitamin A, C, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, calcium and potassium. Swiss chard can be prepared in much the same way you prepare spinach and is great in salads, omelets, soups and stews.
So get out there and be adventurous, try some new things and improve your health in the process.