Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap small buildings in a single bound (and available at your local grocery store), they’re…wait for it….SUPERFOODS! (cue Superman Music)
Unless you’ve been stuck under something heavy for the past few years, you’ve likely come across an article, doctor or Jewish mother who has told you about Superfoods.
Superfoods are foods with a high phytonutrient content which offer multiple health benefits. While “Superfood” is not a legal term and some dispute claims that these foods have “healing qualities” or will make an earth shattering difference in one’s health, I say these are foods that are super healthy and delicious to eat, and I recommend incorporating them into folks’ menus. Whether I’ll live to be 147 because I ingest these Superfoods by the vat remains to be seen. Check in with me in another 42 years.
And now, without further ado:
Top 10 Superfoods and Creative Ways to Cook with Them
(The Superfoods mentioned below happen to be my favorites. I did not include all Superfoods in this list. For example: Yogurt happens to be a Superfood, but in my opinion yogurt sucks.)
10) Broccoli– This yummy green tree is loaded with vitamins and fiber. Welcome to the
list, broccoli. My favorite way to cook broccoli is to roast it.
For kids who “don’t like broccoli” or other “green things,” try a healthy version of Broccoli Cheese Soup.
Start a stock pot off on medium high heat, sweat down an onion, then add 1 cup of chicken stock and 1 cup of skim milk, bring to a boil and add 1tsp of chopped garlic and 1 tsp of dijon mustard. Turn down heat and add 2 cups of grated sharp cheddar cheese. (I find that low fat cheddar does not melt as well as the regular cheddar.) After cheese is incorporated into the soup, add 1 large head or 2 smaller heads of broccoli (chopped). Cover and cook on low for 20min. Then transfer soup to a blender and blend until smooth.
A blended cheesy soup should please the pickiest of eaters. When I was growing up my family taught me this philosophy: “If you can melt cheese on it, you can eat it.”
9) Olive Oil– Extra Virgin Olive Oil is so freakin’ good for you. You have no idea! It’s seriously some good stuff. Don’t buy the cheapy cheap brand, spring for one that has been cold pressed, if possible. If you’re fancy, you can keep two oils on hand; a less expensive one that you cook with and a nice one that you use for dipping and for salad dressing. Now, unless you’re totally clueless, you don’t need me to give you recipes on how to use olive oil. And if you are that clueless, why are you reading a food blog?? Here’s a tip that you might not know about olive oil: it’s a wonderful deep conditioner for dry hair. Yup, no lies. Use your less expensive oil and rub it into the ends of dry hair. Your hair has to be dry; oil won’t penetrate wet hair. After the oil is added, run a hairdryer over it. The heat will open hair cuticles and allow the oil to do it’s job. Leave the oil in your hair for as long as you can stand it, then shampoo it out.
8) Whole Grains– Yawn. Yeah, whole grains can be a little boring. Whole grains give your body much more fiber and protein than their plain white counterparts. It’s worth it to switch from white rice to brown rice, regular pasta to whole wheat pasta, and your bread should be the good whole wheat kind that’s made in the bakery at your store. Make sure that what you are purchasing is not loaded with sugar. Some products say “whole wheat” on the front, but if it’s got high fructose corn syrup in it, it’s probably not the product you want. When doing grains, stick to bread, pasta, couscous, rice and quinoa, skip the donuts that have the “now made with multi grain” label. I know many are reluctant to switch to these “brown” versions of our favorite starches, but give it a try. Here’s a recipe that can help:
Boil some whole wheat spaghetti, and make sure you salt the water! Once the pasta is cooked, drain and throw back into the pot in which it was cooked. In another bowl, whisk together ¼ cup peanut butter, 1/3 cup chicken stock, 1 tsp Sriracha chili sauce, and 1 tsp low-sodium soy sauce. Add this mixture to the pasta and toss in some chopped cilantro and green onions, if you wish. These spicy peanut noodles are tasty and full of whole grains!
7) and 6) Oats and Berries – I am combining numbers 7 and 6, because the recipe I am going to give you uses both! Everyone knows that oatmeal, (real oatmeal, not the kind that comes in a package and is ready in 4 seconds), is good for you. Most are also aware that fruits, especially berries, are good to eat as well. Here’s a really yummy recipe for homemade granola bars that uses both oats and berries!
Take a pint of your favorite berry and cook down with a little sugar (1 tb) and some water (1/3 cup) After berries have cooked down, blend in a food processor until you have a thick jam and set aside.
Combine : 1 ¼ cups Oats, 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour, 1 tsp salt, ½ baking powder, 1/3 cup white sugar, 1/3 cup brown sugar, ½ cup walnuts. Then melt 1 stick of butter and add to the mixture. In a greased baking pan, pour half of this thick and dry batter into the pan, then add the jam mixture and layer with the remaining batter. Bake for 30-35 min at 350 degrees. Let cool for about 1 hour before cutting. These granola bars make excellent morning snacks!
5) Salmon– This fatty fish has so many nutrients and omega 3s that it will forever have a place on the “Eat these foods, they’re good for you” list. Wild salmon is always going to be more expensive but also better. The farm-raised salmon doesn’t typically get as much exercise and is more often treated with hormones. Some markets sell farm raised yet hormone-free salmon, and this is generally less expensive than the wild variety.
One of my favorite salmon recipes is also super easy! Preheat your broiler. Be prepared for your kitchen to get really hot. Squeeze a lime over your piece of salmon and broil for 3 min. During these three minutes, mix together : 2 Tb honey, 1 tsp Sriracha chili sauce, 1 Tb Hoisin Sauce. Take the salmon out of the broiler and spoon over the honey mixture, broil for another 4-5 min and you’re done! This salmon dish with the spicy peanut noodles makes an excellent dinner!
4) Nuts– Nuts are an excellent source of natural fat and oils. I love to throw a bunch of nuts into the food processor and use them to coat a piece of chicken or fish.
A favorite crust of mine involves combining ¼ cup nuts (either walnuts or almonds), some garlic, 1 tsp fresh fennel, ½ tsp cayenne pepper, ½ tsp coriander and salt and pepper into the food processor and coating a piece of salmon with the mixture. Drizzle some olive oil over the fish and bake at 375 degrees for about 15 mins. Serve with the Roasted Broccoli…Oooh, that is good!
3) Hot Peppers– Peppers contain compounds called capsaicinoids. Capsaicinoids are compounds which have anti-inflammatory benefits. Eating peppers can also help with headaches. Hot peppers or chilis will provide you with the excellent \ benefits. The easiest way to eat a lot of chilis is to make a fresh salsa! You can also add chili into your favorite soup or chili recipe.
You could also try this spicy goat cheese dip: 1 container of fresh goat cheese (with herbs or not), 1 can of white beans, 1 hot pepper, sprig of rosemary, and ¼ cup of chicken stock. Drain and rinse the can of white beans and bring to a boil with the chicken stock. Add the sprig of rosemary (chopped). After the white beans boil, reduce the heat, add the chopped chili or hot pepper and let cook for 3 min. Then remove the pan from heat and add the goat cheese. Stir to combine goat cheese with the white beans and chili, then transfer to a food processor and blend until smooth.
2) Red Grapes– Red grapes contain phytochemicals that can improve cardiovascular health. They also contain vitamins C, B1 and B6. A lot of people enjoy eating grapes by the handful or drinking them by the glassful (wink wink). Here’s a creative way to devour this fruity Superfood.
Take 1 cup of red grapes, cut grapes in half, and toss into a bowl. Add ¼ cup chopped red onion, 2 Tb chopped green onion, 1 chopped jalapeno (with or without seeds), ¼ cup lime juice, and a chopped avocado. Toss together and then drizzle a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil over the top. This red grape salsa is super with some toasted whole wheat tortillas.
The moment you’ve all been waiting for….
The number one Superfood is….
1) Green Tea– Um, Duh. Everyone knows that green teas have tons of antioxidants. Green Teas also contains polyphenols,( which may help decrease cancer, heart disease and stroke risk). Some say that drinking lots of Green Tea can help support brain health and memory. A very wise container of green tea can also do your taxes for you. It’s great stuff, but how the *$^# are we suppose to cook with it? I don’t think Green Tea Ice Cream counts as a Superfood! Well, my friends, I have found one recipe that I can share with you all which incorporates some brewed green tea. It’s a spicy lemon basil dipping sauce.
Take ½ cup brewed Green Tea, mix with: 1 Tb. honey, 2 Tb. lemon juice, 2 Tb, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, a handful of chopped basil leaves, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 chopped chili, and some salt and pepper. This sauce would be nice to dip Chicken Satay in, or to pour over any grilled chicken or fish. Now, this sauce will not give you enough green tea to receive all its health benefits. It’s recommended one have 2+ cups per day.
Well, there you have it kids. Top Ten Superfoods and creative ways to use them. Enjoy the recipes, enjoy the benefits of Superfoods. Hey, maybe you could even wear a Superman cape while you prepare these foods, that would be suuuuuuupppeeerr …Creepy, actually. Please don’t wear the cape. Just eat the foods and steer clear of kryptonite.