If you are looking for a little summer inspiration for superfoods – here’s a quick list of some of my favourites!
Onions, Garlic and Olive oil
You’ll see that in most of my savoury dishes, include onions, garlic and olive oil. This is because, besides being a great base for most dishes, these ingredients are proven to have special health giving properties, especially when heated together. Onions and garlic belong to the same family and both share a protective action on the circulatory system. Together they also work as a diuretic and have an antibiotic action. These three ingredients are also proven to help lower blood cholesterol. So, as long as you AND your partner go for the garlic – everybody’s happy!
Tomatoes are packed with potassium and vitamins and are wonderfully low in calories. Eat them cooked or raw, it really doesn’t matter – just eat them! Tomatoes are a superfood that give great nutrition whichever way you look at it. Raw Tomatoes are a good source of vitamin C and are high in vitamin A. Cooked tomatoes provide lycopene, an antioxidant thought to reduce cancer risk and cardiovascular disease. And tomato lycopene absorption is maximised when tomatoes are cooked and have a little oil added — think chilli and spaghetti sauce and actually most of the sauce based dishes throughout this book!
Kids don’t like tomatoes? Don’t give them straight from the fridge, Tomatoes are much nicer, slightly warmed to room temperature. Try lovely, sweet, warm, cherry tomatoes just off the window sill. Delicious!
Fish– oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, sardines and trout is a rich source of omega-3. Omega-3 is proven to help against heart disease.
Nuts and seeds– the oils in nuts and seeds especially almonds, walnuts and peanuts may help protect against heart disease and possibly some cancers too. They are high in fat, but it’s the type of fat that is essential as part of a healthy diet, and are great when lightly sprinkled on salads or as a crunchy topping for bakes.
Berries– the red and blue berries such as raspberries, blueberries and redcurrants contain vitamin C and other anti-oxidants and are lovely and tasty in desserts or salads.
Salad leaves– Dark green leafy vegetables are a great source of iron to help keep your blood in healthy condition. Add a pile of dark green leaves to your meal as often as you can.
Spinach-Just like Popeye! I like to add some raw spinach to many of my salads. It’s rich in vitamin C, calcium and beta-carotene. It boosts folic acid and helps to keep bones and blood healthy. If it’s good enough for Popeye, it’s good enough for me! Spinach needs to be eaten with vitamin C to ensure optimum absorption so either add some orange segments to your salad or have drink of fresh orange juice with your meal.
Yes, you heard it right, water is one of my superfoods. We all need to drink far more water than we do. Try to aim for 8 glasses a day. Being dehydrated can cause headaches and tiredness and it’s easy to confuse thirst for hunger. Before you sit down to a big meal or reach for the snacks have a glass of water just to see if that’s what your body is really craving.
Beans and Lentils
Make no beans about it, beans and lentils are among the most overlooked items in the grocery store.
Take a look at some of my recipes using beans and lentils, they are simple, affordable, tasty and healthy.
Beans really are nutrition superstars that are rich in protein, fibre, complex carbohydrates, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. Eating a diet that is rich in legumes (Beans and Lentils) has been shown to have a positive effect on cholesterol levels and can help promote weight loss as they fill you up for longer!
Beans and Lentils are easy on the wallet and incredibly versatile to cook with. Toss them into soups, stews, salads, grain medleys, or greens or create a veggie dip by pureeing beans and adding your favourite seasoning, like hummus made from chickpeas.
Watermelon is everyone’s favourite summertime fruit. But because it is so naturally sweet, some people avoid it because they think it is high in sugar.
But, I advise you to go for the ‘Watery Melon’ as my children used to call it!
It’s fun to eat, sweet, juicy, low in calories, and chock full of vitamins C, A, potassium, and lycopene. And because it is so high in water, it helps meet fluid needs.”
A bonus is that the thick peel keeps pesticides far from the flesh, making it a truly organic fruit. Yummy!
Sweet potatoes are often thought of as high in calories and carbs because they are so naturally sweet. But don’t let that fool you. Sweet potatoes are nutritional all-stars and one of the best vegetables you can eat. Not only are they a great source of beta carotene, vitamin C, fibre, and potassium, but this highly underrated vegetable is so versatile it can be enjoyed with very few extra calories or embellishment. A baked sweet potato needs no added butter for moisture, it is delicious roasted, mashed or boiled.
I LOVE red cabbage and would encourage you to try it too! It provides great source of fibre, vitamins A, D, and K; folate; and lots of trace minerals. It is rich in antioxidants which are the cancer-fighting enzymes and you can eat it in which ever way you like the most. You can eat it raw, cooked, sweet, savory, stand-alone in a dish like coleslaw, or add it to almost anything from soups, salads, casseroles, sandwiches, burgers, and more. It’s a great way to add colour to any dish and as we all know adding more colour through fruit and veggies means that we add more nutrition!
Plain, Non-fat Greek Yogurt
I use low fat or ‘No-fat’ yogurt in many of my dishes and they work a treat when replaced the high calorie creams that are in most recipes. There are many yogurts on the market, and plain, non-fat Greek yogurt really stands out as a food superstar.
All yogurts are excellent sources of calcium, potassium, protein, zinc, and vitamins B6 and B12. What distinguishes Greek yogurt is its thicker, creamier texture because the liquid whey is strained out. Also, it contains probiotic cultures and is lower in lactose and has twice the protein content of regular yogurts. So skip the extra sugar calories found in most yogurts and pump up the protein by choosing Greek yogurt that contains twice as much protein, which is great for weight control because it keeps you feeling full longer.