Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Top 5 Foods to Get More of in 2014

Skip the diets and enjoy a few big time healthy foods more frequently if you really want to feel better and stronger this year.  Here are five foods to eat more of (every day even) in the New Year.  You’ll feel satisfied enough to forego cravings for junk.  Here are some ideas to get you started and I’ll be adding more ways to use these foods in future Pure Foods Project entries. 

Avocados
Even people who know and love avocados surprised me in 2013 with their reluctance to enjoy avocados more.  High fat was sited but remember that without some fat in your diet you cannot absorb some key nutrients like Vitamin A. And avocados have the good kind of fat -- monounsaturated---that you body needs so indulge and be happy.   

Avocados can take the place of mayonnaise on sandwiches, taste amazing with burgers, especially turkey burgers, and can be chopped into some great salads and salsas. 

We put slices in soup too.  Give a simple chicken-rice soup a little south of the border flair with a spoonful of salsa, a few crumbled corn tortillas and slices of avocado.  If you have them around, garnish with a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkling of fresh cilantro and a shot of hot sauce.

A tablespoon of mayonnaise is about 100 calories.  Replace that with ¼ quarter an avocado (double the amount of mayo) for just 80 calories and 5 carbohydrate grams.  80 calories that pack 240 grams of potassium (equal to half a banana) plus Vitamins C and B-6 and some magnesium and a touch of iron.  You even get a gram of protein.  Feeling full?  Of course, even that little amount of avocado adds 14% of the fiber you need for the day.

Beyond guacamole, here are five ways to add avocado to this week’s meals...
  • Serve mango-avocado-lime salsa over grilled fish or chicken.
  • Chop some into a corn side dish (hot or cold) and garnish with sliced scallions
  • Make a salad with blue cheese, avocados and toasted pecans
  • Add to pasta salad or better yet, toss diced avocado with hot spaghetti. It will melt into the pasta to ward off a creamy craving.
  • Serve steamed cold shrimp on a cracker with a little wedge of avocado and a squeeze of lemon.
Beans
Canned, dried or working hard in food preparations like hummus and tofu, beans are a major source of plant-based protein to much of the human population.  Experts advise combining beans with another plant based protein like a grain to get the most from each. 

Include chick peas (hummus), soy beans (edamame, tofu), peanuts (a legume, look for peanut butter made from only peanuts and salt) and beans of every color in this year’s meals to keep you satisfied.  Beans are part of just about any cuisine you are into.    

Fermented Foods
New research is telling us to give ourselves a gut check.  Fermented foods may be one of our most powerful immune fighting resources we have available to us in natural form.  Next time you have a cold and reach for chicken soup, have a half-sour pickle on the side to feel better even faster.

Go beyond cucumber pickles with pickled vegetables like okra, cauliflower, zucchini and green beans.  These are especially available at Farmers Markets toward the end of summer.  Find more fermentation in dishes with:

  • Sauerkraut
  • Kimchi
  • Tempeh
  • Yogurt (try coconut yogurt)
  • Miso (try white miso)
  • Tamari
  • Crème fraiche
  • Sour cream
  • Buttermilk
  • Tabasco sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Fish sauce

Orange Foods
Orange was on fashion runways everywhere in 2013.  In 2014, it goes into practical use on the table.

Winter is a great time to find interesting orange vegetables and starting in March citrus season hits most of the country with deals on fruit. 
Butternut squash, pumpkin, rutabaga, carrots, sweet potatoes
Oranges, peaches, cantaloupe, mangoes, apricots, kumquats, mandarins
And don’t miss out on orange beets and orange bell peppers.

Carotenoids give orange foods their color and give us better skin regeneration, immune system support and digestive and urinary tract health.  Vitamin A is the hero and, as noted above, likes a little assist from some fat to do its job. A little olive oil, a bit of avocado or some nuts go well with these foods. 

Berries
Berries get credited for preventing everything from depression to cancer to fly-away hair and joint inflammation.  Berries can fit into every meal and snack so pop some berries instead of pills. 
  • Blueberries and oatmeal
  • Strawberries mashed into plain yogurt
  • Blackberries with a tablespoon of cream on top
  • Cranberries—are they really berries?  Yes, as are grapes.