I recently subscribed to the “Nutrition Action Healthletter,” published by the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest. It’s the world’s largest-circulation healthy eating newsletter, bringing the latest nutrition news to more than half a million readers.
An article intrigued me about 10 superstar foods to eat for better health. “At least one will surprise you,” boasted the sub headline. I was hoping that would be chocolate. But no such luck.
Instead, there were the usual suspects: sweet potatoes, mangoes, plain (0%) Greek yogurt, broccoli, wild salmon, oatmeal, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), watermelon, butternut squash and leafy greens. Although none of them held the allure of potato chips or pastrami, they are all foods I like.
Energized by this information, I packed all 10 foods into the four recipes below. Here is some of what you can gain from these superstar foods.
Sweet potatoes are loaded with potassium, fiber and carotenoids, which reduce the risk of certain cancers and eye disease. Find carotenoids in broccoli, too, along with vitamin K and folate.
Plain Greek yogurt gives you twice the protein of ordinary yogurts. Fatty fish like salmon, so rich in omega-3 fats, may help reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Oatmeal contains soluble fiber that helps lower cholesterol. Also resplendent in fiber, garbanzo beans provide protein, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc. Watermelon is a heavy hitter nutritionally, offering vitamins A and C, potassium and lycopene. Butternut squash and mangoes score high in vitamins A and C, too.
Lastly, leafy greens, such as kale, collards, spinach, mustard greens and Swiss chard, are loaded with vitamins A, C and K, not to mention folate, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and fiber.
All of this changes the definition of good food from scrumptious and delicious to the impact ingredients have on your health.
Mango Yogurt Breakfast Delight | Dairy
1½ cups plain, unsweetened 0% Greek yogurt
1 cup of diced mangoes from 1-2 mangoes or buy diced mangoes
2 tablespoons uncooked oatmeal
1 teaspoon brown sugar
Divide the yogurt in half and place ¾ cup of yogurt into two cereal bowls. Place ½ cup of mangoes on top of the yogurt in each bowl. Sprinkle a tablespoon of oatmeal over the mangoes in each bowl, followed by the brown sugar. Serve immediately.
Grilled Wild Salmon Fillets | Pareve
1 (5-ounce) package of baby spinach
Nonfat vegetable spray
Kosher salt to taste
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
2 (6-ounce) wild salmon fillets
2 teaspoons low-fat mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Rinse the spinach in a colander under cold water. Set up a vegetable steamer and move the spinach to the basket. Pour an inch of water into the bottom of the steamer. Reserve.
Coat an outdoor barbecue grill or an indoor broiler pan with nonstick spray before you expose them to heat to avoid flare ups. Preheat the grill or broiler.
Sprinkle kosher salt and garlic powder over the salmon filets. Spread mayonnaise on the top side and spread mustard on the bottom side. Place the salmon on the grill or broiler pan and cook for 4 to 5 minutes per side, depending on the degree of doneness desired.
At the same time you place the salmon on the grill, move the steamer to the stove and turn to a high setting. Once the water comes to a boil, lower the flame to medium and steam the spinach for a minute, or until wilted. Remove the spinach from the steamer and drain it briefly on paper towels.
Divide the spinach in half and arrange it in the center of two dinner plates. Place a salmon fillet over the spinach on each plate. Serve immediately.
Roasted Broccoli and Butternut Squash | Pareve
Serves 4-6 as a side dish
Nonstick vegetable spray
1 (20-ounce) package of diced butternut squash
1 large or 2 small heads of broccoli
3 tablespoons olive oil, or more if needed
Kosher salt to taste
¼ teaspoon cumin, or more if desired
¼ teaspoon chili powder, or more if desired
Coat a 10-inch-by-15-inch ovenproof pan with nonstick spray. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cut the broccoli florets into pieces the approximate size of the diced butternut squash. Discard the stems or use them for another purpose. Move the broccoli and butternut squash into the prepared pan. Drizzle them with olive oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle on the salt, cumin and chili powder and toss again until well distributed. Add more seasoning if you’d like zestier flavor.
Place the pan in the oven and roast for 25-30 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked through and the squash is browning on the edges. Should the vegetables become dry during roasting, add more olive oil. Serve immediately.
Kale Salad with the Works | Pareve
3 sweet potatoes
1 bunch of kale, any variety
1 (15-ounce) can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
3 cups of watermelon, seeded and diced
¼ cup raisins
Kosher salt to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into 1-inch chunks. Spray a roasting pan with nonstick spray. Move the sweet potatoes to the prepared pan and roast for 30 minutes, or until the diced sweet potato pieces are soft in the center and may be browning at the edges. Remove them from the oven and cool to room temperature.
Rinse the kale under cold water and drain it on paper towels or in a salad spinner. Chop the kale into bite-sized pieces. Move the kale to a large salad bowl.
Rinse the garbanzo beans under cold water and drain them in a colander. Move them to the salad bowl, along with the remaining ingredients. Gently mix together with salad tossers and serve immediately.