Eating healthy does not have to be boring, plain, or not tasty. Here are some great ways to use a number of foods that are valued for their health benefits in delicious ways.
1.) Avocados: Avocados are really healthy. They have a ton of vitamin E, and have been shown to have potential for preventing various cancers. And a great and delicious way to fit them into your day is guacamole. Store-bought guacamole isn’t usually very healthy, as it is not as fresh, or is made with powder from avocado that has been dehydrated, and often has preservatives in it. Luckily, it’s easy to make to make a home, as well as delicious, and good with a bunch of different things. When I make my own guacamole, I don’t even measure, but just eyeball the ingredients and taste as I go. I start with one or two avocados, depending on how much I want to make, then add some finely chopped onion (you could use garlic as well as or instead of the onion). I mash these together, then squeeze some fresh lemon juice into the mixture and mix some more. Many people make guacamole with lime juice, but I use lemon because–here’s a little-known fact–limes actually have little to no vitamin C, whereas lemons are packed with it. So anytime I can, I substitute lemons for limes to make a healthier meal. I also just think lemon juice is better in guacamole. Anyway, then I add some spices, usually cumin and salt, although you can add any spices you like. Then I mix everything together, taste it to see what, if anything it needs more or less of. Once it’s just right, you can put it on a sandwich, eat it with tortilla chips or fresh veggies, or anything else you can think of. I personally really enjoy a guacamole and smoked salmon sandwich on wheat bread. Not only do they taste great together, but then you’re also getting the health benefits of salmon, like the omega-3 fatty acids, as well as the healthfulness of wheat bread.
2.) Raw veggies: Raw veggies are really good for you, but it can be difficult to motivate yourself to eat them, as they can taste a bit plain. Why not combine them with another delicious and healthy option—hummus? Hummus, made of chickpeas, is a good source of protein, and has some iron as well. And it makes a great, healthy dip for veggies. I love to dip carrots in it, but it would also be good with celery, broccoli, cauliflower, and more. And since there are so many great varieties of hummus available these days, like dill, red pepper, roasted garlic, or pine nut, you’re bound to find a kind you really love. Of course, you can always make your own and make it to your specifications!
3.) Blackstrap molasses: Blackstrap molasses is a great source of iron, as well as B vitamins, so it can be an especially important food for vegetarians and vegans, who are often low in both of those nutrients. Also, if you have ever been diagnosed as anemic, blackstrap molasses is for you. Toast with butter and blackstrap molasses (or even just the molasses) is a great and easy way to fit it into your daily foods. You can also use it in place of honey or syrup, pouring it over pancakes or waffles, sweetening things with it. You can even cook with it, using it in place of honey or sugar in recipes. I’ve never done that, but according to online information, you should use 1 and 1/3 cup of molasses for every cup of sugar. They also suggest adding 1/2 a teaspoon baking soda per cup of molasses used, to counteract molasses’ more acidic quality. I personally just take a tablespoon of it daily, but that’s not the most tasty way to do it, as taking it that way eventually makes it feel more like medicine than food. Still, if you can handle that, it’s an easy way to get those nutrients.
4.) Brussel sprouts: Brussel sprouts have been given a bad rap over the years, mainly because they are often served boiled, which is not very good. However, they can be prepared so that they’re quite tasty. My boyfriend makes them like this: he chops them coarsely, then sautes them with olive oil, soy sauce, brown sugar, and walnut slices. The result is so delicious that it can change the mind of almost anyone who hates them. They are also quite good roasted. There are number of great recipes for that online; the recipes often involve making a delicious mustard sauce, or plenty of garlic.
5.) Yogurt: The healthiness of yogurt really depends on the kind you get. Many kinds at the grocery store are filled with high fructose corn syrup and are not worth it. However, there are brands of yogurt that contain a good kind of live bacteria, that helps digestion and can help your immune system. And yogurt is a great source of calcium. So when buying yogurt, try getting it plain (so no flavoring or sugar or corn syrup), and whether you choose low-fat or whole milk is up to you, but make sure you get the kind with live bacteria in it. A good way to eat it is as a healthy dessert (makes a great substitute for pudding or ice cream). Pour a cup of yogurt, add honey to sweeten it, and then toss in some cinnamon, and maybe some nutmeg or any other spices that taste good in a sweet dish. You can also eat it for breakfast and add some fresh fruit and granola to it.
6.) Okra: Okra is actually really healthy, and it’s another vegetable that’s been given a bad rap due it it’s often being boiled when this really is not the best way to eat it. Okra is actually really good raw. Try just chopping up some okra, then tossing it with a vinaigrette or some other kind of dressing and eating it raw. Another great option is to saute it instead of boiling it. Sauteing okra with onions and garlic, then mixing it into a cooked tomato mixture is a great way to serve it. This is a popular way to eat okra in India; the sliminess (a commonly known and disliked feature of cooked okra) is not noticeable in this case, and you are also getting the health benefits of the garlic, onions, and tomatoes. To make it simpler, you can start with canned stewed tomatoes. Add chickpeas, even, for some protein, or serve it with lentils. The okra/tomato mixture is also great and healthy over brown rice.
7.) Quinoa: Quinoa is one of the healthiest grains. Not only is it high in protein and iron, but it is actually a complete protein (meaning it contains all nine of the essential amino acids). That makes it a great choice for vegans and vegetarians, who often do not get complete protein. It’s also delicious. The best way to use it is to substitute it in recipes that call for pasta, rice, or couscous. The texture of quinoa is more like couscous, as it is made of of lots of little balls of grain, so it won’t work as well in recipes that call for larger pasta noodles, but it is makes a great addition to soups and it’s great as a grain on which to serve stir fry or sauteed vegetables.
8.) Sunflower seeds: Sunflower seeds are high in protein, iron, vitamin E, and vitamin B1, and are quite low calorie. They’re healthier served raw. A handful as a snack is a great way to eat them, but for those who find that a little plain, you can make a delicious salad dressing out of sunflower seeds. You’ll need a half a cup of olive oil, a cup of water, half a cup of fresh lemon juice, a cup of sunflower seeds, and a clove or two of garlic or if raw garlic is too strong for you, use garlic powder or the spice hing to taste. Also add salt to taste. Simply combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor until creamy and use as a salad dressing or a sauce (it can be quite good over stir fry). It’s delicious! Another great way to fit sunflower seeds into your meals is to put them on your salad. They add a great crunch and a mild flavor to a salad, as well as adding protein and iron.