Superfoods to the Rescue!

Inspired by Carries post about new years resolutions as well as my goal to eat healthier this year (aka not eat Popeyes every day for every meal), I sought out to find information on what sorts of foods I should be adding to my diet. Now if the first thing you think of is Kale, let me tell you this, BLAGH! Kale should be part of your diet already. I figured everyone at Just Salad was getting Just Kale. We need superfoods worthy of 2014. Well, it turns out there are a whole bunch of new “Superfoods” that really up their ante when it comes to nutritional value. The Huffington Post had a great list of superfoods that you should be eating right NOW. Some I have heard of, some I can’t pronounce, all worth giving a try.

Take a look at their top lucky 13 superfoods (Lucky AND super?!) and let us know what else you would recommend!

1. Chicories
chicories raw
Kale may be getting all the attention lately, but let some chicories into your life now. Not only are they packed with flavor (and folate), they’re also hearty and ideal for cold weather meals. Mix up your greens with Belgian endive, frisée and escarole, and incorporate some purple radicchio into your salad too. The variety of color isn’t just pleasing to the eye, it also means more vitamins for your body. If the slightly bitter taste of chicories isn’t quite your thing, Richter suggests cooking with them: Add escarole to soup, try turkey or chicken salad wraps with radicchio and use Belgian endive to scoop up dips and spreads, she says.

MSK: Remember the part about me not being able to pronounce some of the foods? I’m off to a stellar start. I also didn’t know “endive”, “frisée”, “escarole”, and “radicchio”, but lets move past that. I’m not sure if my local supermarket is going to carry this, but I’ll keep an eye out. I need to start experimenting with salads and this could be a great excuse to hunt some Chicories down.

2. Root Vegetables
root vegetablesHigh in fiber, veggies like parsnips, turnips, celery root and beets grow underground where they absorb lots of minerals from the soil. They’re a healthy choice that even satisfies your sweet tooth. Richter gets a double dose by first roasting root vegetables with olive oil, salt and pepper. Then she blends leftovers with stock and some ginger for soup that hits the spot.

MSK: I just recently cooked with turnips for the first time. They were a staple recipe for a stew that I was making from The Pioneer Woman’s masterful mind. I have long been a fan of beets and carrots, but I think its about time I discover my root (vegetable)s.

3. Jicama
jicama
While it isn’t super common in the United States, this low-calorie tuber is also known as the yambean, Mexican potato and Chinese turnip around the world. The mild, slightly nutty flavor and crunchy texture makes jicama quite versatile: Richter peels them and cuts them into sticks for a raw alternative to chips (with salsa!) or shreds and cubes them to toss into all sorts of salads.

MSK: If I’ve had it in the past, I didn’t know it, but Jicama is not a foreign word to me. I know that I’ve heard the word countless times in the past, but where? If I can find it, I’ll give it a try. You’re Jicama Crazy! (no?)

4. Winter Squash
winter squash mix
When it comes to comfort food that’s also good for you, winter squash is where it’s at. Load up on beta-carotene benefits by sampling the many shapes and sizes, from acorn to butternut to spaghetti and more. There are plenty of ways to prepare squash, but Richter points out you can also simply broil it or mash it along with garlic powder or Parmesan cheese.

MSK: I have to confess that I was semi obsessed with butternut squash this past fall (maybe still am). Whether in quesadillas or soups or Macaroni and Cheese, the taste of cooked butternut squash brings a warmth to every dish it’s in.  The first time I tried to cook butternut squash, I thought I could slice it down the center, dish out the seeds, throw some brown sugar in it, and toss it in the oven. Well……..FAIL. While I know that people eat it that way, I just couldn’t get it to cook evenly. Chopping it up and boiling it either in water or milk seems to have been the most successful for me. Oh, and one more thing, I recommend to ALWAYS peel it first. Technically the skin is edible, but the texture of it when it’s cooked is different from the rest of the vegetable and you’ll notice it in your dishes. If you are going to blend it up, you may be OK. Spaghetti squash is next on my list and I’ve got my first recipe ready! I get it, the recipe is with kale. (please don’t tell kale I was de-throwning it in #1)

5. Cabbage
cabbage brussels sprouts
Cabbage has gotten a bit of a bad rap over the years, so give it another chance if you’re not a fan. Whether you opt for green, purple or white, the thick leaves will fill you up and may help fight cancer. Richter says roast it, stuff it or chop it in salad and your body will be thankful.

MSK: I never knew Cabbage had such a bad rap. I guess we all go through our phases, but while this vegetable may have been part of the AV squad in high school, in common day life, cabbage would be the kicker of the football team. Not the QB though, just the kicker.

6. Cauliflower
califlower
A cousin of broccoli, cauliflower is often overlooked. But you shouldn’t forget about this cruciferous veggie — it’s a solid source of vitamin K and a great substitute for starch. Richter’s favorite way to prep cauliflower is to purée it with low-fat milk and a little butter, but the many possibilities will seriously surprise you.

MSK: Being the strange child that I am, I have always love broccoli and cauliflower and regularly stole the pile of each from every family gathering that had a fruit and vegetable tray. I guess you could say I was the fruit AT the vegetable tray! These days, I’m working cauliflower into recipes. Skinnytaste.com has a great recipe for Baked Potato Soup that I highly recommend!

7. Chia Seeds
chia seeds
They may be tiny, but they pack a big punch. Chia seeds are rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and are said to cut cravings. Richter whips up a superfood pudding with chia seeds and also sprinkles them on yogurt.

MSK: Not even 2 days ago my new boss and I were talking about juicing (the blender kind, not the steroids kind) and he mentioned to me that Chia seeds were great to add into the drink because they help to suppress appetite. Now come on, are you telling me that those things that you used to get wet and rub all over a clay head are actually good for you? And how are they suppressing your appetite? By sprouting in your stomach? Turns out when you wet Chia seeds, they form a gelatinous substance that takes longer to digest. They are easily mixable with yogurt, put into a smoothie, or mixed in with oatmeal, and will stay better longer than their competition, flax seed.

8. Avocado
avocado cut
This decadent fruit has a lot to offer: magnesium, potassium and monounsaturated fats. Avocado may help reduce “bad” cholesterol, plus its heart-healthy fats allow you to absorb more nutrients from other foods. Beside guacamole, Richter’s go-to methods are swapping it for butter on toast or slicing some in a salad, but do try it on sandwiches, in baked goods and even on your face.

MSK: There are not many fruits that you can rub on your face and also eat on a salad. Actually, wait a second. What I meant to say was, this is ANOTHER fruit you can rub on your face and eat in a salad. My apple sauce face mask will be the next hot trend!

9. Citrus Fruits
citrus
Fresh, juicy citrus fruits are at their peak this time of year, so load up! The flavonoids combat free radicals and help you absorb iron from other foods, so garnish your water with lemons and limes, throw oranges in a savory salad or broil grapefruit for dessert. (Richter cuts hers into sections so there are lots of caramelized layers.)

MSK: As if you needed a reason like Margaritas to break out the lemons and limes. Just throw in some orange juice in there every so often. Memosas you say? Eating healthy is *hiccup* fun!

10. Kiwi
kiwi
Did you know one kiwi has more vitamin C than an orange? It’s true. Don’t let any part of it go to waste either, because Richter advises leaving the skin on for extra fiber.

MSK: Eat them skin and all eh? Are kiwis the new apple or something? I think I’ll still to slicing them up before I throw them into my salad. Delicious none the less!

11. Pomegranate
pomegranate whole seeds
If you want to live longer, look no further than the pomegranate. While they might be a total pain to open, Richter believes it’s worth learning how to de-seed them once and for all (she swears by doing it under water). Snack on the seeds alone or include them in appetizers and main courses alike.

MSK: For a long time my pomegranate intake was thanks to pomegranate Burnetts vodka. Since moving from Michigan, my intake has severely decreased, and according to this article, I’m not going to live as long because of it. Talk about a kick in the pants! Time to get back to POM juice. I have yet to see pomegranate seeds in the store. Perhaps I need to up the class of the places I shop at. Nahhhhhhh.

12. Pears
anjou pear
Winter is perfect for pears, and you should grab some for their vitamin B2, E, copper and pectin. Richter recommends you eat them raw to help lower cholesterol or bake them for an elegant dinnertime twist.

MSK: I need to eat more pears. #truth

13. Frozen Berries
frozen berries
Yes, it’s freezing outside, and yes, they’re available year-round, but berries are hard to beat. Since they were picked and frozen during their peak season, you’ll get the most antioxidant bang for your buck. Top plain Greek yogurt with them or microwave the berries for a few seconds to make a syrup that’s delicious on oatmeal and whole-grain waffles for breakfast, says Richter.

MSK: I didn’t get a Ninja to NOT be blending, chopping, and mixing everything in sight, and these frozen berries are going to start giving me a kick in the morning to get me going. Just got a frozen bag of blueberries and mixed berries last night to get myself started! At least I know it wont melt on my way to work…

And there they are! The top 13 Superfoods that Huffington Post strongly suggests you start eating right away. What did they miss?

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