Ready for your second installment of Fruit & Veggie Friday: Superfoods, Super You? Hopefully you read last week's post and have been counting down the days until this one, but if not (shame on you), here's the gist of what this is all about:
If you don’t fully understand the nutritional benefits of fruits and vegetables or are not meeting the daily guidelines, we’re here to help. We are featuring the health benefits of one fruit and one vegetable every Friday for the rest of the summer, and giving you tasty recipes too so that it will not only be a breeze to add these superfoods to your diet, but they’ll taste so good that you won’t revert to your childhood methods of sneaking your brussel sprouts to your dog under the table. Read up and eat up, ladies—and don’t forget to check back next week to get your fruit and veggie fix all over again.
Apricots may be tiny, but their health benefits are big. Health author-journalist Cal Orey deems apricots “heart healthy gems.” She recommends them because they are low in calories—one fresh apricot only has about 20 calories!—yet still contain significant vitamins and minerals. She points specifically to the potassium and beta-carotene that apricots deliver, which are “two friendly nutrients that may boost iron and lower the risk of heart disease.” Additionally, they’re filled with fiber (which helps regulate your digestive system and keep you satiated), vitamin A (for healthy eyes, bones, teeth, and skin), and immunity-boosting vitamin C. The easiest way to enjoy this little orange fruit (by the way, they are orange because of the cartenoids they contain, which may help reduce the risk of cancer) is just by sinking your teeth into a fresh one or adding some dried ones to your trail mix. But if you want to get the benefits of apricots in more exciting, flavorful ways, here are two recipes to try.
Courtesy of: myrecipes.com
This simple recipe requires few ingredients and minimal preparation, giving you fruity, fiery salsa in minutes. Use it as a dip for chips or veggies, or as a sauce for chicken or fish.
- 1 pound firm-ripe apricots, pitted and chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
- 2 fresh jalapeño chilies, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
Mix apricots with bell pepper, jalapeños, cilantro, and lime juice. Season to taste with salt.
Herb Apricot Chicken
Courtesy of: rachaelray.com
This recipe requires a little extra work in the kitchen, but it’s well worth it. Put on your apron and get on Rachael Ray’s level.
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 3 pounds chicken breasts and boneless thighs, cut into chunks
- Salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 20-24 dried apricots, chopped
- 5-6 sprigs thyme
- 1/3 cup flat leaf parsley (a generous handful)
- 3 tablespoons chopped chives
- Grated peel and juice of 1 lemon
In a large, deep skillet, heat the EVOO, about three turns of the pan, over medium-high heat, until hot. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Cook the chicken in the skillet, turning once, until browned, 7-8 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, then the chicken broth, apricots and thyme. Cover the pan, lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the parsley, chives, lemon peel and lemon juice. Let cool for a couple of minutes before serving.
Time to veg out—the healthy way. If you’ve read any health magazine or website lately, you’ve surely heard of kale, a rising celebrity in the nutrition world. Kale sounds like something that would be floating at the bottom of the ocean, but in fact it is a cruciferous vegetable. Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts, are all loaded with vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals—meaning they have anti-inflammatory, detoxifying, cancer-preventing health benefits. Certified Nutrition Specialist and weight coach Susan Holmberg says that kale “is at the top of the nutrition hit list, and easy to prepare in tasty ways.” Check out her crispy kale recipe below!
Courtesy of: susanholmberg.com
Put down those Doritos and try Susan Holmberg’s kale chips instead. At only about 60 calories per cup, these chips are made purely of kale and olive oil, meaning they’re not just good for you but they’re also super easy to make.
- 1 bag washed chopped kale
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
Toss the kale in a large bowl with olive oil Spread out on cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until the edges of the kale start to crisp.
Makes about 8 cups.
Whole-Grain Spaghetti With Garlicky Kale & Tomatoes
Courtesy of: realsimple.com
Spaghetti usually gets a bad rap, but this recipe shows that there are definitely ways to make it healthy. Viva la pasta!
- 6 oz. whole-grain spaghetti
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 bunch kale, thick stems removed and leaves torn into bite-sized pieces (about 8 cups)
- 2 pints grape tomatoes, halved
- 1/3 cup chopped roasted almonds
- 1/4 cup grated cheese, plus more for serving
Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve ¼ cup of the cooking water, drain the pasta, and return it to the pot. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ? teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the kale and cook, tossing frequently, until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook, tossing frequently, until the tomatoes begin to soften, 1 to 2 minutes more. Add the kale mixture, almonds, cheese, and reserved cooking water to the pasta and toss to combine. Serve with additional cheese.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to fruits and vegetables, you really can’t go wrong. By the end of the summer, you’ll be stocked up on tons of new nutritious recipes to ensure that you not only eat your greens, but you eat your reds, your yellows, your oranges, your blues, your pinks, and your purples too—a much healthier way to taste the rainbow.