I have always prided myself on being a healthy eater. I grew up with a mom who was (is) quite the cook and because of that I have always had an open mind about different kinds of foods as well as a general distaste for fast food. Now, I completely understand that growing up in a home that had access to healthy food from the grocery store was a privilege. I am by no means suggesting I have a superiority complex over those who grew up under different circumstances. I also want to disclose that I do enjoy junk food at times and know that some foods nourish the mind more than the body and that is 100% okay. That being said I am glad to have the nutrition habits I do because I know that it helps me look and feel the way I want to. I don’t have to force myself to eat healthy because most of the time healthy food is what I crave. I never feel deprived from not hitting up a drive-through. I think that whatever you are in the habit of eating is what you end up craving. So if you want to start creating some healthy eating habits, any or all of these super foods would be a great addition to your diet.
Note: The word “super food” is technically a buzzword and doesn’t have one set definition. Generally though, a super food is regarded as a food that is nutrient dense that is beneficial to overall health. Many times super foods will prevent cancer and diseases.
- Nutritional Yeast
Now, I understand that the word yeast isn’t exactly making your mouth water but hear me out because I could go on and on about my love for these cheesy/nutty yellow flakes. Nutritional yeast is the inactive form of yeast called Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The active form is what is used to make bread and beer. You see? Delicious in all forms. Nutritional yeast is PACKED with nutrients. Eating a 1.5 tbsp serving of this will get you 8 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and a whole lot of B vitamins. Nutritional yeast is a staple in many vegans’ diets as a substitute for cheese and can commonly be found sprinkled on top of popcorn. I myself am not vegan as the thought of subbing cheese out is incredibly depressing but I still love to utilize these yeasty little bastards. I love butter noodles more than I love the majority of my extended family and I have found that nutritional yeast adds enough protein and nutrients while enhancing the taste of the noodles. It isn’t too pricey and can usually be found in the health food aisle of the grocery store.
- Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are a great way to add fiber to your diet. Just 2 tbsp of chia seeds yields a whopping 11 grams of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber is beneficial because it pulls water in and the chia seeds expand in your stomach, slowing down digestion, and helping you feel full longer. Some people put chia seeds in water but if you find chunky water disgusting like any other reasonable person; try putting it on top of yogurt or blend it into a smoothie. Besides fiber, chia seeds contain several vitamins and minerals as well as a notable amount of protein.
I get so frustrated when people don’t want to eat fruit because there is sugar in it. Yes, there is sugar in it, but it is naturally occurring sugar. According to TheConversation “Evidence shows that the health risks from sugars, such as tooth decay and unhealthy weight gain, are related to consuming too many free sugars in the diet, not from eating sugars that are naturally present in fruits or milk.” With that being said, berries are full of antioxidants, nutrients, and have an impressive list of potential benefits including preventing diabetes and heart disease.
If you are ever bored of rice and/or want to add some extra protein to a meal, quinoa is the way to go. First step, figure out how to pronounce it. This is important because you don’t want to be like me and try to order it at Mustard Seed Market and be corrected in a very condescending manner by a white guy with dreads. Once you figure that out, you’re all set to start enjoying this super food. Quinoa is a complete protein which means it has all 9 types of amino acids (the building blocks of protein). It also has a decent amount of fiber, iron, and magnesium. Besides the benefits, it is easy to incorporate into meals. My favorite quinoa recipe can be found here.
When I was a kid my grandma was making chili and sent me down to the basement to grab her kidney beans but dummy little me grabbed garbanzo beans (also known as chickpeas) instead. Now my grandma uses chickpeas every time she makes chili. Which makes sense because chickpeas are one of the most delicious (natural) foods on the planet. I say natural because I by no means intend to judge the chickpea against a doritos locos taco. What I will say though is that for not having a cheesy Doritos shell, chickpeas are freaking delicious. There are so many ways to eat them. I personally love hummus, falafel, and even eating them straight from the can. They are a great source of protein, fiber, and many other nutrients.
I was vegetarian for about 3 years before I switched to pescetarian. By going pescetarian my goal was to have more options at restaurants and just make my diet easier to accommodate. This is where salmon and my love story begins. Salmon is full of B vitamins, potassium, and omega-3 fatty acids. The fish has been shown to promote heart, brain, and skin health. Besides that it is easy to cook and there are so many great ways to enjoy it. My go-to is garlic butter salmon. I have also heard great things about air fryer salmon but an air fryer remains on my kitchen wish list so I can’t officially back that up.
Yes, you can eat eggs even if you don’t eat meat. That may seem obvious but I’ve had to explain this on several occasions. Chickens do hatch from eggs but the ones out of the carton are unfertilized. So in the same way I am not walking around with 300,000 babies inside of my ovaries, I am not eating chicken when I eat eggs. With that being said I really do love eggs. I eat them pretty much every morning; over easy with toast. Eggs are very nutrient dense and a great source of protein to start the day. Personally, the yolk is essential for me so I don’t bother removing it even though it gets a bad rep for having a lot of cholesterol. The yolk is not actually bad for the average person. In fact there have been studies that have shown the fat in egg yolks actually help the body keep bad cholesterol under control.
Tofu is ugly. Let me just start by admitting that. I think the look of it and perhaps the texture is the reason tofu gets a bad rep. These are the reasons I myself didn’t try tofu for a long time. All that did to me was take years of tofu enjoyment off of my life. Don’t be like me, try tofu now. Tofu can easily be swapped in in the place of meat making it a great choice for vegans, vegetarians, pediatricians, or anyone trying to cut back on their meat consumption. It is relatively tasteless so there are endless possibilities, just season it how you like. Tofu is an anti inflammatory, high in calcium, low calorie, and a great source of plant protein. I like to saute tofu, boil some rice, and add my favorite sauce for a quick and easy healthy meal.