Super Foods for the New Year

According to published reports and because another new year has just began, someone has again come up with a list of Super Foods which are all supposed to be G-R-E-A-T for you.

Not unlike the Super Heroes of our youthful fancy, they are supposed to fight the evil cancer-causing whatever it is that causes cancer by supplying your body with phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals.

Alrighty… I can believe that.  My mother always told me to eat my vegetables when I was a kid.  This kid was smart enough even then that before Momma could shove it down this little carnivore’s throat, I would gulp down a few greens now and again – chewing and tasting it was another thing though.

And so here I still am – a not so rundown forty-something.  Please don’t ask proof of this last statement – just take my word for it.  Please.

But do these Super Foods TASTE good?  Now that is the question we shall seek to answer today.

First of all, what are these foods and what do they do for us?

APPLES.  Yes, the apple that keeps the doctor away.  Did you know they have flavonoids  The same flavonoids we are so used to associating with chocolate. These little mass of molecules actually have the  ability to modify the body’s reaction to other compounds such as allergens, carcinogens and viruses.  Great, huh?  But not only that, they have other phytonutrients (love that word – can you visualize them fighting the evil cancer cells?) and don’t forget the healthy fiber. You really need fiber in your diet, and trust me, the pills just don’t cut it.  So, grab that apple sitting in your fruit bowl the last two weeks before someone beats you to it.  Two weeks you say?  Well, that’s another advantage to these fruit, they have a very long shelf life.

AVOCADO.  In my youth, I always thought avocados were very rich and not at all good for your health. Turns out the same oil avocados have that make it taste so rich is the same kind of healthy oils you will find in olive oil – monounsaturated fatty acids.  This is the good fat, you guys…the one that will even help lower your bad cholesterol levels.  Not only that, somehow the nutrients in avocados help your body absorb nutrients from other foods like tomatoes.  Mmmm….guacamole anyone?   Next time you are handed a bowl of guacamole, don’t pass it up.

BEANS.  “beans, beans, the musical fruit, the more you eat the more you toot… the more you toot the better you feel. ”   So it’s not a fruit, but you get it.  It has lots of fiber and protein as we always knew.  But who knew they also had anti-oxidants and Vitamin B and potassium?  It impressed me so much, I cooked up some  beans for dinner tonight.

BLUEBERRIES.  Oprah said she always has a bowl of blueberries on her desk at work because it’s so good for you.  Hey if Oprah said it, it must be true.  In fact, these little blue balls pack a ton of anti-oxidants – three different kinds ‘smatter of fact – anthocyanins and other polyphenols, and carotenoids.  I don’t know what on earth they are supposed to do but it all sounds  healthy to me.  Plus, they have Vitamin C and E and the most important thing – they taste good and have very few calories. Just make sure you don’t have any of it stuck between your teeth when you look up from your desk and smile at someone…

DARK CHOCOLATE.  Now, we’re talking… Who knew that something everyone actually loves and feels guilty to eat is good for you?  What – there’s a catch? Yup, dark chocolates only – not milk chocolate or even my favorite white chocolate.  It’s the flavonoids you’re supposed to be after.   These flavonoids help lower your blood pressure and somehow keep your arteries clear.  At last, a good excuse to make my next cup of cocoa extra dark and sinful…..

KIWIS.   Surprise, surprise…this Vitamin C-loaded fruit originally from New Zealand is actually richer in potassium than bananas.  And the skin (minus the fuzz which you can simply rub off) has all the flavonoid oxidants.  Thank goodness kiwis don’t have the same skin as bananas have!

OATS.  Phytonutrients again?  Who knew?  Not just fiber…but also protein, potassium, magnesium and other minerals. I wonder how many people always knew oatmeal lowers your cholesterol and has so much fiber?  My husband and I are one of those countless people who have memories of grandma and oatmeal.  His grandma’s oatmeal was a thick Scottish gruel and ours was a thin porridge with milk and sugar.

SPINACH.  Did you know that boiled spinach makes healthier eating than raw spinach?  So what does spinach have that made Popeye love it so?  Lutein, carotenoids, coenzyme Q (oddly enough, I first heard about this nutrient from Pat Robertson of the 700 CLub), iron and other minerals and something called betaine.  Kale and other dark green, leafy vegetables  also have the same nutrients.  Yep, we’re having Spinach Souffle for lunch tomorrow…with a pie crust made from scratch with the much-maligned but irreplaceable Crisco shortening. *shrinking in shame*

WALNUTS.  I don’t know why they always just cite walnuts in health articles.  What about the other nuts out there?  They can’t be less good for you.  They all have Omega 3 fatty acids, plant sterol and anti-oxidants that walnuts have.  I say here’s to all nuts!

YOGHURT.  Live culture is their claim to fame.  Doesn’t sound very appetizing,  does it? These cultures kill bad bacteria inside of you, aid in digestion, meatbolizes food and tunes up your insides like no other food can.  However, most commercial yoghurts are heated to a point where these live cultures are zapped and aren’t much help to the consumer.  Solution?  Read the label before you reach for that fruit-flavored yoghurt cup in the refrigerated aisle of your grocery store…or make your own yoghurt with blueberries, avocados, apples, walnuts, kiwis, dark chocolate – but please don’t try it with spinach or other  dark green, leafy vegetable…green yoghurt is not as appetizing as you think it could be.

Do these Super Foods taste good? I think so. And here are my suggestions for how you can enjoy them:

Apples – apple dumplings, apple pie, apple betty, apple crumble, apple cider, applesauce.

Avocados – avocado ice cream (everyone has to try this), avocado shake (this one too), guacamole with chips.

Beans – chili, 4-Way Cincinatti Chili, refried beans, chili dogs,

Blueberries – blueberry pies, blueberyy cheesecake, blueberry muffins, blueberry pancakes, bluebery sauce on French vanilla bean ice cream.

Dark Chocolate –  Large, steaming cups of thick, dark cocoa with half and half and Splenda.  Chocolate Tart, chocolate mousse, lava cakes.

Kiwis – in a fruit salad, mixed with a lot of other fruits.

Oats – a warm, thick gruel with some pitted dates or other dried fruits thrown in for flavor.  I prefer mine with milk and sugar, hubby prefers his just lightly salted.

Spinach – Quiche, quiche, quiche… with low fat cottage cheese and low fat swiss cheese so I can have the transfat-laden pie crust.

Nuts – in coffecakes, fruit salads, green salads, or just plain roasted.

Yoghurt – fruit-flavored, BTIC – but the read the labels before you purchase.  Remember, it’s the LIVE cultures you want in your yoghurt – they are no good to you once they’re dead. 

One Reply to “Super Foods for the New Year”

  1. If you put up a fan page on Facebook, I’m going to be your #1 fan! Well, okay probably there are going to be a lot of fans out there, let’s put it that way. I do hope you do because it’s so hard to keep up with everybody and Facebook is where I consolidate “my people” like a giant filing cabinet of friends, family and favorite things. I’d be happy to dump Pinoy Cook for you too because she irritates me with he sidebars having nothing to do with cooking. Thanks! Pen

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