With superheroes like The Avengers, Ant-Man, and the Fantastic Four taking the world by storm this summer, we were looking for our own ways to be “super” this summer. The answer is…with SUPERFOODS! Powered by a team of nutrient-packed foods, you’ll be kicking butt in no time…without all the Spandex, of course.
We’ve got all the need-to-know info on some of these powerful foods, 15+ recipes you’ll love, and more!
What is a Superfood, anyway?
The “superfood” label is no new term. But if this is your first time learning about it, there are a few crucial things to know. No, it isn’t some sci-fi hybrid food product engineered by a mad scientist. Generally speaking, “superfood” is a basic term for “nutritionally-dense” foods full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that do wonders for our bodies and minds.
Lovingly-known as the “supergrain”, quinoa is a quick-cooking, whole-grain seed. Known for its protein content, this gluten-free food is famous for being one of the only plant foods containing complete proteins, offering all essential amino acids. According to the Whole Grains Council, quinoa is also a good source of iron, fiber, copper, thiamin, and vitamin B6. This jam-packed balance of nutrients can aid in lowering cholesterol, help digestion, and offer many other anti-inflammatory and heart benefits.
Word to the wise: high nutrients don’t always equate to “low-calorie”. While quinoa is said to have as many calories as brown rice, it can still be a great substitute nonetheless!
For more information on QUINOA, check out this great article by Eating Well!
Dishes you’ll CRAVE:
The name says it all. This super salad has all the fiber, protein, and good fats you need to sustain your appetite AND satisfy your cravings for something delicious.
For those chilly nights at home…All the warm, cheesy home-made goodness boosted by broccoli, spinach, and quinoa! Bonus: this recipe calls for pesto – the perfect opportunity to try a KALE PESTO! (See below for the pesto recipe)
Back To Her Root’s Cold Greek Quinoa Salad
Cucumber. Kalamata olives. Feta cheese. Red bell peppers. Sounds like a great reason to get down with quinoa this summer.
Kale has topped the “Superfoods” lists for years. Said to contain well over a day’s worth of vitamins K and A, and more Vitamin C than an orange, kale is known for its star-studded roster of nutrients reported to reduce the risk of certain cancers (including breast and ovarian), provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, and aid in brain development – among others.
Variety is key!
While kale is often the most celebrated, you can actually get many of the same nutritional benefits from its cousins in the cabbage family including broccoli, cauliflower, and collards. Like any food, it is important to include a variety of greens in your diet. Mix any of those mentioned here and include other leafy greens like spinach or swiss chard!
There are numerous types of kale available, the trick is to look for dark, crisp leaves. There are even more ways to incorporate kale in your meal! Sauté in olive oil and garlic for stir-fry or a side of greens, swap out your romaine or iceberg lettuce for kale in salads, or lightly coat chopped kale with olive oil and roast it for kale chips. Kale is also a great green for juices and smoothies, however some have reported digestion issues with raw kale if consumed more than a couple times per week.
Dishes You’ll CRAVE:
Want to “spice” up your healthy habits? With quinoa, black beans, and kale, this dish packs a punch both in taste and goodness! Flavor and nutrients to boot.
Pesto is the best-o. Much simpler to make than a good marinara, yet still so flavorful! As promised, here’s a can’t-beat recipe for a kale pesto sure to have you raving (even if you’ve never had pesto before!).
The recipe that proves eating well can be delicious! All it takes is kale, spinach, a pear, a banana, and some almond milk. “It doesn’t taste like you’re drinking kale and spinach. It tastes like you’re drinking good.” Violá!
You’ve probably seen blueberries on many other superfood lists, and rightly so. Like other berries, they are rich in vitamins, soluble fiber and phytochemicals. The Blueberry Council states that blueberries are “low in fat, but high in vitamin C and dietary fiber, and a good source of manganese.” Among other incredible benefits, these nutrients have been found to help lower your risk of disease and cancer, lower blood pressure, and aid in healthy digestion. Blueberries are also high in antioxidants, which help protect you against harmful disease-enabling “free radicals”.
Dishes You’ll CRAVE:
With just a few ingredients and a few minutes to spare, you can have yourself a simple and healthy frozen yogurt complete with an added toasted-coconut crunch! While the blueberries are the main act here, you can certainly throw in some spinach or kale for bonus goodness!
We just couldn’t resist adding this beauty to the list. The blueberries take on a supporting role in this dish, but are an important flavor component regardless. And who could say no to a little extra sweet-and-tartness?! When it comes to taste, nutrition, and being perfectly-summery, this dish certainly has it all.
It’s hard not to love blueberry muffins. It IS hard to find a recipe without a ton of refined or processed ingredients. If you’ve been looking for a more nutritious way to indulge in this breakfast classic, look no further. This recipe uses whole wheat flour, oats, and blueberries and is naturally-sweetened!
Fish and shellfish are generally nutritionally-rich. Salmon in particular is an excellent source of high-quality protein, vitamins and minerals (including potassium, selenium and vitamin B12). However, the plethora of omega-3 fatty acids salmon contain is the real show-stopper. Omega-3’s are essential fatty acids, meaning the body cannot produce them by itself. These fatty acids are thought to support good brain health, reduce inflammation, improve circulation, help balance cholesterol, and may cut cancer risk. Considering all these extraordinary benefits, it is suggested you eat oily fish (such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring and fresh tuna) at least three times a week.
Check out the BBC’s Good Food article for more information!
Dishes You’ll CRAVE:
No doubt, summer is when the burger reigns king. As tough as it might sound, try to stray away from the turf and go for the surf! This salmon burger will satisfy all your cravings for a juicy, flavorful, and hearty burger, with all of those glorious omega-3’s!
This dish will have you wishing every day were Taco Tuesday. If you’ve had fish tacos (and you should!), you NEED to try this street taco variation. Flavorful and beautifully-complemented with fresh avocado salsa and Cotija cheese? Is it Tuesday yet?
Cooking Classy is hitting it out of the park with the salmon recipes. This one would be PERFECT for a summer party, and here’s why. This is a light and nutrition-packed dish that’s, most importantly, so easy to make! The oven does virtually all of the work – which means less time babysitting the grill, and more time enjoying the party! PLUS: you’ll have a chance to use all of those beautiful in-season summer squashes from your garden (or have a reason to go to the farmer’s market asap).
Full of fiber, oats are also notable as rich sources of magnesium, potassium, and phytonutrients. They contain a special type of fiber that helps to lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease, and their magnesium works to regulate blood-sugar levels. According to the Whole Grain Council, whole oats increase appetite-control hormones, lower bad (LDL) cholesterol, help control blood pressure, and lower risk of diabetes. Oats even have twice the amount of protein than whole wheat or whole corn!
Are all oats “whole oats”?
In short, not necessarily. Whole oats are oats that still contain their endosperm, bran and germ. Oats such as “quick oats” that have been further processed to remove these essential parts also significantly reduce the amount of nutrients the oat contains.The trick is to look for “whole oat” products such as whole grain oat groats, steel cut oats, and thick oats.
Dishes You’ll CRAVE:
Yes all day to overnight oats. Easy to make, a serious time-saver in the morning, nutritious, AND filling. There’s no need to give up your appetite-satisfying oatmeal during the warm weather months! Best of all, it’s great on-the-go! Still not sure? Let this article convince you. Then check out this delightful blueberry version here.
Gluten-free. Whole grain. Dairy-free. Sounds too good to be true right? Think again. These ‘cakes are soft, moist, and as the creator describes, “banana bread in pancake form”. The star here is oat flour, which as the creator explains, is just ground up oats! (Well that’s convenient!) .
You have to try this Whole Foods-inspired snack! As the creator describes, it’s a one-bowl, no mixer, easy recipe that delivers an almost unbelievable combination of sweet/salty and chewy/crunchy. And don’t worry if you’re careful of sugar, this PB&J granola actually doesn’t use jelly – it’s sweetened by dried fruit!
Check out even more satisfying superfoods here: http://magazine.vitality.co.uk/healthy-food-tips-you-must-try-this-summer/
One more note:
Superfoods – Stay informed.
While many of the foods discussed here do offer many important nutrients, consumers should always be wary of food fads and gimmicks. Unfortunately, “superfood” is often used a marketing term – the first general criticism of the term “superfood” is that, while the food itself might be healthful, the processing might not be. Food products that advertise the benefits of superfoods may also hide added sugars and chemicals. The important thing is to be informed and conscious of where your food is coming from. For more on this, check out this article at Live Science.