Love Yourself with Superfoods
Whether you are looking to introduce new foods to your family’s diet or in search of creative recipes, this list of 40 superfoods are sure to inspire your tastebuds. With Spring (hopefully) budding any day now, and in preparation for a healthy and fit Summer, now is a perfect time to upgrade your diet with fresh superfoods. Health starts from the inside out, nurturing our bodies with foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These foods all offer amazing nutritional benefits to help make you and your family feel their best and love their bodies.
Acai – Containing more antioxidants than any other berry, these purple berries originally from Brazil, have properties shown to help with signs of aging, promotes weight loss, boosts the immune system, helps prevent or clear acne breakouts, and so much more. In your blender, blend 1 packet of acai puree (usually in the freezer section of most grocery stores), with your choice of liquid (1/4 cup) and 1/2 frozen banana to create a smoothie bowl. Top your bowl off with granola, shredded coconut, more fruit, or a drizzle of honey.
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) – Alone, ACV, can be quite potent. As an adult, I do drink vinegar with 8oz. of lemon water as part of my morning routine to rev up my metabolism. However, for your family, especially for kids, ACV is great to make with olive oil and mustard as a salad dressing. AVC regulates blood sugar levels, as a result curbing hunger and promoting a healthy weight, helps with inflammation and acne breakouts, boosts gut health and improves digestion, and so much more. Paired with other superfoods, like garlic, olive oil and mustard, you can make a simple salad dressing that is doing your family all kinds of health magic.
1 garlic clove , minced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1-2 tablespoons raw honey , as needed for sweetness
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper , to taste
Place all ingredients in a glass container and shake well to combine. Stays in the fridge for 1 week.
Avocado – The goooood kind of fat. Avocados are pure magic. They contain monounsaturated fats, helpful to support brain and heart health. Cooking with avocado oil has a high smoke point, meaning you can cook at high temps without risking the integrity of the healthy fat qualities. In laments terms, avoid turning a healthy fat into an unhealthy, trans fat. Avocados are super versatile, from dips, sandwich spreads, and salad toppings, to adding into smoothies for an extra creaminess factor and even incorporating into baking or making into ice cream!
Beets – High in immune-boosting vitamin C, fiber, and essential minerals like potassium (essential for healthy nerve and muscle function) and manganese (which is good for your bones, liver, kidneys, and pancreas). Beets are usually enjoyed as is and in a salad; but, bring out the sweetness by roasting them in the oven. For your family, get super creative with this beautiful beet hummus. (Recipe and photo: Minimalist Baker)
Blueberries – Before we heard of Acai and Goji berries, blueberries are the more commonly known antioxidant power fruit. They are the perfect snack alone, amazing in smoothies, or great as a yogurt topping.
Cauliflower – Cauliflower is a member of the cruciferous vegetables family, along with broccoli, cabbage, kale, and brussel sprouts. Extensive studies suggest that cruciferous vegetables are an excellent source of natural antioxidants, essential vitamins, fiber, soluble sugars, and minerals. Cauliflower in particular is believed to be so beneficial due to its special combination of phytochemicals called carotenoids, tocopherols and ascorbic acid — all forms of antioxidants. These antioxidants are currently showing signs of preventing chronic diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders and various forms of cancers. If steamed or roasted cauliflower is not the most appealing to your kids, try it mashed! Just like mashed potatoes. I am currently obsessed with Healthy with Nedi’s mashed cauliflower recipe. The addition of turmeric, ghee, and greek yogurt increases the flavor, creaminess, and of course, the nutritional value.
Cayenne – Its ability to stimulate circulation and eliminate acidity, cayenne pepper helps restore the circulatory system by opening the capillaries and regulating blood sugar; it also helps the digestive system that moves bacteria and toxins out of the body.
Try this homemade taco seasoning!
Chia seeds – One of the best super foods on the list. These little seeds contain a huge amount of of fiber (11g per 2 Tbs.)! Fiber helps to control hunger and maintain weight loss. They are also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which increase the good cholesterol in our bodies and protect the heart. Add 1-2 Tbs. to a smoothie or make chia seed pudding for a sweet snack.
Simple Chia Seed Pudding (makes 3 servings)
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup organic, whole chia seeds
1 Tbs. pure maple syrup
Optional toppings (per serving): 1 Tbs. unsweetened shredded coconut and/or t tsp. cacao nibs
Combine all ingredients (minus toppings) in a large bowl, stir well and let sit for 3 minutes. Divide evenly into 3 small glass containers, cover, and store in fridge for at least 1 hour.
Cinnamon – A powerful, sweet, and warming spice that has been used around the world for its medicinal purposes. According to Dr. Axe, “A little bit of cinnamon goes a long way, and its antioxidant abilities are what makes it especially beneficial to include in your diet. As little as ½ teaspoon of cinnamon daily can have positive effects on blood sugar levels, digestion, immunity and more; however, stronger doses are also extremely beneficial for improving heart disease risk and cutting your risk of diabetes, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.” My current favorite snack is to sprinkle on top of apple slices. It tastes just like apple pie, without the added sugar.
Coconut – Every health expert is going (coco)nuts for this healthy fat recently. Flour, sugar, oil, milk, water, a crunchy snack – coconut is being used as a healthy alternative for practically everything these days. My preferred use is coconut oil, it has a higher smoke point than olive oil – which means it can cook at higher temperatures without burning your food. Coconut oil also has benefits of reducing bad cholesterol and increasing calorie burn. Coconut oil is also becoming a popular skin care treatment for softer and smoother skin and is safe to use on all accounts.
Collard Greens – “Eat your greens!” – It’s a love/hate relationship. We all know increasing greens in our diet is important, but how can we do this in tasty ways? Collard greens are large, dark green leaves, a bit more sturdy than your typical romaine leaf. If you are getting a bit tired of salads or want to provide a healthy sandwich alternative in your kids lunch box, a collard greens wrap is an awesome swap. Collard greens provide a high dose of vitamin C, detox support, and fight caner.
Dark chocolate (cacao) – Yes, chocolate is on the list! Keep in mind, it is dark chocolate (above 50% cacao) or raw cacao powder. One of the highest antioxidant foods on the planet, raw cacao is a heart-healthy, disease fighting, mood boosting powerhouse. For the next Nor’easter, which hopefully doesn’t happen again until 2019, try my homemade hot chocolate.
Eggs (whole or egg whites) – High in protein and low in calorie, eggs (scrambled, poached, hard boiled) offer a lot of protein without making you feel weighed down like some other animal proteins may. A couple of my favorite ways to enjoys eggs are (1) scrambling 1 whole egg and 1 egg white, cooked in ghee, and served over avocado toast or (2) a hard-boiled egg chopped in a salad.
Flax seed – Similar to chia seeds, flax seeds are high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.
Try this recipe: Peanut Butter Coconut Overnight Oats (makes 2 servings)
2/3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 scoop Vanilla plant-based protein powder
2 Tbs. all-natural peanut butter
2 Tbs. ground, organic flax seeds
2 Tbs. pure maple syrup
3 Tbs. organic, unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir well.
- Split between two glass jars and store in fridge for up to 5 days.
Garlic – I use garlic in ALL my cooking. It enhances flavor, stimulates digestion, and has been proven to help fight everything from the common cold to cancer. Try this recipe for a healthy take on General Tso’s Chicken: Garlic chicken bites
Ginger – Similar to garlic, ginger is a powerful addition to many recipes to enhance flavor, stimulate digestion, and is soothing for nausea and stomach pains. Ginger can also be found in the above chicken recipe. Or add whole pieces of garlic, chicken, and halved lemons, to a basic broth to create a soothing and slimming soup for fighting colds and infections.
Grapefruit – Metabolism boosting, cancer fighting, super high in Vitamin C, and providing health benefits for the skin, your grandparents had it right when they said having half a grapefruit in the morning is important. (Did your grandparents say that? I don’t know, just sounds like something an older generation would say.) Starting your morning off with fruit is great way to fire up the metabolism, especially fruits high in Vitamin C to keep the immune system strong. Keep your metabolism revving by adding a little protein for breakfast. . .
Greek yogurt – . . .speaking of healthy protein for breakfast, greek yogurt is high in protein and low in sugar. Buy the plain version to keep added ingredients to a minimum and add your own, portion-controlled, toppings like berries, granola, and a drizzle of honey.
Hemp seeds – Another super seed rich in healthy fats, essential fatty acids, and many other vitamins and minerals. Hemp seeds are also a great protein source for vegetarians and vegans. Try hemp milk, a perfect dairy free milk alternative with a very mild, nutty flavor. A friend of mine also loves mixing hemp, chia, and flax seeds into her peanut butter or jam for a nutrient dense pb&j sandwich.
Himalayan pink salt – Pink salt has become another major trend lately; however, it has been used for its medicinal properties in Eastern cultures for centuries. Incredibly high in its mineral properties, due to unrefined processing, switch out white table salt for pink salt in your everyday cooking and seasoning.
Jicama – Somewhere between an apple and a turnip, jicama is a water-packed, crunchy root vegetable. According to Dr. Axe, jicama is “composed of about 86 percent to 90 percent water, so it’s naturally low in calories, natural sugars and starch. . .It’s also a good source of immune system-boosting nutrients such as vitamin C, magnesium, potassium and fiber.” I love using jicama as an alternative to chips for dipping into hummus or guacamole.
Kale – If you or your child is a vegetarian, avoids eating red meat, and/or has a natural iron deficiency, kale surprisingly has more iron per calorie than beef. Additionally, kale is high in many other vitamins, such as A and C, and minerals like calcium. Try this kale chip recipe for a healthy, crunchy and savory snack:
Nacho-Average Kale Chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Wash and dry kale, break into chip size pieces.
Drizzle kale with 1 tbs olive oil and sprinkle lightly with sea salt and 3 Tbs. Nutritional Yeast.
You may add additional seasonings like cumin, garlic powder, or crushed red pepper flakes as well. Toss well.
Bake until just crisped ~10 to 15 minutes.
Lemons – Low in sugar and amazing for detoxification and digestion. After any meal, hot water with a squeeze of lemon will help with bloat and that post-big-meal tired feeling. Lemon with green tea is also a great way to start your morning and get your system moving.
Lentils – Tiny but mighty! Lentils are super high in protein and contain a soluble fiber that help lower cholesterol, support heart health, and stabilize blood sugars to help with hunger control and promote weight loss. Lentil soup is my fave! Try this recipe: Morroccan-Inspired Lentil Stew
Mint tea – Similar to hot water with lemon, peppermint tea aids digestion and helps with de-bloating. Having a cup after dinner has become part of my nightly routine for a restful night’s sleep.
Mushrooms – In my opinion, mushrooms became the superfood trend of 2017. I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan of these little guys, but I saw more recipes using all different types of mushrooms and more teas and powders come out on the market promoting the amazing health benefits of magical mushrooms. In general, all mushrooms are high in antioxidants and disease fighting nutrients. The “meatier” mushrooms, like Portobello, are often used as a hamburger or meat substitution. Then we have Shiitake mushrooms and other smaller varieties that are popular in stir-fry and easy cooking. Ancient cultures and Eastern medicines have been relying on the natural benefits of mushrooms for centuries, a newer trend are the so-called magical mushrooms, being made into powders and marketed for making into tea, coffee, or hot chocolate. Depending on the mushroom mix, you will have different experiences. Lion’s mane and Chaga mushrooms are said to support productivity and focus; Reishi mushrooms are said to help de-stress and unwind; and Cordyceps is said to promote energy, especially for athletes or high-performing people. I say as long as the powders or teas you buy are all-natural, give them a try! Be mindful of added ingredients and sweeteners. And definitely try experimenting with cooking a variety of mushrooms to see if you find one or a few that you enjoy eating.
Nuts (Almonds, walnuts, brazil) – High in protein and healthy fats, 1/4 c. serving is a perfect afternoon snack. Just be mindful of portion size, as the calories to add up. I like to buy bulk portions of roasted, unsalted nuts and make my own trail mix. Then, I portion out individual servings into ziploc bags for easy grab-and-go snacks. I also LOOOOOVE nut butters of all kind and drizzle 1-2 Tbs. on whatever I can, from oatmeal to waffles to apple slices.
Try this recipe: spiced roasted nuts
Old-fashioned rolled oats – Perfect for breakfast to make oatmeal, as is for baking, or blend in a food processor to make a flour and try in baking recipes as a flour alternative. Whole grain rolled oats are filling and heart healthy.
Pomegranate seeds – Super high in antioxidants, it is amazing how many juicy benefits are packed into these tiny seeds. They make a great snack to eat alone, add a bright pop of flavor by adding on top of a salad or mixing into yogurt, or get creative and add to new recipes.
Try this recipe: Fresh and Fruity Guacamole
Pumpkin – A very seasonal food, pumpkins are a major reason I look forward to Fall. Besides being incredibly tasty and naturally sweet, pumpkins (the “meat” and seeds) are full of nutrition. High in fiber, just one cup of mashed pumpkin has only 50 calories but three grams of Fiber. Pumpkin seeds have about 2 grams of Fiber per ounce. Pumpkins are also high in Vitamin A and their natural orange color is due to beta-carotene, both vitamin and antioxidant support healthy eyes and improved vision. Beta-carotene also has cancer protective properties.
Try this recipe: Chickpea pasta was creamy pumpkin sauce (Or healthier mac and cheese, as I like to call it, since I add so much parmesan cheese).
Quinoa (keen-wa) – Appearing like a grain, with a toasty and slightly nutty flavor, quinoa is actually a seed. Quinoa is incredibly high in protein and contains all nine essential amino acids; “essential” amino acids are nutrients not produced in the body, so it is important we find ways to consume them. Quinoa provides more protein than many animal-proteins and serves up more nutrients. Quinoa is also high in fiber, iron, magnesium, and manganese. These minerals support metabolic function, support healthy bones and joints, boost energy and mood, and support healthy blood circulation and fast wound healing. Quinoa is incredibly versatile; I love using it as a rice substitute and to add plant-based protein to my salads. Try this recipe: Quinoa Burrito Bowl
Raspberries – Along with acai and blueberries, raspberries are high in antioxidants and low in sugar. If you are trying to manage you or your child’s sugar and/or carb intake, but do not want to eliminate fruit completely, berries are the star of the show to choose from. Pop a dark chocolate chip in the top, and maybe dip in whipped cream, for a healthier dessert.
Salmon – Salmon, and many fishes in general, are an excellent lean protein. Salmon in particular is a superfood because it contains Omega-3 essential fatty acids. Similar to the essential amino acids discussed in quinoa, Omega-3 is a healthy fat that is not produced in the body, so we need to find foods that provide this rich nutrient. Omega-3 benefits include supporting heart health, such as preventing heart disease, and improving mental health function – especially overcoming symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Spinach – You may be surprised to learn that spinach is a great source of protein, containing 3 grams per half cup. Or if you’re a Popeye fan, maybe you’re not so surprised. Spinach is a small, dark leafy green that can be enjoyed raw and tossed in a salad, cooked and served sautéed with garlic and oil, or is great in a smoothie due to its mild taste. Spinach is also high in iron and magnesium.
Strawberries – Line them up: we have acai, blueberries, raspberries, and now strawberries. Another high in antioxidant and low in sugar fruit. Strawberries are incredibly versatile, but I love them in a smoothie. Blend with other superfoods like 1 cup almond milk, a handful of spinach, 1/2 cup steamed cauliflower (no flavor and adds creaminess), and a handful of other berries, with maybe just a squeeze of honey, for a berry satisfying smoothie.
Try this recipe: Chocolate-covered Strawberry Smoothie
Sweet potato – Unlike its counterpart the white potato, sweet potatoes have many nutritional benefits for your body and waistline. Sweet potatoes are high in Vitamins A and C, making them immune-boosting, disease-fighting, metabolism boosting superfoods. Sweet potatoes help with stabilizing blood sugar levels, boost brain function, promote vision health, aid in weight loss, and enhance immunity. One cooked, medium sized sweet potato is only 100 calories. Because these are still fairly high in carbs compared to other vegetables, for a well-balanced dinner plate, only eat half a sweet potato, bulk up with another green vegetable, and finish off with some lean protein. Try one of my favorite recipes:
Oven-baked Sweet Potato Fries
1 container of pre-sliced or 2 – 3 large sweet potatoes (sliced length wise to form sticks).
Toss in 1 Tbs. olive oil and season generously with salt, pepper, and paprika.
Preheat oven to 400 – 450 degrees. Line coated sweet potato sticks evenly on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, flip sp sticks over, then bake for another 25 – 30 minutes. Or until crisp and golden brown on all sides.
Tomatoes – Tomatoes are the major dietary source of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to many health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. They are also a great source of vitamin C, potassium, folate and vitamin K. My favorite way to enjoy tomatoes are either roasting them in the oven and tossing in a pasta salad or made into a homemade tomato basil sauce.
Turmeric – Turmeric is a deep-golden/yellow Indian spice, most commonly known for its super-medicinal properties. Of all the ways turmeric is used to help manage pain and disease, turmeric is best known for being anti-inflammatory. “Increasingly common diseases today — such as cancer, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, high cholesterol and chronic pain — are all associated with inflammation” (Dr. Axe). Further, the powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties have proven effective in treating multiple skin conditions. “Turmeric benefits for skin include increasing “glow and luster” of the skin, speeding up wound healing, calming the pores to decrease acne and acne scarring and controlling psoriasis flares” (Dr. Axe).
Walnuts – What do walnuts resemble? Little brains, of course. Walnuts have a significantly high concentration of DHA, a type of Omega-3 fatty acid. DHA has been shown to protect brain health in newborns, improve cognitive performance in adults, and prevent age-related cognitive decline.
Watermelon – Watermelon is low-calorie fruit made up of about 92% water. Water-packed fruits and vegetables, such as cucumbers and jicama, are good for for de-bloating and their slimming, weight-loss benefits. Combine this super-fruit with the super food powers of melted dark chocolate, for a tasty and fruity pop.
Zucchini – Similar to watermelon, zucchini is 95% packed with water, making this a super-slimming food for your weight loss goals. I love to use spiralized zucchini as a pasta substitute and mix with a hearty meat sauce. Try this recipe: Zucchini Linguine Turkey Bolognese
I would love to know your favorite super foods and super food recipes. Comment below with the TLC community. Happy FriYAY, little clementines! Have a beautiful weekend <3
* Certain recipes and nutritional information found on DrAxe.com, ToneItUp.come, HealthyWithNedi.com, and MinimalistBaker.com Most recipes can be found right here, at thelittleclementine.com