Wednesday, July 9, 2008

11 Best Foods

Nutritionist Jonny Bowden, contributed a list to the wellness blog on the New York Times website of the 11 best foods you should be eating but aren't. Here is a revised version of the list (I added some comments/recipes of my own).

1. Beets: Think of beets as red spinach, Dr. Bowden said, because they are a rich source of folate as well as natural red pigments that may be cancer fighters.

How to eat: Fresh, raw and grated to make a salad. Heating decreases the antioxidant power. For a simple single-serving salad, wash and peel one beet, and then grate it on the widest blade of a box grater. Toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the juice of half a lemon.
You can eat the leaves and stems, which are also packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Simply cut off the stems just below the point where the leaves start, and wash thoroughly. They're now ready to be used in a salad. Or, for a side dish, sauté the leaves, along with a minced clove of garlic and a tablespoon of olive oil, in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Cook until the leaves are wilted and the stems are tender. Season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice, and sprinkle with fresh Parmesan cheese.

2. Cabbage: Loaded with nutrients like sulforaphane, a chemical said to boost cancer-fighting enzymes.

How to eat: Asian-style slaw or as a crunchy topping on burgers and sandwiches.

Fabulous Summer Slaw
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar (or mixed with apple cider, sometimes I think I use more vinegar than you're supposed to)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (or 1/2 if you are using powdered)

1/2 head green cabbage, thinly sliced
1/4 head red cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon dry herb/spice of choice (caraway seeds, poppy seeds, celery seeds)
Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk the oil, vinegar and mustard. Combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and toss in the dressing. Refrigerate several hours before serving, it's even better overnight.

3. Swiss chard: A leafy green vegetable packed with carotenoids that protect aging eyes.
How to eat: Chop and saute in olive oil.

Green Eggs
Makes about 2 servings
2 Tbsp oil
1/2 onion, sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 cups washed, chopped chard
4 eggs
salt and pepper to taste
hot sauce, such as sriracha

In large frying pan, sautée onions and garlic in oil until soft. Do not brown garlic. Add greens to pan and continue cooking. Lower heat and cover with lid until greens are soft. In small bowl, scramble eggs, adding to soft, cooked greens. Keep stirring the mixture to cook thoroughly and keep eggs fluffy. Flavor with salt and pepper. Serve with hot sauce.

Use silken tofu for a vegan alternative to the scrambled eggs. Use approximately 1/4 cup of chopped, silken tofu per egg, flavored with turmeric or curry powder.

4. Cinnamon: May help control blood sugar and cholesterol.
How to eat: Sprinkle on coffee or oatmeal.

5. Pomegranate juice: Appears to lower blood pressure and loaded with antioxidants.
How to eat: Just drink it. Find a brand that does not have any added sugars.

6. Dried plums: Okay, so they are really prunes, but they are packed with antioxidants.
How to eat: As an appetizer. Wrap a paper-thin slice of prosciutto around each dried plum and secure with a toothpick. Bake in a 400°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until the plums are soft and the prosciutto is crispy. Most of the fat will cook off, and you'll be left with a decadent-tasting treat that's sweet, savory, and healthy.

7. Pumpkin seeds: The most nutritious part of the pumpkin and packed with magnesium; high levels of the mineral are associated with lower risk for early death.
How to eat: Roasted as a snack, or sprinkled on salad.

8. Sardines: Dr. Bowden calls them “health food in a can.'’ They are high in omega-3’s, contain virtually no mercury and are loaded with calcium. They also contain iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese as well as a full complement of B vitamins.
How to eat: Choose sardines packed in olive or sardine oil. Eat plain, mixed with salad, on toast, or mashed with dijon mustard and onions as a spread. (I just like them straight out of the can).

9. Turmeric: The “superstar of spices,'’ it may have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
How to eat: Mix with scrambled eggs or add to any vegetable dish.

10. Frozen blueberries: Even though freezing can degrade some of the nutrients in fruits and vegetables, frozen blueberries are available year-round and don’t spoil; associated with better memory in animal studies.
How to eat: Blended with yogurt or coconut milk as a smoothie, add some ground flax seeds for added fiber and omega 3s. I like to add them to my oatmeal, with some cinnamon and walnuts.

11. Canned pumpkin: A low-calorie vegetable that is high in fiber and immune-stimulating vitamin A; fills you up on very few calories.
How to eat: Mix with a little butter, cinnamon and nutmeg. I think adding this mixture to applesauce sounds delish, as a perfect side to grilled chicken or pork chops.

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