Time to increase our intake of vitamin rich fruits and vegetables!
Summer (coming right up!!) is a natural time to put into practice some of the healthiest nutrition intentions without sacrificing pleasure.
With the growing abundance of fresh local food, we can easily increase our intake of vitamin rich fruits and vegetables, minimize our consumption of high glycemic index processed foods, and eat a greater variety of diverse foods to maximize our nutrient intake
As the weather warms, our bodies are physiologically inclined to eat lighter and healthier (think cravings for salads and smoothies). From a Chinese medicine perspective this is the appropriate time of year to expand our over-wintered hibernating horizons with some vibrant raw foods without compromising digestion.
The good news is we don't have to live off of nuts and berries! We know that a well-balanced energy-enhancing diet is one that can include complex carbs alongside high quality protein and fats rich in anti-inflammatory fatty acids like the omega 3s found in cold water fish and flaxseeds. What we may not know is there are a plethora of not so commonplace plant foods extremely high in protein and omega 3s that are primed to feature prominently on a plate near you. While spring and fall are great times for cleansing or detox, summer is an ideal time to introduce some nutrient dense foods as a powerful accompaniment to the fresh produce bounty available to us this energetic season.
10 Super Foods to Add to Your Diet
Amaranth: This grain is actually a seed—higher in calcium than milk, higher in iron than spinach, and high in potassium, phosphorus and vitamins A and C. It contains 17% protein and is rich in the amino acid lysine, an amino acid rare in vegetarian diets but important for immune system health and building lean muscle mass. It is also delicious as a creamy breakfast cereal.
Apple Cider Vinegar: Made from fermented apples, apple cider vinegar adds a lot of potassium to salad dressing and sauces. It contains malic acid, which aids in digestion, so it’s acidic but becomes alkaline forming upon digestion. One to two teaspoons in a shot glass of water 15 minutes before meals increases HCL (stomach acid), which is critical for good digestion.
Chia Seeds (Salvia hispanica): High in essential fatty acids (gram per gram eight times more omega-3s than salmon!) and doesn’t need to be ground. It’s also extremely nutrient dense and is especially high in magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron and is packed with antioxidants. Sprinkle on salads, cereals and smoothies (like you would flax). These are best ground for good digestion and elimination.
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Coconut Oil: This medium-chain triglyceride oil is excellent for high-heat cooking because it is not converted into a trans fat. Great for weight management and keeping candida overgrowth at bay. Use it for roasting vegetables, on popcorn instead of butter, and in Asian cooking like stir fries and curries when you don’t want an olive oil flavour interference.
Hemp Seeds: This is a nutrient-rich whole food in its natural state, and, unlike so many other vegan sources of protein, there is no need to create isolates or extracts from it. The protein is complete, containing all the essential amino acids, and is notably more alkaline than most proteins. Sprinkle hemp seeds on everything—summer salads, cereal, stir fries and steamed greens. They’re also excellent in veggie burgers, dips/spreads, cookies, bars, spice rubs like dukkha, and anywhere you would use sesame seeds or want an extra protein boost. Here is my recipe, as published in Eco Parent Magazine, for Heart Hemp Milk.
Kombu: This high-protein sea vegetable contains glutamic acid (a safe and natural form of MSG) so it’s great for adding flavour. It boosts stocks, soups and stews, tenderizes beans (use in soaking and cooking) and makes legumes more easily digestible. I love adding beans like chickpeas and white beans to "protein up" my summer salads and kombu makes soaking and cooking my own big pot make a lot of sense versus buying cans. Soaking your own dried beans you buy in bulk results in reduced gaseousness and saving on the cost + hindrance of cans (financial, environmental and schlepping!)
Miso: Made primarily from soybeans, miso also contains rice, barley or other grains. It’s fermented and has beneficial bacteria, so you don’t want to boil it. It’s a great source of low-calorie protein (2g of protein in a 30-cal (2 tsp) serving). Use as a soup base, or try a teaspoon in salad dressings, gravies (like the famous Naam Miso Gravy!), or even marinades for tofu or fish.
Nutritional Yeast: This single-cell fungus grown on molasses is a complete protein, is satisfying and makes for a great cheese alternative. It’s a rich source of B vitamins, especially B12, which is rare in plant sources. Try sprinkling it on salads, popcorn, or mixing half and half with hemp seeds for a dairy-free nutrient-rich Parmesan alternative. The famous Hollyhock Dressing features this awesome ingredient! Here is my recipe as published in Eco Parent Magazine for Hollyhock Dressing.
Quinoa: Not a true grain, quinoa has high levels of protein, B vitamins, lysine, iron and potassium. It’s wonderful as a fluffy warm breakfast cereal, as a side dish instead of rice, in a pilaf, in loaves and in baking. I also love this on my hot/cold salad bowls in the summer for raising the protein content- with Hollyhock Dressing on top, even more divine! Here is my recipe as published in Eco Parent Magazine for Quinoa Turkey Burgers.
Ume Plum Vinegar: This beautiful tart and tangy purple hued salty vinegar is great for sprinkling on greens after cooking. It increases the bioavailability of vitamins, minerals in these vegetables (makes them easier for your body to use those nutrients!), and it’s an incredible flavour enhancer really livens up salad dressings, marinades; it really kicks up a soup/stew/sauce if it is missing something.
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