If you are looking for ways to improve your health, food is a great place to start. As the old saying goes you are what you eat. To be your best, choose nutrient dense foods like the five super stars listed below. A healthy diet that includes fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals has been associated with a decreased risk of cancer, heart disease and chronic illness such as diabetes. Add these five foods to your diet and you’ll be on a great start to good health.
Beans are versatile, inexpensive and high in fiber. That means they can help manage your food budget as well as your waistline. I heard about this simple and fool proof preparation from host Lynne Rosetto Kasper on a recent episode of The Splendid Table.
Simple Slow Cooker Beans
Rinse a one pound bag of dried beans (no need to soak). Place in a slow cooker with chopped onions, salt and pepper to taste, two inches of water (enough to cover the beans) and a slice or two of bacon or smoked paprika. Kasper advises adding anything acidic (such as tomatoes or vinegar) near the end of cooking. Cook the beans on high for 4 ½ to 5 hours. Enjoy alone, with brown rice or another of your favorite accompaniments.
No time? Try this – Open, drain and rinse a can of white kidney (cannellini) beans. Toss with two handfuls of arugula. Dress with the juice of a lemon and a teaspoon of olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste and top with shaved parmesan cheese. This salad is also good with Italian tuna if you have some on hand – just skip the parmesan.
Tomatoes contain all four carotenoids including a good dose of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. They are also full of potassium and vitamins A, C and E. Here is an easy way to get more of this cancer fighting super food in your diet.
One Pot Pasta – I first saw this recipe in Martha Stewart’s Living Magazine. It is popular on the internet. This one pot wonder is fast, so it can be a healthy weeknight go to for even the busiest families. Serves 4.
12 ounces linguine
12 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
1 onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
2 sprigs basil, plus torn leaves for garnish
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
4 1/2 cups water
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
- Combine pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, red-pepper flakes, basil, oil, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and water in a large straight-sided skillet. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil mixture, stirring and turning pasta frequently with tongs, until pasta is al dente and water has nearly evaporated, about 9 minutes.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper, divide among 4 bowls, and garnish with basil. Serve with oil and Parmesan.
Loaded with antioxidants these juicy pods have anti-inflammatory and cancer fighting properties. Blueberries also protect against heart disease. Choose the darkest berries for greatest health benefits. Opt for frozen if fresh is not available.
Toss some with non-fat Greek yogurt and a tablespoon of ground flax for a healthy breakfast or afternoon snack.
This cruciferous vegetable helps lower cholesterol is an anti-inflammatory and has a positive impact on your detoxification system. Broccoli also supplies vitamins A and K. Enjoy raw in salads or with dips. You can also pair with another superfood, salmon for a meal that packs a big nutritional punch.
Tasty and easy to prepare, salmon is an excellent source of potassium, selenium, vitamin B-12 and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3’s are good for virtually anything that ails you including high blood pressure, depression and arthritis. Real Simple magazine offers this quick recipe that is sure to be a hit.
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 head broccoli, florets only, chopped (about 2 cups)
4 pieces skinless salmon fillet (1 1/4 pounds total)
1 large red onion, cut into 1/4-inch-thick wedges
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
- Heat broiler. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and soy sauce. Set aside.
- Cook the rice according to the package directions, stirring in the broccoli during the last 3 minutes.
- Let the rice and broccoli stand off the heat until the broccoli is tender, about 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
- Meanwhile, place the salmon and onion on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
- Broil until the salmon is opaque throughout, 8 to 10 minutes, spooning half the soy sauce glaze over the fish during the last 2 minutes of cooking.
- Serve the salmon and onion with the rice and the remaining glaze.
To your good health!