Regardless of how much time you actually spend cooking, the kitchen is a constantly traveled space. You grab a granola bar on your way to the office, spread peanut butter on toast after a workout, pour a glass of wine before bed; the minutes add up. So why shouldn’t your kitchen be filled with items that not only taste great, but help your body as well?
There’s a lot of hype around “Superfoods” these days, and with good reason. A few simple additions to this week’s grocery list can help increase metabolism, fight bad bacteria, and boost daily protein levels.
Whether your fridge is overflowing with takeout containers or you just pulled a loaf of homemade bread from the oven, you need these 5 superfoods:
- Coconut Oil (refined for neutral flavor; unrefined for that unique coconut taste). Full of medium chain triglycerides –or healthy fats– coconut oil helps the body efficiently burn energy. Coconut oil also can help fight off yeasts, fungi, and bad bacteria. It also helps increase metabolism and can improve insulin use within the body. Try adding a spoonful or two to a smoothie or bowl of oatmeal. You can even use it to make a frothy latté if you have a blender.
- Nut/Seed Butters. With tons of protein, fiber, and healthy fats, no-sugar-added nut butters (like almond, peanut, pecan, hazelnut, and pistachio) are a great way to fill those in-between mealtime stomach grumbles. Seed butters like sunflower and sesame (also known as Tahini) are a good solution for those with nut allergies. Spread on fruit and crackers or straight from the jar, nut butters make a perfect snack. While most grocery stores carry nut butters, you can easily make them yourself! Just place 3 cups of roasted nuts or seeds in a food processor and blend to desired consistency.
- Chia Seeds. They may be tiny, but these seeds pack a punch! Adding a teaspoon of chia seeds to any meal gives an extra dose of fiber, protein, omega-3s, calcium, magnesium, iron– and that’s just the start of the list! With their mild flavor, chia seeds can be added to sweet or savory dishes. Try sprinkling them on a salad with dinner or a morning bowl of yogurt and granola. Or try making them the star of the dish as a healthy pudding! My favorite way to use chia seeds? As an egg replacer for baked goods. When mixed with liquid, chia seeds gel and become a sticky substitute for eggs. Just mix 1 tablespoon of ground chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water, stir well, and let set for 15 minutes.
- Quinoa. Though it’s technically a seed, quinoa is served like a grain. With a higher protein content than brown rice, millet, and barley, quinoa is a perfect side that tastes as great as it is for your body. While white quinoa is fairly mild in taste, red and black quinoa have a great nutty flavor, which works in sweet dishes like breakfast porridge or savory meals like grain salads. The best way to cook it: rinse 1 cup of quinoa well in a fine mesh sieve, then place it in a saucepan with a little less than 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then cover the pot and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let stand for 5 minutes, then uncover and fluff quinoa with a fork.
- Apple Cider Vinegar. It’s not as popular as balsamic or red wine, but you can’t beat the health benefits of apple cider vinegar. While it makes for a great-tasting base in dressings and sauces, this liquid can also help regulate your skin’s pH balance (put it on a cottonball and use like toner), whiten teeth, and rid your body of candida. Before breakfast, try mixing 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with 8 ounces of water and a squeeze each of honey and lemon for a tonic that will aid digestion, banish bad breath, and keep you satisfied until lunch.
Text by Rebecca Firkser
Rebecca Firkser is a New Jersey-based food writer and blogger. A recent graduate of Smith College, she studied Theatre Design and Art History. She dreams of someday being as quick-witted as Pete Wells. Check out her food writing and photography on her blog, Spices and Spatulas, and follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.