Chef Sazon Recommends 5 Superfoods for a Healthy Diet
Eating healthy can be a challenge, so here are 5 superfoods that you should incorporate while preparing meals. Superfoods have a high amount of nutrients and other unique compounds that are considered to have healing powers. I enjoy cooking with these ingredients often and hopefully you too can incorporate them into your dishes. Look out for the tips accompanying each superfood so you can handle these ingredients properly.
Superfood 1: Kale
Kale is one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet and one of my favorite greens. This cruciferous vegetable is loaded with antioxidants, vitamin C, A, K and it is also a good source of minerals, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus. Kale is associated with the cure and prevention of cancer, eye health, heart disease, blood cholesterol levels and bone health.
BONUS: Easy Kale Recipe, Kale Yeah!
Kale Tip: Kale is best when served raw, that’s when it retains most of its nutrients. Slice thinly and fold into any of your leafy salads or fold into a stew or soup at the last minute for a nice added crunch!
Superfood 2: Quinoa
This tiny, ancient Peruvian seed, which has a mild, nutty flavor, is related to leafy green vegetables and is often used like a grain. Quinoa is as versatile as rice but it has a protein content that is superior to that of most grains, because it contains all the essential amino acids. In particular, quinoa is high in lysine, an amino acid important for tissue growth and repair. It’s also a good source of manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and copper, and it has a high iron content.
Quinoa Tip: Rinse the seeds well. Cook in boiling water seasoned with salt and a bay leaf. Quinoa cooks in 15 minutes, and it’s easy to tell when it’s done because the seeds display a little white thread that curls around them.
Superfood 3: Lentils
A bowl of this ingredient can be dinner! Lentils have the third-highest level of protein of any legume or nut. This high-fiber, protein-rich legume cooks in 20 to 40 minutes and can be used in many preparations such as salads, soups and side dishes. Lentils are an excellent source of molybdenum, a mineral important in the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates and iron. “Health magazine has selected lentils as one of the five healthiest foods.”
Lentil Tip: You can cook a large pot of your favorite lentils in water with a few herbs and aromatic vegetables. Drain them once cooked and you may use them in different dishes through out the week i.e.; toss in a salad, bulk up a rice dish or it can be the leading actor in a soup.
Superfood 4: Avocado
The Avocado is a pitted fruit that provides nearly 20 essential nutrients, including fiber, Vitamin E, B-vitamins and folic acid. They also act as a “nutrient booster” by enabling the body to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients, such as alpha and beta-carotene and lutein, in foods that are eaten with the fruit. Avocados are great for good heart health because they have both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat and contain potassium.
BONUS: How to Slice an Avocado
Avocado Tip: Always use avocados at the peak of their ripeness. If you find that the avocados you have are getting too soft, turn them into a dressing infused with fresh lime juice and extra virgin olive by blending altogether. This will preserve the freshness and can be a great sauce or dressing.
Superfood 5: Salmon
Salmon’s reputation as a healthy food is largely based on its unusually high omega-3 fatty acid content. It is normal for 4 ounces of salmon to contain at least 2 grams of omega-3 fats – more than the average U.S. adult gets from all food over the course of several days. Omega-3 fatty acids help prevent and cure joint cartilage, inflammation, cancer, cardiovascular health and depression. Happy Fish!
Salmon Tip: Always look for the freshest available and wild salmon is best. If it’s fresh then you won’t have that fishy taste. But if you are still weary then marinate the fish in fresh lemon juice, herbs and olive oil before cooking.