Karen Ensle Ed.D., RD, FADA, CFCS
Family & Community Health Sciences Educator
Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County
Want to eat healthy? Consider eating the following foods that contain valuable nutritional properties:
- Leafy Greens – Dark green leafy veggies pack in lots of vitamins A, C, K, folate, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, lutein, and fiber. Try kale, collards, spinach, turnip or beet greens, and Swiss chard. Serve them in baked dishes, soups, stews, salads, and even kale chips. Check out the VISIONS article "It's Easy to Eat Greens" for the recipe and more info.
- Butternut Squash – Peel and cut into slices or chunks and steam or buy it already prepared at your local supermarket and add to a stir-fry, soup, or stew or mash and serve like mashed potatoes. Squash is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and fiber.
- Watermelon and Cantaloupe – These fruits are full of vitamins A and C and a two cup serving also provides some potassium, lycopene, and a great taste with only about 45 calories per cup. A great dessert or snack and great in salads.
- Garbanzo Beans – This is one bean that is often used in salads, but all beans are healthy. They are rich in protein, fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. Garbanzos, when canned can be rinsed and tossed into a salad, stews, curries and soups or mix them with brown rice, whole wheat couscous, bulgur, or other whole grains.
- Crisp Breads – These whole grain, thin crackers like WASA or Kavli Crispy, are rich in fiber and whole grains and low in fat. They are a great bread substitute and can be served with low-fat dips and toppings for appetizers or lunch.
- Salmon – Eating fish twice a week is a great way to get plenty of omega 3 fatty acids which may reduce your risk for a heart attack. Buy U.S. raised farmed salmon or wild-caught for lower levels of PCB contaminants. Eating fish is smart and heart healthy.
- Broccoli – A versatile green vegetable that has lots of vitamins A and C, carotenoids and folic acid. Steam it and add lemon juice or serve it raw on a crudité tray as an appetizer or add it to soups or casseroles. Take the broccoli rabe and steam it with olive oil and garlic for a side dish when serving pasta.
- Greek Yogurt – Non-fat, plain Greek yogurt has a pleasant tartness and is an excellent source of protein. Add seasonal fruit, nuts, or raisins to it and eat it on top of your favorite cold cereal. It can be used as a dip, take the place of oil in certain baked goods and be used as a meat or milk substitute. Greek yogurt has twice the protein of other yogurts which is about 18 grams of protein in six ounces.
- Mangoes – One cup of sliced mango supplies all the vitamin C needed by an adult for a day and about 1/3 of the vitamin A. Also, potassium and fiber are part of the benefits of eating mango. Since this fruit is peeled, it is low in pesticide residues.
- Sweet Potatoes – One of the best vegetables you can eat, it is loaded with carotenoids and vitamins A and C, along with potassium and fiber. Cook and mash with cinnamon, nutmeg and some ground cloves or add some “pumpkin pie spice” along with maple syrup to sweeten it. Use in soups, stews and casseroles, and pie.
By including these healthy foods in your diet, you will be improving your health one small step at a time.