How often do you really sit and think about what you are consuming and what effects those foods have on your bodies? Over the years, dietitians, nutritionists and chefs have been looking into the many ways you can improve your health through your daily menu. You probably have heard the buzzword “super-foods.” These are foods that offer various health benefits. But what makes these foods super is the micro-nutrients, or polyphenols, found within.
Polyphenols can be found in numerous plant-based foods – some of which you probably have in your fridge right now. Incorporating these super-foods into your diet has been linked to health benefits like lowered blood pressure, lowered cholesterol and overall heart health. Polyphenols are found in nuts, berries, vegetables, teas, herbs, spices and even chocolate. The foods I consider “mega packed” with polyphenols are blueberries, blackberries, red raspberries, green tea, plums, spinach, hazelnuts and dark chocolate.
Just to prove how easy it is to incorporate these super-foods into your daily diet, I will outline a delicious and nutritious day of meals – starting with the most important meal of the day, breakfast. Think outside your usual bowl of cereal for breakfast. Fresh berries are a great way to add nutrients to your morning. A green tea fruit smoothie is quick and easy for busy mornings on the go. Start by boiling a cup of water with three tea bags and a cup of fresh blackberries or blueberries. Pour your tea and berries into a blender, then add pineapple juice, Greek yogurt and ice. You now have a great start to your day!
For lunch, swap out your boring iceberg lettuce salad for a spinach-based alternative. Add in olives, broccoli, shaved shallots and asparagus. Top your salad with flaxseeds and sliced almonds for a crunch factor. Lastly, in place of ranch, pour on a pomegranate vinaigrette dressing. This salad is packed-full of polyphenols and will help you get through a slow afternoon. But, if you’re in need of a mid-afternoon snack, go for an apple, plums, sweet cherries or just a handful of nuts that will add to your heart health.
Dinner doesn’t have to be complicated – just think of key ingredients that we can add to healthy, smart menu packed with polyphenols. Start with a salad made with green and red chicory topped with a fresh mint dressing. For an entree, a simple stir-fry chicken, chicken curry, ham with cloves or bean chili is an excellent choice. Finish your meal with a glass of red wine and a dessert of dark chocolate mousse.
So next time you think food can’t be both nutritious and delicious, think back to all the super-foods rich with polyphenols. Not only will your stomach be happy, but so will your heart.
Black Bean Chili
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, medium diced
2 red peppers, medium diced
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/2 pound ground meat
6 to 8 roma tomatoes, diced
1 cup fresh corn
1 teaspoon cumin
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons chili powder
24 ounces black beans, drained
1 cup beef broth
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
Add onions and peppers to heated olive oil and cook to tender. Add garlic and ground meat, cook until meat is done. Drain off excess liquid. Add tomatoes, corn, seasonings, beans and beef broth and reduce to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper.
Green tea marinade
3 cups green tea
4 teaspoons stone-ground mustard
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons fresh marjoram, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
In a stainless steel bowl, incorporate the tea, mustards, garlic, fresh marjoram, oregano and salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil into ingredients until a smooth consistency. Pour marinade over poultry or beef for 10 to 24 hours, covered in refrigerator. When ready to cook, take chicken and beef from marinade. Remove excess marinade from poultry or beef and cook.
Citrus Mint Vinaigrette Dressing
1 fresh-squeezed lemon with zest
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon raw honey
1 teaspoon sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
⅓ cup olive oil
⅓ cup packed mint leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
Squeeze and zest lemon in a stainless steel bowl. Whisk lemon juice, lime juice, mustard, honey, sugar and garlic. Slowly incorporate olive oil stirring till blended. Take fresh mint leaves, chop and add to dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper.