Foods to Boost Your Health in the New Year

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It’s January and the diet plan commercials are already flooding the media, each claiming to be the best. If you want to boost your health instead of a diet plan that will want you to “cheat” or drop after a couple of weeks, try introducing some new health boosting foods into your regular diet plan. Here are some of the best foods to choose and why!

Salmon

Salmon is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. This popular fatty fish is loaded with nutrients and may reduce risk factors for several diseases. It’s also tasty, versatile and widely available. Salmon is one of the best sources of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA, and DHA. A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) portion of farmed salmon has 2.3 grams of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, while the same portion of wild salmon contains 2.6 grams.

Nuts

In general, nuts are good sources of fat, fiber, and protein. Most of the fat in nuts is monounsaturated fat, as well as omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fat. However, beware they do contain some saturated fat. Nuts also pack a number of vitamins and minerals, including magnesium and vitamin E.

The best choice for nuts include almonds, pistachios, walnuts, cashews, pecans, macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, and peanuts.

Tomatoes

Often prepared as a vegetable the tomato is actually a fruit. Tomatoes are the major dietary source of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to many health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. They are a great source of vitamin C, potassium, folate, and vitamin K.

The water content of tomatoes is around 95%. The other 5% consists mainly of carbohydrates and fiber. One small tomato contains Calories 19, Protein 1 g., Carbohydrates 4 g., Sugar 2.6, Fiber 1 g., Fat 0.2 g. There are 4% of carbohydrates in tomatoes, this amounts to fewer than 5 grams of carbs for a medium tomato. Tomatoes are a good source of fiber, equaling about 1.5 grams per each average tomato.

Lentils

Lentils have a lot to offer that is good for you. They’re low in fat, extremely nutrient-dense, and generally pretty affordable to buy and they pack in a lot of health benefits.

Some include; Polyphenols which are active compounds that fight against harmful agents in the body—everything from ultraviolet rays and radiation to heart disease and cancer.

  • Protein, One cup of cooked lentils contains 18 grams of protein. You’d have to eat a whole can of chickpeas to get that much of the nutrient. (It is recommended to get between 50 and 75 grams a day.)
  • Iron, 1 cup of lentils also has 6.6 milligrams of iron, which is about one-third of what you need for the entire day. Iron is super important for keeping oxygen pumping throughout your body. If you don’t get enough, that blood flow slows down.
  • Fiber, 1 cup of lentils has 15.6 grams of it, which is actually almost four times as much as a cup of raw kale.

Green Vegetables

Dark green leafy vegetables contain plant pigments lutein and zeaxanthin which have been related to the prevention of strokes, heart disease, and breast and lung cancer. Vegetables that contain the most amount of lutein and zeaxanthin include kale and spinach. The dark leafy greens are also high in antioxidants, and minerals, such as magnesium, and fiber,

They are known to improve your metabolism, make you feel fuller longer, protect your eyes, lift your moods and keep you hydrated.

Apples

It can be true “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. Apples are incredibly good for you and eating them is linked to a lower risk of many major diseases, including diabetes and cancer. The soluble fiber content may promote weight loss and gut health. A medium apple equals 1.5 cups of fruit — which is ¾ of the 2-cup daily recommendation for fruit.

For the greatest benefits, eat the whole fruit — both skin and flesh.

Apples are nutritious, one medium apple — equals 1.5 cups of fruit. Two cups of fruit daily are recommended on a 2,000-calorie diet. One medium apple contains 95 calories, 25 grams of carbohydrates and 4 grams of fiber.

Oats

Oats offer many science-backed health benefits, including weight loss, reduced risk of heart disease, and lowers blood sugar. Oats contain high levels of antioxidants, which can improve blood flow in the body. Oatmeal contains a soluble fiber called beta-glucan that can help improve insulin response and possibly reduce blood sugar too.

Plain Yogurt

This may sound very unappealing, but it can serve as a great substitute base for snacks and desserts, especially when you are trying to avoid sugary foods. Plain yogurt also provides protein, calcium, riboflavin, and iodine, all play a vital role in your thyroid health. Choosing plain yogurt helps you to avoid added sugars, to give you more flavor by adding fresh fruit or nuts and seeds.

Whole Grains

Whole grains are packed with nutrients including protein, fiber, B vitamins, antioxidants, and trace minerals (iron, zinc, copper, and magnesium). A diet rich in whole grains has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and some forms of cancer.

Citrus Fruits

Women should aim to consume about 25 grams of fiber per day, and citrus can help you meet that goal. One orange serves up 2.3 grams of fiber, while a tangerine has 1.6 grams. What’s more, about two-thirds of the fiber in citrus fruit is soluble fiber,

Citrus fruits have relatively low glycemic index scores on the 100-point scale, meaning they won’t spike your blood sugar as much as some other foods. An orange, for example, has a score of 45, and a grapefruit 25.

Like cucumbers, watermelon, and tomatoes, citrus fruits have a high water content (oranges are 87% water and grapefruits are 88%). Eating plenty of water-rich food, such as citrus can help you stay hydrated which is important for quenching your thirst as well as helping you consume enough fluids throughout the day to prevent dehydration and help the body’s systems function properly.

Here are some super simple recipes using some of these superfoods;

Quick and Easy Tomato Bisque Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 1 28-oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 28-oz. can whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 5 large basil leaves, fresh
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • ½ cup 2% Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1½ teaspoons apple cider vinegar

Directions

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large stockpot over medium/high heat. When the olive oil is fragrant, add onion, garlic, salt, and pepper, and sauté for around 5 minutes or until the onion becomes translucent.
  2. Meanwhile, place tomato paste, diced tomatoes, whole peeled tomatoes, basil leaves, and garlic powder into a blender, or use an immersion blender.
  3. Once the onions are translucent, add that mixture to the blender as well. Blend on high for 1-2 minutes or until everything is pureed.
  4. Transfer mixture back into the stockpot and turn to medium/high heat. Once the soup is boiling, turn heat down to low and add vegetable broth, cream, Greek yogurt, and apple cider vinegar.
  5. Mix soup until everything is combined and creamy. Serve immediately or allow to continue to let simmer for 10-20 minutes for more depth of flavor. Salt and pepper, to taste.

Serves 6-8.

Easy Crock Pot Lemon Salmon

Ingredients

  • 1-2 lb. skin-on salmon fillet
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, cut into rounds
  • 1½ c. low-sodium vegetable broth
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 2 tbsp. freshly chopped dill, for garnish

Directions

  1. Line slow cooker with a large piece of parchment paper. Add a layer of lemon slices to the bottom of the slow cooker, then lay salmon on top.
  2. Season salmon generously with salt and pepper. Add broth and lemon juice to slow cooker. Liquid should come about halfway up your filet. Top salmon with more lemons and cook on low for 2 hours, or until opaque and flaky.

Serves 4.

Crock-Pot Taco Lentil Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño seeded and diced
  • 1 cup green or brown lentils rinsed
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • Optional Toppings; shredded cheddar cheese, chopped cilantro, sliced jalapeno, tortilla/chips.

Directions

  1. Place a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add in olive oil, garlic, bell pepper, onion, and jalapeño; sauté for 5 minutes or until onions begin to brown and soften. Transfer to the slow cooker.
  2. Add in the remaining ingredients (except for the corn) to the slow cooker: lentils, crushed tomatoes, vegetarian broth, black beans, and spices. Stir ingredients together to combine, then cover and cook for 3-4 hours on high or 7-8 hours on low. 20 minutes before serving, stir in frozen corn.

Serves 4.

My cooking tip to save time:  Add everything to the crockpot and skip the sauté step.

Oatmeal with Fruit and Nuts

Ingredients

  • ½ cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • ¼ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup chopped apple
  • 1 tablespoon walnuts toasted

Directions

  1. Combine oats and milk in a small saucepan. Bring just to a boil over high heat; then reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the oats are tender and creamy, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover and let stand for 2 minutes. Serve topped with yogurt, apple, and walnuts.

Serves 1. The serving contains Calories 341, Fat 7.7 g, Cholesterol 8 mg., Sodium 124 mg., Carbohydrates 46.5 g., Fiber 5.2 g., Sugar 18 g., Protein 22 g.,