What the heck are these superfood things people keep talking about? Certain foods (mainly fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds) are particularly packed with essential nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. From avocado to zucchini, we’ve got the low-down on these super-powered foods that can boost health from the inside out.
Just because they’re superfoods doesn’t necessarily mean they’re super-complicated to prepare, though. For those who are crunched for time, inexperienced in the kitchen, or just not in the mood to cook an elaborate meal, we’ve put together a list of our favorite super-simple, super-healthy recipes. Each of the meals featured below includes at least two superfoods, so you’re guaranteed to get a nutrient-packed meal. What are you waiting for? Go get cooking!
Thanks to pumpkin puree, cinnamon, and milk (of your choice), this hearty oatmeal packs a nutritional punch with four superfoods and less than five minutes of prep time. Optional toppings of nuts and dried fruits provide a morning energy boost, while a dash of the cinnamon adds savory flavor, protects your heart, and fights inflammation Cinnamon and health. Gruenwald J, Freder J, Armbruester N. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 2010, Dec.;50(9):1549-7852. .
These baked eggs pack 12.5 grams of protein per serving so you don't need a mid-morning snack. If you’re not a fan of vitamin-rich bell peppers (which are loaded with vitamins A and C that protect the immune system and skin) as the containers for your baked eggs, substitute eggplant, acorn squash, or pumpkin.
A perfect on-the-go breakfast, this smoothie recipe features a delicious combination of four superfoods: kale, banana, almond butter, and chia seeds. Although the recipe calls for almond milk, consider subbing in soy or skim milk, which contain essential vitamins and minerals that can help with losing weight, building muscle, and fortifying bones Preliminary study: soy milk as effective as skim milk in promoting weight loss. Lukaszuk JM, Luebbers P, Gordon BA. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 2007, Nov.;107(10):0002-8223. Consumption of fluid skim milk promotes greater muscle protein accretion after resistance exercise than does consumption of an isonitrogenous and isoenergetic soy-protein beverage. Wilkinson SB, Tarnopolsky MA, Macdonald MJ. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 2007, May.;85(4):0002-9165. .
A hearty and delicious breakfast that combines sweet potatoes, eggs, and red, green, and yellow bell peppers, this hash can easily accommodate add-ins. Toss in some meat (like sausage or shredded chicken) for extra protein, or up the veggies with onions, kale, or spinach. Sweet potatoes, which provide 400 percent of your daily recommended amount of vitamin A, are both delicious and beneficial to eye health.
This baked egg dish is super simple, layering eggs, Swiss chard, onions, and chives with slices of gooey brie cheese and salmon (which is full of brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids). Although the recipe calls for heavy cream, consider using milk or a milk substitute to reduce calories without forgoing the silky texture.
This fancy-looking casserole will impress your friends and make them healthier. It features a hearty serving spinach, a great source of iron, which aids in building muscles. Simply combine spinach with leeks, cottage cheese, and goat cheese, bake for 20 minutes, and enjoy.
Beets are back! This salad features bright-red roots alongside thinly sliced carrots. It’s a recipe perfect for any fan of cancer-fighting root veggies. (Bonus: The high levels of potassium in beets help your body build muscle and proteins.) Toss the vegetables with pistachios (for fiber and protein), goat cheese, and baby greens for a speedy, tasty lunch.
This chicken salad recipe uses Greek yogurt (which is packed with probiotics that can aid digestion and supplies a healthy dose of protein) rather than mayonnaise for a deliciously creamy and healthy sandwich filling. Apples, almonds, and green onions add tasty crunch to this light, gluten-free lunch.
9. Quinoa Salad With Red Pepper and Cilantro
Quinoa is a powerhouse seed that provides a light but protein-rich base for this cool salad. Topped with a citrusy vinaigrette made of cilantro, lime, and mustard, this meal will leave you full without the empty calories in most pasta salads.
This salad is primarily made of fruit, with spinach playing second fiddle. Featuring kiwis (containing 117 percent of the daily recommended value of vitamin C) and avocados (which are loaded with healthy fats and vitamins like B6, which promote healthy skin), these superfruits make this salad super-delicious.
A simple salad that’s surprisingly filling, this recipe is a straightforward combination of avocado, orange, pomegranate, basil, mint, and leafy, vitamin-rich arugula. The light dressing of lemon, olive oil, and honey takes just a few minutes to prepare and adds a citrusy kick to the superfood salad.
Avocado, yellow squash, and whole roasted red piquillo peppers are neatly layered to make this breadless ”sandwich.” Yellow squash not only has high levels of vitamin C, but its high content of lutein helps protect eye health. Oven-baked salmon acts as the bread to the layers of antioxidant-rich veggies. The best part? This stacked gourmet lunch takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.
This roasted sweet potato salad is the perfect meatless Monday main (talk about a tongue twister!). Toss the taters with green beans, mixed leafy greens, toasted walnuts, and dried cranberries for a meal that packs a punch without much prep.
Although grilled halibut provides a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins, the superfood hero in this recipe is actually the pesto sauce. Made of basil, kale, pistachios, garlic, olive oil, lemon, and Parmesan cheese, this antioxidant-rich sauce is as tasty as it is healthy.
For this recipe, roast lentils in a pan until they’re crispy, nutty, and flavorful enough to tempt even meat eaters. Combine green apples, butternut squash, and sweet potato with the lentils, and season everything with cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and apple cider vinegar.
Salmon and asparagus, two superfoods linked to improving cognitive function and preventing hangovers, take center stage in this recipe Effects of Asparagus officinalis extracts on liver cell toxicity and ethanol metabolism. Kim BY, Cui ZG, Lee SR. Journal of food science, 2010, Jan.;74(7):1750-3841. Serum phospholipid docosahexaenonic acid is associated with cognitive functioning during middle adulthood. Muldoon MF, Ryan CM, Sheu L. The Journal of nutrition, 2010, Feb.;140(4):1541-6100. . Top grilled salmon and asparagus with toasted almonds, and dress the whole shebang with garlic, chili, and lemon. After less than 20 minutes of prep and cooking, this recipe is both simple and filling—a no-brainer.
With fewer than eight ingredients, this salad is a simple dinner option that combines dandelion greens with fiber- and iron-rich chickpeas. A dressing of tangerine juice and lemon zest cuts the bitterness of the greens. Make this salad a bit more robust by serving it on a bed of fluffy, protein-packed quinoa.
This recipe is a leafy green bonanza! The instructions call for kale, broccoli, spinach, bok choy, and Swiss chard, but any variety of leafy greens will fit the bill. These greens, which provide an array of vitamins—incluing C , E, and K—can help regulate blood flow and protect cells. Simply microwave sesame seeds to add a toasted nutty crunch to the honey, garlic, and soy sauce dressing.
Get rid of those grade school memories of grapes floating in high fructose corn syrup. This fruit salad is a nutrient-rich mix of kiwis, strawberries, and mangos combined with lemon juice, honey, and mint. Packed with loads of vitamin C, this salad can help combat some cancers and give a boost to the immune system all in one tasty, sweet serving.
Rather than munching on sugary granola, consider this superfood-rich trail mix. This combination of pistachios, hazelnuts, pecans, dried cranberries, raisins, blueberries, goji berries, and walnuts relies on natural sweetness for flavor. The cholesterol- and cancer-fighting power of nuts will keep you healthy, and the protein will keep you moving all day long.
Give yourself a midday boost of energy with these chia crispbreads that are loaded with antioxidants. Plus, studies suggest the omega-3s in chia can improve endurance and serve as an effective way to carbo-load Omega 3 Chia seed loading as a means of carbohydrate loading. Illian TG, Casey JC, Bishop PA. Journal of strength and conditioning research / National Strength & Conditioning Association, 2011, May.;25(1):1533-4287. . Made with sunflower, pumpkin, and chia seeds alongside oats and flax, they’re baked thin and perfect for topping with your favorite fruit or spread.
In less than two minutes, you can whip up a snack that may help decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease and lower your risk of diabetes The acute effect of flavonoid-rich apples and nitrate-rich spinach on cognitive performance and mood in healthy men and women. Bondonno CP, Downey LA, Croft KD. Food & function, 2014, Dec.;5(5):2042-650X. Dietary flavonoid intakes and risk of type 2 diabetes in US men and women. Wedick NM, Pan A, Cassidy A. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 2012, Feb.;95(4):1938-3207. . Packed with nutrients and a variety of plant polyphenols (compounds like flavonoids, which protect against heart disease), this mid-afternoon bite mixes cinnamon, flax seeds, honey, and unsweetened applesauce into a delicious and healthy snack.
Craving potato chips? Try subbing in roasted garbanzo beans sprinkled with sea salt and goji berries instead. The hearty snack will leave you full of nutrients such as iron, fiber, folate and magnesium rather than with empty calories.
Raita, a southeast Asian condiment, is a yogurt-based dip that’s perfect for dunking apples, strawberries, or bananas. Whisk yogurt and sweetener (we recommend using honey ) with cumin, black salt, and chaat masala. Add a dash of pomegranate juice, which may help protect the heart, and garnish the creamy dip with grated beets Pomegranate juice: a heart-healthy fruit juice. Basu A, Penugonda K. Nutrition reviews, 2009, Apr.;67(1):1753-4887. .
Can’t get enough chocolate? Try this recipe for your daily fix. Simply dip apple slices into melted dark chocolate (which has fewer calories than milk chocolate and offers a healthy dose of antioxidants) and sprinkle with toasted walnuts.
Light and airy, these Greek yogurt cookies are a sweet after-dinner treat that take less than an hour to make. Simply whisk together flour, yogurt, sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, and blueberries, then chill and bake.
Quinoa for dessert? It’s possible (and delicious) in this crumble recipe that layers quinoa, cinnamon, and almond flour on top of chopped cherries and peaches. Sour cherries have the added benefit of soothing sore muscles, so consider this dessert a reward after a hard workout The role of cherries in exercise and health. Bell PG, McHugh MP, Stevenson E. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports, 2013, May.;24(3):1600-0838. .
Originally published December 2013. Updated April 2015.