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!
1. Pumpkin Spiced Oatmeal
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 start your morning right, while a dash of the cinnamon adds savory flavor, protects your heart, and fights inflammation Cinnamon and health. Gruenwald, J., Freder, J., Armbruester, N. Analyze & realize ag, Berlin, Germany. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 2010 Oct;50(9):822-34.
2. Colorful Flower Eggs
These baked eggs not only provide an early morning protein boost, they also contain plenty of omega 3-fatty acids, which aid brain function and heart health Long-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids Improve Brain Function and Structure in Older Adults. Witte AV, Kerti L, Hermannstadter HM, et al. Department of Neurology. Cerebral cortex, 2013 Jun 24.. 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 the skin) as the containers for your baked eggs, substitute eggplant, acorn squash, or pumpkin.
3. Kale, Almond, Banana Smoothie with Chia Seeds
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, J.M., Luebbers, P., Gordon, B.A. School of Family, Consumer, and Nutrition Sciences, Northern Illinois University. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 2007 Oct;107 (10):1811-4 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, S.B., Tarnopolsky, M.A., Macdonald, M.J., et al. Exercise Metabolism Research Group, Department of Kinesiology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2007 Apr;85(4):1031-40.
4. Sweet Potato Hash with Eggs
A hearty and delicious breakfast that combines sweet potatoes, eggs, and red, green, and yellow bell peppers, this hash can easily accommodate extra 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.
5. Shirred Eggs with Smoked Salmon
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.
6. Breakfast Casserole with Spinach, Leeks, Cottage Cheese, and Goat Cheese
This fancy-looking casserole will impress your friends and make them healthier. It features a hearty serving of leeks and spinach, two superfoods packed with nutrients, including iron, that aid in building muscles and supporting cardiovascular health Spinach or carrots can supply significant amounts of vitamin A as assessed by feeding with intrinsically deuterated vegetables. Tang, G., Qin, J., Dolnikowski, G.g., Russell, R. M., Grusak, M. A. Jean Mayer US Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, Mass., American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2005; 82(4): 821-828 Can dietary nitrates enhance the efficiency of mitochondria? Nair, K.S., Irving, B. A., Lanza, I. R. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN. Cell metabolism 2011; 13(2): 117-118. Simply combine the leeks and spinach with cottage cheese and goat cheese, bake for 20 minutes, and enjoy.
Photo: Kelly / The Lily Pad Cottage
7.Goat Cheese and Beet Salad
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 keep organs healthy.) Toss the vegetables with pistachios (for fiber and protein), goat cheese, and baby greens for a speedy, tasty lunch.
8. Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad
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 Probiotics and their fermented food products are beneficial to health. Parvez, S., Malik, KA., Ah Kang, S., et al. Helix Pharms Co. Ltd, Kyung-Hee University, and Department of Biological Sciences of Oriental Medicine, Graduate School of Interdepartmental Studies, Institute of Oriental Medicines, Kyung-Hee University, Dongdaemoon-gu, Seoul, Korea. Journal of Applied Microbiology, 2006 Jun;100(6):1171-85. 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.
10. Spinach, Avocado, and Kiwi Salad
Dominated by chopped avocado, kiwi, and raisins, this salad is primarily made of chopped 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.
11. Orange, Avocado, and Arugula Salad
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.
12. Stacked Salmon 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.
Photo: Emily / The Pig and Quill
13. Sweet Potato and Green Bean Salad with Maple-Mustard Dressing
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.
14. Grilled Halibut with Kale Pistachio Pesto
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. The vitamin E found in kale and garlic protects the heart and combats free-radical damage Free radical tissue damage: protective role of antioxidant nutrients. Machlin LJ, Bendich A. Clinical Nutrition, Hoffman-La Roche Inc., Nutley, New Jersey. FASEB Journal, 1987 Dec;1(6):441-5. Savenger effect of vitamin E and derivatives on free radicals generated by photoirradiated pheomelanin. Duval C, Poelman MC. Départment Dermopharmacie et Biophysique Cutanée, Faculté des Sciences Pharmaceutiques et Biologiques, Paris, France. Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 1995 Jan;84(1):107-10..
15. Harvest Skillet Popped Lentils
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.
16. Salmon with Almonds and Asparagus
Salmon and asparagus, two superfoods linked to improving cognitive function and preventing hangovers, take center stage in this recipe. Top grilled salmon and asparagus with toasted almonds and dress the whole shebang with garlic, chili, and lemon Serum phospholipid docosahexaenonic acid is associated with cognitive functioning during middle adulthood. Muldoon, M.F., Ryan, C.M., Sheu, L., et al. University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA. The Journal of Nutrition. 2010 April; 140(4): 848-853) ((Effects of Asparagus officinalis extracts on liver cell toxicity and ethanol metabolism. Kim, BY, Cui, ZG, Lee, SR, et al. Institution of Medical Science, Jeju National University, Jeju, Korea. Journal of Food Science. 2009 Sep; 74(7):H204-8. After less than 20 minutes of prep and cooking, this recipe is both simple and filling—a no-brainer.
17. Chickpeas and Dandelion Greens
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.
18. Honey Sesame Steamed Greens
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.
19. Raw Vegan Banana Hemp Seed Sushi Slices
There’s no need to be a sushi expert to make these fish-free snacks. Simply spread peanut butter on top of a whole banana and sprinkle with a hearty dose of hemp seeds to add protein and vitamin E (which aid immune system function and healthy skin) Savenger effect of vitamin E and derivatives on free radicals generated by photoirradiated pheomelanin. Duval C, Poelman MC. Départment Dermopharmacie et Biophysique Cutanée, Faculté des Sciences Pharmaceutiques et Biologiques, Paris, France. Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 1995 Jan;84(1):107-10.. Slice and enjoy!
20. Fruit Salad with Kiwi, Strawberries, and Mango
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 Vitamin C and cancer: what can we conclude—1,609 patients and 33 years later? Cabanillas F. Universty of Puerto Rico School of Medicine, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico Health Sciences Journal, 2010 Sep;29(3):215-7. Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold. Douglas RM, Hemila H, Chalker E, et al. The Cochrane Database Systematic Reviews, 2007 Jul 18;(3):CD00980..
21. Superfood Trail Mix
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 the natural sweetness of dried fruits and nuts for flavor. The cholesterol- and cancer- fighting power of nuts (not to mention the healthy fats and protein) will keep you healthy, and the rich protein will keep you moving all day long.
22. Chia Crispbreads
Give yourself a mid-day 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. Human Performance Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology, The University of Alabama, Auburn, Alabama, USA. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2011 Jan;25(1):61-5. 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.
23. Cinnamon Applesauce with Flax and Honey
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 Apple phytochemicals and their health benefits. Boyer, J., Liu, R.H. Department of Food Science and Institute of Comparative and Environmental Toxicology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. Nutrition Journal, 2004 May 12;3:5. Packed with nutrients and a variety of plant polyphenols (compounds like flavonoids which protect against heart disease), this mid-day meal mixes cinnamon, flax seeds, honey, and unsweetened applesauce into a delicious and healthy snack.
24. Roasted Garbanzo Beans with Sea Salt and Goji Berries
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 Consumption of dry beans, peas, and lentils could improve diet quality in the US population. Mitchell, DC, Lawrence, FR, Hartman, TJ, et al. Diet Assessment Center, Department of Nutritional Sciences, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 2009; 109(5):909-13.
25. Pomegranate Raita Recipe
Raita, a southeast Asian condiment, is a yogurt-based dip that’s prefect for dunking apples, strawberries, or bananas. Whisk yogurt and sugar (we recommend using honey instead) 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 Pomegrante juice: a heart-healthy fruit juice. Basu A, Penugonda K. Department of Nutritional Sciences, Oklahoma State Unversity, Stillwater, Oklahoma. Nutrition Reviews, 2009 Jan;67(1):49-56..
26. Healthy Candy Apple Wedges
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.
27. “Rain Berry” Cake
This cake is simple enough for even the most oven-phobic cook. The crust is made of crushed walnuts and the filling is a straightforward combination of chilled Greek yogurt, crushed blueberries (which may speed up the metabolism and reduce risk of heart disease), cardamom, and honey.
28. Blueberry Lemon Cookies
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!
29. Peach and Cherry Quinoa Crumble
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 necessary reward after a hard workout Efficacy of tart cherry juice blend in preventing the symptoms of muscle damage. Connolly, D.A., McHugh, M.P, Padilla-Zakour, O.I, et al. Human Performance Laboratory, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405, USA. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2006 Aug;40(8):679-83.
30. Pomegranate Coconut Mousse
For a dessert that’s rich and creamy without the calories, try this super-easy, light mousse. Sprinkled with grated coconut and pomegranate seeds, this rich decadent desert protects your heart, without the downside of refined sugars.
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