by Shannon Clark Bodbuilding.com
Most foods are healthy or unhealthy. Pretty simple, right? But a select few are outliers. These items are either so terrible - I'm looking at you, Cinnabon - or so wonderful that their effects far outweigh their nutrition-panel profile.
This article focuses on some of the good ones. As the name suggests, superfoods contain "super" qualities - attributes far beyond those of normal healthy foods. These dietary miracle workers include hemp hearts, chia seeds, acai berry, sprouts and kefir.
If they sound exotic and hard to find, do not worry. You can add these superfoods to your diet by trying these great dishes.
Hemp Heart Granola
Hemp hearts are one of the best superfoods to add into your diet plan because they contain a combination of protein, unsaturated fats, omega fats and fiber. No tolerance for gluten? No problem.
Granola is an easy way to get the protein, fiber and healthy fats you need to control your diet.
This granola recipe combines hemp hearts with other quality ingredients and will fuel you throughout your day.
Per half-cup serving:
4 cups of toasted rolled oats (toast yourself in a skillet over medium heat for 4-5 minutes)
½ cup toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds
½ cup slivered almonds
½ cup raisins
¾ cup hemp hearts
¼ cup flaxseed oil
½ cup honey or maple syrup
Heat oven to 300 degrees. Combine oats, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, almonds, raisins and hemp hearts.
Drizzle combination with flaxseed oil and stir until evenly distributed. Next, drizzle with honey or maple syrup and stir to coat.
Press mixture into an 11 x 11-inch glass baking dish and then bake for about 20 minutes. Once it's baked, allow granola to cool to room temperature before serving; store remaining granola in an air-tight container.
Super-Seeds Pizza Dough
Chia seeds are perfect for advancing optimal health because they may help promote heart health, and support improved energy levels.
They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and are a powerful source of calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium and fiber. It's hard to argue with that profile.
Beat wheat with flour made from crushed chia seeds!
Here's a recipe that should satisfy your craving for pizza and improve your nutritional intake.
3 ½ cup quinoa flour
2 ¼ tsp. instant yeast
1 ½ tsp. salt
2 tbsp. chia flour
2 ½ tsp. honey
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 1/3 cup warm water
½ cup low-sodium pizza or tomato sauce
1 cup diced peppers, mushrooms, onions
¼ cup red cabbage slices
¼ cup broccoli florets, sliced into bite sized pieces
1 cup pre-cooked shrimp
½ cup low-fat mozzarella cheese
Heat oven to 500 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine the first four dry ingredients. Add honey and olive oil until moistened. Add water and continue to mix until a dough-like substance is formed.
Let dough rest for five minutes and then knead it lightly on a floured surface until it becomes sticky and slightly springy.
Spread dough over a pizza pan or baking sheet and then smear with tomato sauce. Once covered, top with vegetables, shrimp and then sprinkle with cheese. Place in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust looks crispy.
Acai Berry Protein Crepe
The acai berry is a powerful source of antioxidants and offers essential fatty acids. Now, if you can pronounce it, we'll be really impressed.
No matter - try incorporating acai into your diet with this quick and easy crepe recipe.
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
3 egg whites
2 tbsp. fat free cream cheese, melted
2-3 drops Stevia
¼ cup Acai berry pulp
½ cup sliced strawberries
1 tbsp. slivered almonds
Mix the vanilla protein powder, egg whites, and fat free cream cheese together until a thin batter has formed. Next, add in the Stevia and Acai berry pulp and mix until well-blended.
Pour onto a hot, non-stick skillet and cook as you would a pancake for 2-3 minutes or until the edges are brown. Flip and continue to cook until the crepe is slightly brown or no longer soft-looking in the center.
Remove from heat and top with sliced strawberries and slivered almonds. Serve immediately.
Chicken Sprout Pitas
If you're someone who's concerned with the health of your digestive tract, alfalfa sprouts need to be on your menu. These will provide you with vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin B12; sprouts will also help to improve your cholesterol profile, support your immune system and bring down your blood pressure level.
To add some alfalfa sprouts into your diet, try this chicken pita recipe.
1/3 cup natural peanut butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley
1 tbsp. minced gingerroot
1 tbsp. sweet mustard
4 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. white wine vinegar
2 whole wheat pita breads
1 cup spinach leaves
1 cup alfalfa sprouts
½ cup chopped cucumber
½ cup sliced mushrooms
1 tomato, sliced
2 chicken breasts, pre-grilled and sliced into bite sized pieces
¼ cup peanuts
Dressing: In a small bowl, mix peanut butter, garlic, parsley, gingerroot, sweet mustard, soy sauce and vinegar.
Fill each pita with spinach leaves, alfalfa sprouts, cucumber, mushrooms and tomato slices. Top with chicken and then drizzle with the dressing prepared earlier. Top with peanuts and serve.
Kefir is relatively low in calories but packed with protein and calcium, so it can offer great bone support. It's also a great source of magnesium, riboflavin, folate, as well as vitamin B12.
Here's a simple recipe for a healthier version of pancakes to replace your typical morning variety.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup oat flour (or ground oats)
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 cups kefir
½ cup low-fat milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 whole egg beaten with 2 egg whites
3 tbsp. natural peanut butter
1 cup fresh berries
In a large bowl, mix flour, oat flour, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, combine together the kefir, milk, vanilla extract and eggs; beat until well-blended. Next, add the dry mixture to the wet mixture until a moist batter has formed.
Pre-heat a skillet on medium heat and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Drop the batter onto the skillet by large tablespoon and cook for 1-2 minutes before flipping and cooking for another minute or two on the second side. Continue until all pancakes are completed.
Place the natural peanut butter in the microwave for 20-30 seconds to soften and then drizzle over pancakes; top pancakes with the fresh berries. Makes 2-3 servings.
Next time you want to liven up your diet and boost the nutritional content at the same time, consider any one of these recipes. All of them will pack more nutrition while providing you with a good combination of complex carbs, healthy fats and protein.