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Top 5 Health Foods you Probably Aren't Eating

When naming superfoods, items like blueberries, salmon, spinach, and almonds are common items that probably come to mind. However, some of the top health foods are ones you probably aren’t eating! Village dietitian, Jamie Miller, is sharing the top 5 foods you probably aren’t currently eating but should be, as well as tasty recipes to showcase how to use them. 

Canned Sardines

Instead of reaching for a can of tuna, try out canned sardines. These small, oily fish are packed with omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, vitamin D, selenium and protein. Additionally, they are budget-friendly, convenient, and a sustainable and low mercury seafood choice, leaving no excuse to not pick up a can next time you are at the grocery store. One 3.75 ounce can of sardines provides 22 grams of protein, 1300 mg of omega 3 fatty acids, 137% of your daily needs of B12, 89% of selenium, and 69% of vitamin D. Because of these nutritional stats, sardines help lower cholesterol, are an anti-inflammatory, support healthy bones, and even help prevent mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. Look for sardines that have been packed in olive oil or water instead of soybean oil or other refined oils. Sardines have a briny, strong fishy taste, but the strong flavor can be toned down by soaking them in buttermilk or yogurt, grilling them, or using them in combination with strong flavored ingredients like mayo, tomato sauce, or sautéed onions.

Sardine Salad

  • 1 can wild sardines in extra virgin olive oil, drained
  • 2 ribs of celery, minced
  • 2 tbsp minced red onion or shallot
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh parsley or dill
  • 1 tbsp capers, drained
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp greek yogurt or avocado oil mayonnaise
  • zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Place drained sardines in a bowl and mash with a fork. Next, add remaining ingredients to the bowl, stir until well combined. Thirdly, taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed. Serve the salad with crackers, on bread as a sandwich, in Bibb lettuce as a wrap or on top of salad greens.

Seaweed

Don’t reserve eating seaweed to just in your sushi. Seaweed, or also called algae, is dense in antioxidants—such as vitamins A, C, and E which help to boost immunity and prevent chronic diseases.  It also is a rich source of iodine. Since one of the causes of hypothyroidism is a deficiency of iodine, this is a top food choice to support thyroid health.  Seaweed also is surprisingly high in protein. One  cup of seaweed has just 45 calories, but provides 5 grams of protein. There’s many different types of seaweed such as kelp, wakame, dulse, nori, spirulina and chlorella. Nori sheets is what is found in sushi rolls, while wakame is the type to make seaweed salad and also is what you find in miso soup. Kelp is the main ingredient in dashi to make miso soup and also is often made into noodles. Dulse is sold dried and used as a seasoning such as in furikake. Spirulina and chlorella powder often are included in nutrient rich smoothies.

Smoked Salmon Avocado Hand Roll

  • 1 sheet nori seaweed paper, cut in half 
  • 3 oz smoked salmon or cooked salmon
  • ½ cup red pepper, cut into strips
  • ½ cup cucumber, cut into strips
  • ½ avocado, sliced
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • ½ tbsp coconut aminos or soy sauce
  • Optional: sriracha

 

Using a sharp knife, cut a piece of nori in half. Place the nori sheets horizontally in front of you with the rough side facing up. Divide the smoked salmon, red pepper, cucumber and avocado and lay diagonally, with the ends pointing towards the upper left corner. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, add a few dashes of coconut aminos or soy sauce, and optional sriracha to taste.  To fold, start with the left bottom corner first, and fold up over the ingredients, then wrap the right side over and around to form a cone, about the size of an ice cream sugar cone. It will seal itself. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat.

Watercress

Watercress is a cruciferous green that according to a review in Preventing Chronic Disease, holds the top spot for nutrient density. The ranking is based on foods that have the most nutrients for the least amount of calories, having 4 calories in one cup. It scored a perfect 100% for nutrient density, even beating out kale, spinach, and collard greens. It’s a powerhouse ingredient due to its rich source of vitamin A, E, K and calcium. Watercress differs in taste from other greens with its more zippy, spicy flavor. So it can be great to mix with other more mild greens, combine with foods such as beets or oranges in a salad, add to a sandwich or wrap, or incorporate into soups.

Cauliflower Watercress Soup

  • 1 tbsp olive oil, avocado oil, or grassfed butter, plus 1 tsp olive oil
  • ½ large yellow onion 
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp salt, or to taste
  • ¼ tsp ground pepper, or to taste
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 medium head cauliflower, chopped (about 1 1/2 lbs florets)
  • 4 cups watercress, 3 oz

 

In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil or butter over medium heat. Add onions, salt and pepper. Stir occasionally, cooking until tender, about 5 minutes. Add flour and stir, then cook for about 1 to 2 minutes. Add broth and chopped cauliflower, then bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the potato is tender, 15-20 minutes. Add 2 bunches of watercress and cook until it becomes tender, about 3 minutes. If you have an immersion blender, use it to puree soup until smooth. If not, work in batches to transfer the soup to a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into serving bowls. In a small bowl, toss remaining 1 bunch of watercress with 1 tsp olive oil, 1 tbsp lemon juice and then season with salt and pepper. Top each soup bowl with a handful of  the fresh watercress salad and an additional drizzle of olive oil, optional.

Turmeric

Turmeric is famous for its golden- orange hue, giving mustard and curry dishes their famous colors. But the spice is even more prized for its major health benefits. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Individuals with inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, ulcerative colitis, allergies and infections all can find relief from this powerhouse spice. One key to remember is that turmeric must be consumed with black pepper to activate its nutritional benefits. So be sure to add a small pinch of pepper to your dish. Try out turmeric in soups, smoothies, rice, and dressing or simply sprinkle on roasted vegetables or grilled chicken or shrimp.

Turmeric Tahini Dressing

  • 1/4 cup Tahini
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • ⅛ tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp maple syrup or monk fruit
  • 1/3 cup water, to thin

Place all ingredients into a small bowl and whisk until well combined. Dressing will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Serve over roasted veggies, kale or other greens, grilled protein, grains, etc.

Jicama

While it might not be the most common vegetable you add to your cart, this root vegetable is one to add to your rotation. It’s 90% water, so is only 40 calories per cup but gives you 25% of your daily fiber needs. It’s unique in the way it’s a source of inulin fiber, a water-soluble and prebiotic fiber. This prebiotic fiber feeds the good bacteria in your gut, to improve digestive health. Jicama also comes with an impressive amount of vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium. The flavor of jicama is often described as a mix between an apple and potato, and has a characteristic crunch. To enjoy, it can be simply sliced to snack on raw or as a dip for guacamole or hummus, diced and added to salads or slaws, or roasted as a sub for fries.

Watermelon Jicama Salad with Lime & Cojita

  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 4 cups watermelon, cubed into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup jicama, peeled and chopped into ½ – inch pieces)
  • 1/2 serrano or jalapeno pepper, seeded, and finely minced
  • 1/4 cup lime juice (about 2-3 limes)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled cotija cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Salt, to taste

Add the cut red onion, watermelon, jicama, and serrano or jalapeno pepper to a large bowl. Pour lime juice over the fresh produce, add the cotija, and cilantro and toss until well combined. Taste and add salt if desired. Serve immediately.

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