At the beginning of every year (thanks to all those New Year’s resolutions) everyone I encounter seems to ask me what I am eating and what they should be eating to meet their wellness goals. Here are my top 5 favorite foods for a happy and healthy New Year.
1. Non-Fat Greek Yogurt: Greek yogurt is one of my favorite foods because it’s high in protein and calcium, and it tastes great! Greek yogurt is made by heating and culturing milk with gut-friendly bacteria. It is then strained again to remove extra whey for a thicker and creamier final product. Removing the whey actually increases the protein content as well, providing 18 grams of protein in 6 ounces as compared to regular yogurt, which has 8 grams of protein.
What to do with it? I put some fresh berries and a little drizzle of agave nectar over it for breakfast, or I use it in place of sour cream in the evening. It feels like I am indulging in a very rich food without any guilt.
2. Garlic Scapes: This is probably a new one for most people. Garlic scapes can be recognized by their creamy, pointy tips and curling green stems. Garlic consumption has been studied for disease prevention properties in many cultures, and organic sulfur compounds in the plants may play a role in limiting the growth of cancer cells. Although the research is preliminary, the results appear promising.
What to do with it? You can usually find garlic scapes at your local farmers’ market in summer. With a texture similar to asparagus, they can be added to stir-frys, omelets and vegetables for a burst of flavor.
3. Chickpeas: Interestingly, chickpeas date back to the Neolithic period and are sometimes referred to as garbanzo beans or ceci beans. They have a buttery, nut-like flavor that combines well with most spices. Chickpeas are a great source of complex carbohydrates, and offer a healthy dose of fiber. In addition, chickpeas will help improve blood sugar levels and are heart healthy.
What to do with it? Canned chickpeas are ready to eat: Just drain and rinse with cold water and add to salads, curries or soups. They can also be used as a healthier substitution for white potatoes, or roasted as a super healthy snack. You might also want to try blending them with a bit of olive oil and garlic to make hummus — a delicious snack with some crunchy vegetables.
4. Quinoa: Quinoa, pronounced (KEEN-WAH), is another ancient food and was considered the “food of the gods” by the Incan Warriors. It’s one of my favorites for many reasons. To start, it is a whole grain with dietary fiber that can help promote normal blood sugar levels and heart health. It is also a complete protein, meaning that it provides all the essential building blocks of an animal protein, such as chicken, turkey or beef, without the cholesterol or fat. In fact, 1 cup of cooked quinoa has as much protein as 2 ounces of lean meat. One more wonderful thing about quinoa — it’s gluten free. That means that if you have celiac disease or if you are following a gluten-free diet, quinoa is OK.
What to do with it?
Cooked quinoa is delicious on its own as a healthy side dish, but I also like to add vegetables and spices. Try my Spicy Quinoa and Vegetable recipe
5. Pumpkin seeds: Most people only think of pumpkin seeds around Halloween, but they are a great addition to your foods all year long. Also known as pepitas, they contain a good source of protein, fiber and heart healthy fats.
What to do with it? For more convenience, buy them pre-shelled and add them to granola, oatmeal or your own healthy trail mix. The crunchy texture is also good for topping muffins and quick breads.
I hope you enjoy some of my favorite foods; they taste great and they will really help you stick to those resolutions. Cheers to a happy and healthy New Year!