Healthy eating shouldn’t be complicated. That’s why my Foodwise nutritional consultations and The Clever Kitchen workshops are geared towards making it easier for people to be healthy, with practical solutions for life in the real world.
No one has time for difficult recipes with hard to find ingredients. So, while I always recommend eating a base of local, fresh, seasonal produce, it’s good to keep additional nutrient-rich foods on hand – ideally to consume every day. Here are a few of my favorites:
1. Brazil nuts
Brazil nuts are packed with nutrients such as selenium, B and E vitamins, zinc, iron, and calcium that all add up to health benefits like radiant skin, heart health, balanced hormones, and a healthy immune system.
Just two Brazil nuts daily help ensure that you get your daily requirement of selenium by providing you with more than twice as much of this vital mineral than your average supplement. They contain about 320 mcg selenium versus 200 mcg or less in your average multivitamin.
Food sources are always preferable to supplements for improving nutritional health because they are sustainable, less expensive and have a lower risk of toxicity.
Uses: Have 2 or 3 Brazil nuts daily. But don’t go overboard – they ARE high in calories!
2. Leafy greens
Dark green leafy vegetables are nutritional powerhouses filled with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. They are rich in chlorophyll, which alkalinizes the blood, and fiber, which keeps the colon healthy.
Kale, arugula, spinach, mache, collard greens, Swiss chard, watercress, and parsley are all examples of wonderful leafy greens to incorporate into your everyday life. Because there are so many leafy greens to choose from, you’ll never grow bored.
Uses: I love kale, but it’s not always in season. Spinach is my favorite alternative as it’s handy to keep in the freezer for green smoothies in the morning.
The number one spice when it comes to calming inflammation and boosting our immune system. Growing modern research backs this claim, as well as 5,000 odd years of traditional medicinal use in Eastern cultures – where doctors are much more inclined to recommend real foods as sources of ‘intelligent eating”.
Because of its anti-inflammatory effects, turmeric is the perfect post-recovery “food”. It’s also a very potent antioxidant that helps fight cancer, autoimmune illness and promotes heart health.
Uses: In tea (see recipe below), in “Golden Mylk”, in smoothies, sprinkled on savoury dishes or added to curries. Add black pepper and healthy fats to increase absorption. I take a supplement just to be sure!
A naturally sweet-tasting spice that slows glucose absorption and helps stabilize our blood sugar, which is key for sustained energy and mood. Cinnamon also helps to keep insulin stable so you blood sugar stays balanced and it becomes easier to lose weight and manage acne and other inflammatory conditions. Great for pre-diabetics or those with diabetes.
Cinnamon is also a nutritional powerhouse. It helps protect from diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, promotes heart health and is another potent antioxidant that helps mop up free radicals – a major cause of premature aging.
Uses: Add to porridge, granola and baked apples. I like it mixed into plain yogurt. Helps satisfy that sweet tooth!
Everyone likes chocolate, right? But all chocolate is not created equal. Raw cacao is the superfood part of chocolate, meaning it’s unprocessed and retains essential nutrients.
Raw cacao powder is highly nutritious and contains fibre, iron, calcium and magnesium. It is a good source of phenethyamine, an essential amino acid that’s a natural antidepressant and elevates mood. Cacao also boosts endorphins, our body’s natural opiates – which are responsible for the highs we feel after exercising, laughing or having sex. Cocoa also increases serotonin levels – the feel-good hormone. Additional benefits of raw cocoa are that it appears to lower cholesterol, increase blood flow to arteries and boost cognitive performance.
Uses: Hot chocolate or homemade raw chocolate (see The Clever Kitchen website). My favorite way (and the kids’) is blended with frozen bananas and almond milk for a yummy super smoothie.
Chlorella is virtually a perfect food, offering all the amino acids to form an excellent source of easily absorbable protein and other nutrients. Supplementing with chlorella is like unleashing a tiny army inside your body to fight the battle of removing toxins from your tissues and eliminating them from your body.
It’s a very useful detoxification tool. We’re bombarded by toxins in our air, water, food, and from within by mercury amalgam fillings. Our liver needs all the support it can get. Chlorella offers that support abundantly because of its small size (it’s a tiny micro-algae) and unique properties. Its molecular structure allows it to bond to metals, chemicals and some pesticides that linger in your digestive tract, which is your body’s pathway to your bloodstream where these harmful toxins are delivered and deposited into your body’s cells.
Uses: I like to add it to my morning green smoothies, but you can sprinkle on pasta dishes, salads, soups – even use in raw chocolate.
7. Raw Organic Hemp Seeds and powder
The seed of the hemp plant is a highly versatile and nutrient-rich food. They’re a perfect blend of protein, fiber, essential fatty acids and antioxidants. Hemp seeds are especially useful because they contain high concentrations of health-promoting omega fatty acids and are an ideal source of vegan protein.
I eat hemp every day as it’s a great source of plant-based protein, containing all the essential amino acids. In addition, hemp contains other vitamins and minerals that are crucial to our well-being; iron, vitamin B6, zinc, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus.
Uses: Hemp seeds have a mildly nutty taste and are easily digestible. Eat alone as a snack, use in baking or sprinkle on any dish. Use hemp powder in smoothies to boost protein content.
8. Himalayan salt
It’s delicious. Whether you add to your warm lemon water in the morning or sprinkle it on your vegetables, it exults the taste of food and generally makes everything taste better. The claims about the 84 trace minerals are greatly exaggerated (only 16 trace minerals are essential for us humans), but one thing you can’t argue with is that it’s purer.
Table salt is stripped of minerals, bleached and has added undesirables like anti-caking chemicals and flow agents. Sea salts, unfortunately, are becoming more and more polluted as the oceans fill up with toxins. Himalayan salt is mined from ancient sea beds that predate modern times and the industrial age, so it is pure from modern environmental toxins.
Uses: I can start the day with Himalayan salt in warm water and sprinkle on most of my food, especially veggies.
I try to incorporate these eight foods into my meals daily. I hope you’ll join me in adding them to your routine too!
For nutritional consultations on a wide range of health issues contact Susan Tomassini, Licensed Nutritionist BSc (Hons) Dip BCNH @ 06 17481114 or visit www.foodwise.life
Immune Boosting Turmeric Tea
2 cups boiled water
1 inch peeled chopped ginger root
1 tsp raw honey
¼ tsp turmeric
juice of ½ lemon
A tea pot
Add the boiling water to a tea pot or bring to boil on the stove. Add the ginger, honey, turmeric and lemon juice and let steep for 5 minutes before serving, if using a pan on the stove cover with a plate. Serve and enjoy.