There are foods we eat because they are familiar and comforting, and then there are foods we might not eat because they are mysterious and “healthy.”
Why not make them less mysterious, and think of them as “functional?”
The following foods are helpful in satisfying hunger, burning fat and reducing your chance of developing illnesses such as heart disease and cancer. These are foods that could be deemed “superfoods,” but since that term is a bit cliché, we'll just say they are foods that can be very functional to the body by offering lots of benefits!
Take a risk and try at least one of these this week:
Jill Koegel is a registered dietitian and certified personal trainer based in Omaha. She blogs every Wednesday. Read more from Jill.
Not only is soy helpful in lowering LDL or “bad” cholesterol, but it is also helpful in satisfying cravings. Edamame is essentially a soybean, balanced in carb and protein, and a great source of fiber, all of which help tame your hunger. A serving of one cup of edamame in the pods (don't eat the pod!) has 150 calories, 12 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber. Talk about filling! Use a very small amount of sea salt for flavor, or try other sodium-free options like lemon pepper or lime juice and chili powder.
Delicious on it's own, or used to top celery or apple slices, sunflower butter is made from roasted sunflower seeds. The SunButter brand offers peanut allergy-friendly varieties that are also gluten-free. It has less saturated fat than peanut butter, more iron and fiber, and a healthy dose of inflammation-fighting vitamin E.
While not enjoyable for taste, since they have no taste, ground flax seeds offer many of the benefits of fish oils, without the fishy aftertaste. High in omega-3s, antioxidants, and fiber, purchase flax seed as “milled” or “ground” for the best absorption. Ground flax can be added to many foods. This increases the functional power of your meal in fighting disease, filling you up and helping digestion.
I know this is overdone, but if you think you only like eggs with the yolks, PLEASE try again! Here is a simple way: cook 2 to 3 egg whites (1/3 cup or so) on the stove. When they are almost set, add 1 tablespoon of 2-percent shredded cheese, and 1 to 2 tablespoons of salsa or a dash of Tabasco sauce (I like the green kind!). You can add any other chopped veggies as well. Fold them over, omelet style. Toast a whole grain English muffin, or use a high protein wrap such as Flatout to serve your egg whites. You can also top these with a slice of deli ham to add protein and flavor. With 10-plus grams of lean protein, this is a snack or breakfast that will satisfy you through the morning or afternoon!
Sprouted Wheat Bread
If you think you might be gluten intolerant, but can eat a little wheat without having symptoms, you might be gluten sensitive and could have better luck with sprouted-grain products. This type of bread has smaller starch molecules that are potentially easier on the GI tract. Vitamins and minerals in sprouted products may also be easier to absorb. Two great tasting brands are Ezekiel, and Trader Joe's, though there are many to choose from!
If you are allergic, of course, these are not foods you should consume. But if you aren't allergic, you have to try them! I promise you, whether it is for health, hunger, or happiness, you will like at least one of these great foods. Add them in place of other, less healthy foods, and you will make a big difference in your overall health.