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10 Feel-good Super-foods I Keep in my Kitchen at all Times

Updated: Mar 14, 2019

This may or may not be surprising to you, but the secret to eating healthy actually has nothing to do with deprivation. In fact, what I've personally found on my own wellness journey and through my clients experiences is that when it comes to eating better and feeling good, adding foods has a greater impact than removing foods. Especially when done strategically.

Ultimately the desire to eat better comes down to two common drivers - weight-loss or health. The difference is when it comes to weight loss, eating habits usually involve the removal of certain foods which work for the short-term but leave you feeling deprived. When it comes to health however, it's more about learning and developing health promoting eating habits. The great thing about the latter is that weight-loss usually happens as a bonus. It's a win-win!

My philosophy around healthy eating is to swap before you remove. Modify your current eating habits by swapping out ingredients for better ones. This gives you the feeling of having your cake and eating it too.

If you stepped into my kitchen at any given time you will find 10 items. These foods have become staples over the years but let me just tell you it didn't happen overnight. My advice is to pick one ingredient and start playing around with it. Try adding it to your current recipes or experiment with new ones until you start to like it.

My Tip: When someone says they've "tried" something and didn't like it as if to never try it again, it seriously breaks my heart. I'm going to let you in on a little secret, you're not going to love everything you try for the first time. The key here is to be open to trying it again in a different way. It's kind of like when trying to introduce foods to toddlers, you NEVER try once and give up. Keep reintroducing foods until it sticks.

Here are 10 feel-good super-foods I keep in my kitchen at all times

1. Oats

I like to think of oats as a super-food. They are a great source of complex carbohydrates, resistant starch, beta-glucans, protein, zinc, iron, selenium, and magnesium. They are also much higher in fat than other grains making them more filling and satisfying. The nutrients found in oats make them a great immune supportive and hormone supportive food.

Ways to eat them:

  • Eat them as a porridge with chopped nuts, plant-based milk and fruit

  • Grind them into a flour for baking

  • Toss some rolled oats into a smoothie for some added soluble fiber and protein

2. Buckwheat (Kasha)

This naturally gluten-free grain is actually not a grain at all. In fact, buckwheat is actually considered a seed. Buckwheat has many benefits including cholesterol reducing, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer. These benefits relate to their flavonoids and how they are metabolized in the colon.

They are an excellent source of plant-based protein and provide many nutrients, vitamins and minerals that promote a healthy GI, blood sugar balance, and adrenal health.

Ways to consume it:

  • Ground into a flour for baking

  • Add to soups

  • Replace rice in rice-based dishes

  • Soak overnight and puree in the morning along with fruit, nut milk, and maple syrup for a healthy breakfast

  • Cook for 10 minutes and add berries, milk, lemon juice, chia seeds, cinnamon, and maple syrup for a warm comforting winter breakfast

3. Lentils

Naturally high in iron, protein and insoluble fiber, lentils are a fantastic immune supportive, detoxifying and weight-loss food. They are also alkalizing which keeps the body's PH balanced and supports a healthy gut environment. In fact, emphasizing more alkalizing foods reduces stress on the body and helps all systems work better.

Lentils have a hearty texture making them a good alternative to meat. I personally like red lentils for soups as they cook fast and green lentils for more hearty recipes like burgers or casseroles. I eat lentils at least 2-3 times per week.

Ways to consume them:

  • Cook them and puree them as a good source of iron and protein for small children

  • Cook them and toss them in salads and stews

  • Make a taco meat by combining cook lentils, toasted walnuts, and taco seasoning and stuffing them in a tortilla with salsa and avocado

4. Avocado

Rich in monounsaturated fat, soluble and insoluble fiber, magnesium, Vitamin E, C, B5 and B6, avocado are a hormone-friendly powerhouse. I eat them about 4-5 times week. What I love the most about avocados is that they are affordable, available all year around and super versatile.

Ways to consume them:

  • As an alternative to butter or margarine on toast

  • Makes an excellent base for chocolate mouse or pudding

  • Guacamole (obviously!)

  • Toss in smoothies for a healthy dose of fat and vitamins

5. Almonds

These are my go-to post-workout and in between meals snack. A great source of calcium, magnesium, fiber, and fat almonds are an every day staple in my house for sure. I like them for their versatility, convenience, flavor, and alkalinity.

Ways to consume them:

  • Soak a cup and blend with 3 cups of water and 3 dates to make a delicious homemade almond milk (a nut milk bag is a must)

  • Finely chop and toast in the oven for sprinkling on porridge or salads

  • Make a granola by combining with other seeds and seasonings

  • Eat as is for a quick and go snack

6. Dried Figs

A good source of calcium, zinc, selenium, magnesium, fiber, vitamins A, B5 and B6, figs make a sweet and nutritious snack. With lot's of hormone building nutrients it's no wonder they've become a staple in my diet. I eat about 5 per day. They are delicious!

Ways to consume them:

  • Chop them up and put them in granola for an added dose of sweetness

  • Make a quick and easy trail mix by combining chopped figs, nuts and dark chocolate morsels

  • Soak them and blend them with seeds and oats to make delicious energy balls

  • Eat as is!

7. Sweet Potatoes

These are a little lower in carbohydrates than white potatoes and they contain many therapeutic properties. Key nutrients found in sweet potatoes include calcium, magnesium and zinc and they are rich in B vitamins. They are also rich in phytochemicals such as beta-carotene, polyphenols, quercetin, and pectin.

Sweet potatoes are considered a hormone food because they are packed with many hormone supportive nutrients including progesterone building B vitamins. Emphasizing these along with other B vitamin-rich foods during the second half of your cycle can help keep hormones in balance and prevent PMS symptoms.

Ways to consume them:

  • Replace white potatoes with 1/3 of a cup of sweet potatoes

  • Cook them in soups

  • Roast them in the oven and have them in the morning with poached eggs

  • Roast them ahead of time and toss them into scrambles and stir-fry's

8. Leafy Green Vegetables

Broccoli, kale, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts are a must as these are super-foods for the liver and detox. These foods contain compounds known as indoles and sulforaphane which are shown to have anti-cancer and estrogen-balancing effects. These foods are also quite high in minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc and rich in phytochemicals and vitamins. I like to eat them raw or lightly steamed to preserve their beneficial factors.

Ways to consume them:

  • As a base for salads

  • Tossed in soups at the end of cooking time

  • On sandwiches or wraps

  • As a side with toasted sesame oil and garlic

9. Matcha

A fantastic mood enhancer, matcha is my go-to for instant stress relief. The amino acid L-theanine found in green tea has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety while improving mental performance. Matcha contains a powerful class of anti-oxidants known as catechins. EGCg (epigallocatechin gallate) in particular has potent free radical scavenging capabilities. Other beneficial nutrients found in matcha include vitamin C, zinc, selenium and magnesium.

Ways to consume it:

  • Bring water just under a boil (boiled water can make matcha bitter) and pour into a mug. Whisk 2 tsps of matcha powder until dissolved. Alternatively a matcha shaker is much easier.

10. Seeds (Various)

At any given time you will find chia, pumpkin, sunflower, flax and hemp seeds in my freezer. These are a staple in my kitchen because I use them for so many things. Seeds are considered an excellent hormone food because they provide hormone building fats, minerals and phenol's that help to keep our hormones balanced. In fact, there's some schools of thought around using seed cycling as a way to balance hormones and relieve PMS and symptoms of estrogen dominance.

Ways to eat them:

  • In smoothies

  • On salads

  • On cereals

  • As a homemade granola

  • As flour for certain recipes

Adding any of these foods will give your diet a boost of nutrient-density. So play around with foods until you find ways to enjoy them.

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