No matter how healthy your family eats, there’s always room for improvement. It’s impossible to have a perfect diet, but it is possible to improve your nutrition little by little every week. Regardless of the fruits and vegetables that are on your family’s plates every day, try incorporating some of these underrated foods.
The Standard American Diet gets the majority of its protein from animal products. It is possible to eat plant-based protein and still reap the benefits. Black beans are high in protein, but they’re also rich in fiber to help you feel full on less food. There is also a small amount of omega-3 fatty acids to promote brain and heart health. Black beans are quite high in the same powerful antioxidants found in blueberries. Serve black beans in enchiladas, eggs, or as tasty burger alternative.
Eggplant doesn’t have the most stellar reputation, but it’s loaded with B vitamins essential for energy. It’s also pretty high in antioxidants that work to protect your brain cells and control your cholesterol levels. Eggplant can be cooked in a variety of ways. The most popular recipe is eggplant parmesan, but it’s also quite delicious on pizza, roasted and served with a whole grain bread, or baked with herbs and quality cheese.
With the popularity of the “paleo” diet, many people are turning away from grains in general. This is unfortunate because the fiber and nutrients found in whole grains are shown to reduce heart disease, certain cancers, and diabetes. Whole grains also lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar. Avoid bread labeled as “multigrain”, “enriched”, or “made with whole grains”. There might be whole grains present, but the majority of the product will be refined grains. Check for breads from places like Klosterman Baking Company that are called 100% whole wheat.
Quinoa is one of the few complete proteins that aren’t animal-based. Not only do you get a whole protein, you’re getting the accompanying amino acids needed to build your muscles and boost your metabolism. How do you eat quinoa? Replace your rice with quinoa and you’ll hardly notice a difference (except for not being hungry again within an hour of eating). It doesn’t have much flavor naturally, so it takes on the taste of whatever you cook it with. It makes a wonderful rice substitute in stir fries.
Healthy doesn’t have to be boring or limiting. There are so many healthy foods out there to add to your regular meal rotation that you’ll never be bored or tired of your meals.