Are there any foods that stand out? Should they be eaten daily? I prefer these questions way more than when I get asked “what should I avoid?” or “what is the worst food?”. I prefer to focus on what you CAN and SHOULD eat. In my book, there are no “bad” foods. We make bad choices by consuming large quantities of some foods that are not exactly helping our body in any way.
So, let’s start with my list of “BEST” foods. I prefer to have “best” options in all types/groups of foods. In terms of healthful starches, I prefer whole grains especially old fashioned oats. They are so versatile and easy to use.Oats are great for breakfast, can be added to smoothies, can be consumed cold or hot, can be sweet or savory. Plus, just a serving of 1/2 cup (dry) provides you 4 grams of fiber (nearly half of it being soluble, the one that helps reduce cholesterol). Other whole grains, such as quinoa, wheat berries and farro as well as barley are also great options. Farro or Barley risotto are a family favorite.
Don’t forget the starchy root vegetables. Sweet potatoes and Butternut Squash are great substitutes for grains. They are also high in vitamin A, potassium and fiber. Roasting these with some onion, garlic and olive oil makes for a simple, delicious and colorful side dish.
When it comes to fruits, top of my list is always berries. Whichever berries happen to be in season. All berries are high in fiber and antioxidants. The vibrant colors of the berries add a special appeal to the meal. During colder months when berries are not readily available, choose frozen berries. As long as there is no added sugar frozen berries provide the same nutritional benefits. Eating any fruits that are in season, also provides you the variety in taste, texture and nutrients.
Green vegetables, especially dark green leafy kind will be the best choice. Almost all greens (spinach, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, chard) are loaded with vitamin A and K as well as calcium, iron, magnesium and folate.
Just remember to cook them with a bit of acid (lemon juice, vinegar) to help your body absorb the minerals.
When it comes to protein sources I would have a tie between beans and fish, especially Salmon. All beans are great sources of protein, fiber, folate, zinc, copper and magnesium. Choose the ones you like best. Beans are available as dry, canned (choose without salt) and frozen. Salmon is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Choose wild caught over farm raised.
As for dairy, nonfat plain greek yogurt tops my list. You eat it by itself, add fruit and small amounts of granola to make parfait or add it to recipes that call for sour cream and heavy cream to lighten them. Greek yogurt is made by straining out the liquid. So it has almost twice as much protein. A 5oz. serving (stand yogurt cups you can buy) has 13-15 grams protein.
So there you have it, “Best Foods” list! This does not mean other foods in each category are not to be included in your diet. Include these most often for nutritious meals.