One Green Planet recently posted an excellent article giving us the 10-4 on the seven cheapest superfoods you can buy. They give their readers some ways to use these foods but as I read the article my mind started whirling with all kinds of quick and easy ways to prepare these affordable superfoods so you can more easily make them recurring items on your menu.
Note: these are not listed in order of their super powers. These are all equally superfoods which you can use at your discretion.
Number 1 on One Green Planet’s list is Spinach
Spinach is rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin K, calcium, folic acid, fiber, carotenoids, and iron. Fresh spinach is fantastic but one of spinach’s super powers is that you can so easily stash a frozen bag in your freezer to have it ready for any dire nutrition situations.
Grab a handful and add to soup, brown rice, pasta, creamy dip, hummus, chili, green juice or fruit smoothie. These might be leftovers, a dish you’re slaving over or frozen or boxed prepared dishes. Depending on the dish you may need to thaw and squeeze dry but for the most part you should be able to get away with adding the frozen spinach right to the dish you’re serving. It doesn’t need to be cooked, just warmed up to a temperature comfortable for consumption.
Garlic Spinach is a favorite at my table. Saute up some onions in a little olive or coconut oil. You can skip this step but I like the sweetness of the onions with the slight bitterness of the spinach. When the onions are almost al dente add LOTS of sliced garlic, sea salt and black pepper to taste. When garlic starts to turn slightly tan add spinach, stir and cover. When the spinach has wilted remove from heat and add a small pinch of nutmeg. Taste and adjust seasoning to taste.
Number 2 is Coconut Oil
Coconut oil can have a profoundly positive effect on your health. Some of it’s amazing super powers include fat loss, stress relief, improved brain function, improved cholesterol levels, increased immunity, and better digestion. These are just a few of the improvements this amazing oil can make in your life.
You can use it to saute with, although it does have a slight coconut flavor so I haven’t completely replaced my olive oil with coconut oil. Because it’s solid when chilled I use it to make a Quick Peanut Butter Chocolate Frosting by melting it together with grain-sweetened chocolate chips and peanut butter.
When making Caramel Sauce I substitute coconut oil for half of the butter.
When making baked goods I substitute coconut oil for 1/4 to all of the butter, depending on if I want a butter flavor or not.
I add a melted tablespoon to fruit smoothies and when it chills it helps to make the smoothie a little thicker. I do the same in green juices and smoothies.
Instead of a mayo-based dressing on fruit salads I make a coconut oil and citrus juice dressing.
Whip into honey for a delicious spread. Add ginger or citrus zest for a little extra kick.
Drizzle over popcorn instead of butter.
Number 3 on the List is Strawberries
Strawberries make the superfoods list due to their power to protect the body from cancer and heart disease, their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds and many more healthy benefits are hidden under that little green cap.
Like spinach, strawberries are easy to keep in your freeze so they’re ready to go when your fridge is empty of fresh fruit and you need something for breakfast or dessert.
A handful of fresh or frozen strawberries tossed into your morning green or fruit smoothie will give you a boost of Vitamin C.
Fresh or frozen strawberries mashed with a little agave nectar for a sweet pancake or ice cream topper.
Fresh strawberries dipped in chocolate make an impressive dessert or decadent snack.
Fresh strawberries sliced on top of a green leafy salad and sprinkled with toasted pecans or walnuts will have your family or guests bowing to your culinary skills.
Dip fresh strawberries in yogurt. Plain, vanilla or fruit-flavored yogurts all work well. To make it even healthier stir some flaxseed or chia seed into the yogurt.
Number 4 is Quinoa
Come on, you didn’t think quinoa would be left off a list of superfoods did you? Quinoa is a gluten free seed that’s loaded with protein, fiber and minerals. It is almost always grown organically although you’ll want to read the label to be sure if that’s something that’s important to you.
You can use quinoa in all of the same ways that you would use brown rice, couscous or millet. So go ahead and use it in some of your favorite recipes.
Add cooked quinoa to soups and casseroles.
Mix chopped vegetables, cooked quinoa and salad dressing for a high protein, fiber rich salad.
If you’re making soup or stew you can toss in some uncooked quinoa, just take into account that it will absorb about one and a half times it’s volume in water and takes about 12 minutes to cook.
Add cooked quinoa to burgers and meatloaf to cut down on meat in your diet.
Number 5 is Himalayan Pink Sea Salt
Until I read One Green Planet’s article I didn’t know that all sea salt isn’t created equally! Himalayan pink sea salt contains high doses of calcium, copper, potassium, magnesium and iron. What I did know is that I use much less salt because it tastes so good. It adds a clean flavor to your food that is hard to describe until you try it.
Now I know I don’t have to tell you how to use salt. Just pick up a grinder of Himalayan pink sea salt and use a bit less than you would when using normal table salt.
Number 6 – Bananas
Bananas are rich in potassium and a natural sweetener.When adding them to green or fruit smoothies I find I don’t need to add any other sweetener. I use half a banana per serving.
Mash ripe bananas with applesauce and use in place of maple syrup on your pancakes, waffles and french toast.
Slice green bananas, coat them with chocolate and stash in the freezer for dessert or snack time.
Add mashed ripe bananas to oatmeal and I bet you won’t miss the brown sugar.
Add sliced bananas to sugar-free cereal and see if your kiddos notice it’s not Captain Crunch in their bowls.
And Number 7 is Sweet Potatoes
Love, love, love sweet potatoes. As with any orange vegetable you can bet that sweet potatoes are loaded with beta-carotene, but they are also heavy on other vitamins and minerals
My absolutely favorite way to have sweet potatoes is to cut them into wedges, like fries. Spray or lightly coat with oil, sprinkle with sea salt and roast at 400 or 450 degrees until browned.
Sweet potatoes sauteed with onions and seasoned with sea salt are a great side dish for breakfast or dinner. Serve with a bottle of hot sauce on the side.
I add mashed sweet potatoes to mac ‘n cheese. Shhh, if they don’t know it’s in there they won’t complain.
I use mashed sweet potatoes to thicken boxed soups.
Now that you have your list of healthy, easy to make, super cheap, superfoods, go out and get yourself some