With all the “health foods” out there and all the nutritional recommendations that are constantly shoved in our faces, it is easy to get confused and lost amongst what is really truly healthy and what is merely the next “biggest thing!” Let’s face it, I even get confused and fooled at times. But, that’s what this article is all about! I am going to reveal some of my all-time favorite foods and what I really couldn’t live without, AND, I am even going to divulge some of my favorite, easy recipes to help you begin adding these foods into your nutritional plan today! Let’s dive into my kitchen…

1. Avocados:
Avocados are an excellent source of healthy fats. They are considered as one of the healthiest foods on the planet because they contain over 25 essential nutrients, including vitamin A, B, C, E, & K, copper, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium. Avocados also contain fiber, protein, and several beneficial phytochemicals such as beta-sitosterol, glutathione and lutein, which may protect against various disease and illness. What are some health benefits? They help to promote a healthy heart, lower cholesterol, control blood pressure, are anti-inflammatory, improve the quality of the skin, promote eye health, regulate blood sugars, decrease possibility for birth defects, reduces stroke risk, prevents against cancer, fights free radicals, has anti-aging properties, increases nutrient absorption, and helps to fight bad breath.

How to eat them? Slice them up and put onto a sandwich, dice them and put into a salad, mash them and make guacamole, sprinkle sea salt and balsamic vinegar on slices and eat them raw.

2. Coconut oil:
Coconut oil is one of the few foods that can be classified as a “superfood.” Coconut oil has been demonized in the past because it contains saturated fat, however new studies are strongly showing that saturated fats are not as “artery-clogging” as once thought! It is not so much about the saturated fats, rather the quality of what else the food contains. Coconut oil doesn’t contain your average run-of-the-mill saturated fats like you would find in cheese or steak. Its unique combination of fatty acids can have profound positive effects on health, including fat loss, better brain function and various other amazing benefits. Coconut oil contains a unique combination of fatty acids with powerful medicinal properties, known as Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs), which are fatty acids of a medium length. Most of the fatty acids in the diet are so-called long-chain fatty acids, but the medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil are metabolized differently and go straight to the liver from the digestive tract, where they are used as a quick source energy or turned into properties that can have therapeutic effects on brain disorders like epilepsy and Alzheimer’s.

For more amazing benefits on coconut oil, check out: http://coconutoil.com

How to eat it? Spread it on bread, use it to cook, mix it with honey, or simply eat it out of the jar.

3. Dark leafy vegetables:
Dark green leafy vegetables are, calorie for calorie, probably the most concentrated source of nutrition of any food. They are a rich source of minerals and vitamins, including including iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamins K, C, E, and B. They also provide a variety of phytonutrients, which protect our cells from damage and our eyes from age-related problems, among many other effects. They also help to lower blood pressure, decrease chance of cancer, and increase weight loss, just to name a few. Dark green leaves even contain small amounts of Omega-3 fats. Try kale, collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, spinach, swiss chard, romaine lettuce, or cabbage.

How to eat them? Make a salad, put them in a wrap or sandwich, add them to a soup, make a stir fry, steam them, add to an omelet.

4. Berries:
The antioxidants in berries can help your body fight oxidative stress caused by free radicals that can lead to illness, protect your skin and hair, reduce inflammation, slow memory loss, increases health of collagen, decrease eye problems, and prevent certain diseases. There are several powerful antioxidants that appear in berries, including anthocyanins, quercetin, and vitamin C. Berries also contain fiber and folate. Fiber aids in weight loss and helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Folate may protect against cardiovascular disease and age-related memory loss, and since folate contributes to the production of serotonin, it may also help ward off depression and improve your mood.

How to eat them? Top a bowl of berries with a sprinkling of chopped pecans or walnuts, add strawberry slices to a bowl of whole grain cereal, sprinkle blueberries on a salad, combine frozen berries with bananas and almond milk to make a smoothie, add dried berries to warm oatmeal.

5. Sea vegetables:
Seaweed may look like slimy spinach, but this dense green or brown sea vegetable is high in nutrients and packs a variety of health benefits. These include digestive health, cholesterol-lowering effects and weight loss. They provide for optimal thyroid function with their rich source of iodine, have anti-inflammatory properties, help to detoxify the body, reduce risk of cancers, and reduce the risk of heart disease and hypertension. Get your daily dose of a number of essential minerals and vitamins with only a small amount of seaweed such as nori, kelp or kombue.

How to eat it? Flattened nori seaweed sheets are used to roll sushi, add them to a wrap or tuck them inside a sandwich or cut them into strips and toss into a salad or soup. Purchase dried brown or green kelp seaweed strips and add them to breads, pizzas, potatoes, pastas, casseroles, stews and soups. Make seaweed chips by drizzling olive oil onto fresh seaweed pieces and baking until crisp.

6. Hemp seeds:
Hemp Seeds are one of the most nutritious seed in the world. They are a complete protein. They have the most concentrated balance of proteins, essential fats, vitamins and enzymes combined with a relative absence of sugar, starches and saturated fats. Hemp seeds support optimal health and well being, for life. Raw hemp provides a broad spectrum of health benefits, including weight loss, increased and sustained energy, rapid recovery from disease or injury, lowered cholesterol and blood pressure, reduced inflammation, improvement in circulation and immune system as well as natural blood sugar control.

How to eat them? Sprinkle them on a salad, make a protein shake, add them to vegetarian chili, oatmeal, and even pureed bean & vegetable soups.

7. Almonds OR almond butter OR almond milk:
This highly nutritional nut is a rich source of vitamin E, calcium, phosphorous, iron and magnesium. It also contains zinc, selenium, copper and niacin. Compared to all other nuts, almonds are said to be the most packed with nutrients and beneficial components. The health benefits of almonds are extensive, and they are frequently used as a healthy solution for relief from constipation, respiratory disorders, coughs, heart disorders, anemia, impotency, and diabetes. They help with weight loss and energy production. It also helps in maintenance of healthy hair, skin care (psoriasis), and dental care. Just make sure they are raw, unsalted, and preferably unroasted!

How to eat them? Sprinkle them on salads or in cereal, make a trail mix, grind them up to make an almond butter, make almond milk for your cereal or smoothies, eat them as they are.

8. Eggs, organic and free-range:
The benefits of organic eggs are worth the extra cost! They come from chickens that were given 100 percent organic feed, free of any agricultural chemical residues. The feed given to the chickens DO NOT come from crops that are genetically modified, treated with pesticides or herbicides, or fertilized with chemical or synthetic products. The chickens also cannot be treated with hormones, antibiotics or other pharmaceuticals. Organic eggs are free from any of these potentially harmful chemical residues.

Organic eggs are high in omega-3 and are a good source of protein (6 grams for one large egg), iron, riboflavin, vitamin B-12, phosphorus and selenium, and amino acids. They help with maintaining healthy skin, muscles, glands and other organs, growth and repair of cells, maintenance of strong bones and teeth, and decreasing anemia. They aid in metabolism and maintenance of healthy red blood cells, eyes, skin, hair and nails.

How to eat them? Just like you would any conventional egg!

Recipes

1. Kale Salad:

Bunch of kale
1/2 bunch of parsley
1 tsp sea salt
1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 ripe avocado, chopped
1 tsp cumin
Optional: add dulse and/or lemon juice

Chop kale and parsley into very small pieces. Mix in the salt and knead it thoroughly into the greens. Add remaining ingredients and toss thoroughly.

2. Almond Milk:

1 cup almonds, soaked for 8 hours
4 pitted dates
Vanilla extract to taste
Pinch of sea salt
Stevia to taste
4-5 cups water

Blend water and almonds until smooth. Separate almond pulp and almond milk with a cheesecloth and keep the milk mixture (optional for smoother consistency). Add remaining ingredients and almond milk until smooth.

ACTION STEP:

Add at least one of these foods into your nutrition plan daily!