5. Add Some Tasty Antioxidants to Your Smoothie
Everyone loves a great smoothie. You can pack these drinks with ultra-healthy fruits such as blueberries and strawberries. Blueberries are one of the ultimate superfoods, low in calories and loaded with antioxidant properties. Strawberries are also a great source of antioxidants and fiber and have several heart-healthy properties. But don’t stop there. For a little variety, add some kiwi fruit, raspberries or blackberries. Even if you don’t like these fruits, added in small amounts, their taste is lost in the overall blend, but you still get the health benefits. As for a good smoothie recipe, it’s hard to go wrong experimenting with your own blend, but here are a couple of hundred recipes, with user ratings, on AllRecipes.com.
4. Experiment With Some Homemade Salsa Recipes
Tomatoes have health benefits in their raw state, whether sliced for a sandwich or cut into chunks in a salad, but cooked tomatoes have a much greater nutritional value. A 2002 Cornell University study found that cooking tomatoes increases their content of lycopene, a great antioxidant. Spaghetti sauce is one way to get more cooked tomatoes into your diet, but a better, more fun way might be to cook some homemade salsa. Mix in some chili peppers — which studies show may help lower your cholesterol level and blood pressure and aid in weight loss — and you have a delicious, potent mix of superfoods.
3. Have Your Own Chili Cook-Off
People don’t usually associate chili with healthy eating, as it’s often linked with foods that aren’t so healthy (think chili dogs and chili cheese fries). Add the right ingredients, though, and your pot of homemade chili can be very nutritious. In general, you want to go light on the meat and sausage, and add plenty of diced tomatoes, chilies and beans. Beans are not glamorous, but they are low in calories and high in fiber, protein and nutrients. If you use red kidney beans in a recipe, be sure to cook them thoroughly. Best of all, many recipes allow for easy preparation in a crockpot, giving you a healthy, home-cooked meal you don’t need to worry about making after a tough day at work. Here are three-dozen great chili recipes from CookingLight.com.
2. Remake Your Trail Mix
A tried and true snack food popular with hardcore triathletes and couch potatoes alike, trail mix can be both filling and nutritious. A little tweaking of the ingredients can make your trail mix a powerful blend of fruit, fiber and antioxidants that tastes great. Most trail mix recipes include some sort of dried fruit, often raisins, and peanuts. Substitute dried blueberries and/or cranberries for the raisins to boost the antioxidant punch of your mix. Add some almonds, which are lower in calories than peanuts. Sprinkle in some dark chocolate M&M’s for the powerful antioxidant properties of dark chocolate, and you’re ready to hit the trail … or the sofa to watch the big game.
1. Enjoy a Chef Salad With More of the Good Stuff
The term “chef salad” sounds healthy, but many chef salads served in restaurants come loaded with croutons, cheese, and mounds of bacon, ham and turkey that are full of unhealthy nitrates. It’s all slathered in ultra-high-fat salad dressing. Don’t make this same mistake with your chef salad at home. Substitute roasted chicken for those deli sandwich meats. Go easy on the bacon. Add several superfoods, like spinach, broccoli, beans and mandarin oranges, to your bowl. And use a low-fat or fat-free dressing to top the salad. Better yet, use some of your homemade salsa as a dressing. Your waistline will thank you.
The author has written feature content for physicians' websites, created PowerPoint presentations for medical conferences and written for the health and fitness website Livestrong.com.