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8 Superfoods You Should Be Eating Right Now

Shannon is a wife, mother, and educator who loves writing about everything she can.

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Delicious and Good for You, Too

Our family recently went through a huge change as we began developing a diet built around only putting calories into our body that will benefit us. We shunned empty calories derived from processed, refined sugar to embrace nutrient-rich, life-sustaining food.

There are great benefits to this change. The quality of our lives has improved without buying any new gadgets or getting a bigger this or that. To name a few overall improvements, there is less stress in our home, we have better night's sleep, everyone has a greater amount of energy, and our digestive tracts seem to be loving the change. It should also be mentioned that the two over 30 adults in our home have lost inches off their waist without deliberately intending to.

So, what have we done differently to improve the quality of life in our family? Our menu changes are significant since we eliminated sugar and trans fat, but there are some foods that have proven to be essential to helping us thrive. The following foods are on our grocery list each week to build into breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals, as well as snacks.

  • Cherries
  • Blueberries
  • Flaxseed
  • Quinoa
  • Steel-Cut Oats
  • Legumes (of many sorts and varieties)
  • Brown Rice

Each of these foods has such tremendous health benefits that we've found creative ways to include them in our diets throughout the day. Read more to see the many ways they've been incorporated into our everyday meal experiences.

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What About Cherry Pie and Other Indulgences?

I love dessert. In fact, my relentless sweet tooth is notorious for causing me to seek out treats all day long, including candy and ice cream.

So, what about adding your favorite fruit and vegetables into a delectable treat like cherry pie or carrot cake? Will it have the same benefits? Well, if you make it all from scratch you do eliminate the toxins and excess sugar that you'll be ingesting from a store-bought variety.

Still, I would just chalk it up to dessert. Even homemade desserts will generally not have any health benefits. Simply put, the sugar and/or fat content in the treat will heavily outweigh any nutritive value it may have. So, if you decide to have a treat it may make you feel better to include a superfood in its preparation, but understand that you should still eat it in limited amounts.

Choose Cherries

Fresh, red, tart cherries are a delicious treat any time of day. But, did you know they also have an overwhelming amount of health benefits packed into their tiny, round form? Cherries are full of the usual good food nutrients like Vitamin C, potassium, and fiber, but they are unique in that they also possess antioxidants that do all this:

  1. Reduce muscle and back pain
  2. Promote bone health
  3. Regulate sleep patterns
  4. Strengthen collagen to prevent signs of aging
  5. Improve memory
  6. Reduce belly fat
  7. Lower risks for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes
  8. Prevent cancer
  9. Fight free radicals
  10. Fight, prevent, and reduce inflammation

If the produce section at your local grocer were high school, cherries would be the kid everybody loved because they were just so awesome. So, how do we incorporate this delicious fruit into our meals?

  • Have a cup of fresh cherries as a snack
  • Pit them and add them to bran cereal or plain yogurt
  • Use them to make a compote and add them to a pot of steel-cut oats
  • Sprinkle dried cherries onto a fresh spinach, radish, and carrot salad

Find Out More About Cherries

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Benevolent Blueberries

This fruit has been amazing for me. The addition of blueberries to my diet has increased my energy levels in ways I could never have imagined. In fact, after adding a 1/2 cup to my cereal or plain yogurt I don't need coffee or tea or anything in the morning. I'm ready to get a full day underway. In the middle of cleaning or clearing away toys for the fourth time I stop and think about how different I feel compared to before I was consuming these precious jewels on a regular basis.

Blueberries are packed with fantastic benefits, similar to cherries. While cherries and blueberries share many of the same benefits, they each hold their own so that every household should regularly consume both. In fact, for women they have two very important properties.

Blueberries are great in cereal and yogurt, but they also make a great fruit salad mixed with strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Toss them into a small cup of cottage cheese or add them to the top of your morning bagel with a lowfat cream cheese. After dinner slightly boil them in 2 tablespoons of regular sugar just until they burst, sprinkle the fresh juice of one small lemon on top and serve over a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt. Spectacularly enticing!

Natural Enough

Believe it or not, the protein content in flaxseed gel makes it a great product for the health of your hair. Check out this video by Naptural85 who explains how to use it to make your very own hair gel. But, remember to use separate pots and containers for it, just as you would for homemade soaps or soapcakes.

Another Use For Flaxseed...Hair Gel

Friendly Flaxseed

I have to admit, flax is something I had never heard of until I began seeking ways to limit PMS symptoms. And, even then I was clueless about where to find it and what to do with it if I did. Then one fateful morning my husband brought it home and declared he was adding it to his diet because it included a ton of health benefits. Well, since he often makes these declarations that don't last for very long, I decided to help this time and seek out ways to make it a part of our menu. After all, flax packs enough fiber, potassium, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat, antioxidants, and protein to take a permanent seat at our family's table.

But, how? Well, since it comes in seed form there are several different things one can do to include it in their diet. I have many plans for using it in homemade bread recipes and baked crackers. But for now I've been able to add it to oatmeal, turkey meatloaf, red beans and rice, homemade spaghetti sauce, and salmon patties. It has worked wonders for digestion and energy.

I'm sure this seed is versatile enough that I'll find many creative ways to keep it on the menu in our home.

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Quintessential Quinoa

When I heard about the benefits of quinoa I was so excited to run right out to get some. I began looking on my grocer's shelves near the rice and at our Sprout's Farmer's Market. Boy, was I taken aback at the cost of buying just one pound of it. At it's cheapest it's $6.99 / pound so that's somewhat cost prohibitive in a family of five. I had to start small. One cup of it can potentially serve four so I just get a couple of cups of it at a time in bulk at Sprout's and serve it maybe twice a week.

Quinoa is a little like rice or couscous so finding delicious ways to prepare it is simple.

  • A well seasoned bed of quinoa can be delicious as a side dish.
  • Mix it with bell peppers, garlic, and onions to add some depth to its flavor.
  • Use it as a base and serve black-eyed peas on top.
  • Mix it with ground turkey, feta cheese, and kale and stuff the mixture into a hollowed-out bell pepper. This proves to be a delicious meal that happens to also have an amazing amount of nutrient rich caloric content.
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Hard-As-Steel-Cut Oats

As a working mom I used to include "Starbucks" in my regular diet. As such, I would try their steel-cut oatmeal without really knowing why the steel-cut variety was different or any more significant than any other kind of oats. I just knew I didn't want the greasy alternatives I could get at other fast food breakfast destinations.

When we began to focus on our health more intensely I investigated the difference between steel-cut oatmeal and just plain old oatmeal that got hacked up any kind of way. The investigation proved enlightening. In my research, I found out about grains and oats and discovered that processed grains have been stripped of much of its nutritional content during the milling process. This is a huge disappointment. Some loaves of bread can cost $4 or $5 while claiming to be whole grain this and multi-grain that, but you have to do your due diligence in reading the ingredients and nutrition facts to know whether that price is worth it. What a stark revelation. Only stone ground whole meal is guaranteed to have its nutritional content, but it's seldom found on any store shelf since it doesn't preserve well.

However, when it comes to oats the outcomes are a little different. Cutting the oats with steel as opposed to rolling them, as with regular oatmeal, doesn't affect the nutritional content, only the taste and consistency. Of course, instant oatmeal may have a tremendous amount of added sugar, which can potentially cancel out the nutritive value. Avoid the sugary varieties, but definitely include oats in your superfood diet. They carry a significant amount of protein and fiber. They are also an excellent source of iron and B vitamins. Traditionally it's eaten as a breakfast meal, but it can be dressed up to serve in many different ways.

  • Add fresh fruit to it once it's cooked.
  • Add a little brown sugar and maple flavoring or pure maple syrup.
  • Add it to some toasted breadcrumbs in a food processor and coat chicken tenders or chicken breasts in it for a satisfying oven fried entrée.
  • Toast the oats in the oven before cooking them on the stove to add a nutty flavor that delights even the pickiest of taste buds.
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Luscious Legumes

The legume family hosts many popular, and not so popular foods that we all at least know if we don't love them. Beans and some nuts are all a part of the pantheon and are full of fiber, protein, iron, and many other healthful benefits that are too many to list here.

What makes them less desirable is their propensity for blandness, their texture, and sometimes the excess gas they can produce depending on how they are cooked. Of course, the health benefits of eating legumes far outweigh the obstacles which can be easily overcome with a little creativity and keen cooking skills. Here are some ways we've prepared and eaten legumes in recent weeks.

  • Black eyed peas seasoned with onions, red, yellow, and green bell pepper, and diced jalapenos. *Cook with a bouillon cube and a strip of turkey bacon.
  • White and black bean soup with shredded chicken, diced chiles, spinach, and onion
  • Bed of brown rice with black, kidney, and pinto beans served on top
  • Lentils boiled with salad noodles, green and red cabbage, in a vegetable broth served with smoked sausage
  • Great northern beans with homemade barbecue sauce simmered on the stove and then baked for 1 hour
  • All natural peanut butter sandwiched between homemade flaxseed baked cheddar crackers


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Breaking Bountiful Brown Rice

Manganese, selenium, B vitamins, phosphorus, magnesium...one could go on and on about the nutritive excellence found in brown rice. But, it makes you wonder what's the problem with just getting white rice? Well, white rice is what you get after you strip brown rice of the aforementioned nutritive properties. In fact, the reason bags and boxes of white rice say "enriched" is because B vitamins and iron are artificially added to white rice after its processing is complete. Short story: just do brown rice.

I used to hate the idea that I had to suffer through eating a heap of brown rice. I could never seem to perfect it to be as fluffy or taste as pleasant as white rice. It also came out kind of crunchy in texture. What I realized is that it simply needed 2 and 1/2 parts water for every 1 part rice. So, if I boil 1 cup of brown rice, instead of adding 2 cups of water I add 2 and 1/2 cups of water and let it simmer on low a little longer to absorb it all. I also make sure to cook it with 1/2 tbsp. of olive oil or 1/2 tbsp. of regular butter. Of course, olive oil is better, but if none is on hand I go for pure butter, no substitutes. Oil and butter are not necessary, but I don't like sticky rice so I use it minimally. It's up to each individual how they prepare it.

I do all the same things with brown rice that I would do with white rice and it's just as pleasant and enjoyable, if not more because I know I'm putting some of the most beneficial nutrients into my and my family's body. Here are some of the dishes I've used it in recently:

  • As a plain side dish for tostadas and beans (add a little turmeric / saffron for flavor)
  • As a bed to serve with beans, stir fry veggies, or peas
  • In soups
  • As a dessert by adding horchata, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground cloves
  • To beef up couscous (mix together after both are cooked and season to taste)
  • In a chicken or ground turkey burrito with beans
  • Atop enchiladas (add sauce, then rice, then another layer of sauce)
  • Countless casseroles

These are all ideas that just come up as I'm preparing dinner. If you're creative ideas will come to you as well and you'll find it easier and easier to include brown rice in your favorite dishes.

Take A Health Profile

Superfoods Change The Game

Adding foods rich in fiber, protein, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals is a surefire way to change your life. The great thing about it is these are delicious foods. If you're creative enough you can develop some of the tastiest meals you've ever had while enjoying their low fat, high nutrient status. Whether mixing de-pitted, sliced cherries into your warm steel-cut oats, or devouring a burst of flavor from chile-lime-cilantro quinoa, you'll be pleased with the positive outcomes for your health and overall well-being

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Comments

Shannon Powell (author) from USA on August 03, 2014:

Thanks Better Yourself. Sorry about the quinoa. It may be something that has to grow on you. Have you tried cooking it in organic chicken broth. Sometimes that flavor makes all the difference.

Shannon Powell (author) from USA on August 03, 2014:

Hi Penny G! I'm glad we're on the same page.

Shannon Powell (author) from USA on August 03, 2014:

Hi Ariel-Cal! That's great. I'll bet you feel fantastic.

Better Yourself from North Carolina on August 01, 2014:

Great and healthy hub! I'm a big fan of the foods you've included and we've made a huge step in our family as well to eat clean. Not a huge fan of the Quinoa though.

Penny Godfirnon from Southern Iowa on August 01, 2014:

I was aware of this but many others may not be, thank you for sharing these tools to help others begin to get healthy.

Evelia Veronica Rivera from Bridgeport, CT on July 31, 2014:

Thanks very much! I have already started implementing some of these foods!

Shannon Powell (author) from USA on July 31, 2014:

Thanks incomeguru.

Shannon Powell (author) from USA on July 31, 2014:

Thanks phdast7. I'm glad you found the info useful.

Shannon Powell (author) from USA on July 31, 2014:

Yes, cherries are delicious. They're only available at certain times of the year where I am, but then frozen cherries or cherry juice are available year round. When I can get them I use them in just about any dish I can.

Shannon Powell (author) from USA on July 31, 2014:

Hi Audrey Howitt, thank you.

Michelle Scoggins from Fresno, CA on July 31, 2014:

SRPowell thank you for laying out the health implications to many great foods. I think that it is great that your family has transitioned to all healthy food. I find a boost in my energy as well when I eat whole foods. I will definitely try flax seed since I didn't know it helped with PMS. Voted Up.

Suzette Walker from Taos, NM on July 31, 2014:

You are right, these are super foods and I eat them as much as I can. I love steel cut oatmeal much more than regular oatmeal. I can literally taste the difference. It is a shame that these foods are so expensive. I don't know how families do it.

Oyewole Folarin from Lagos on July 31, 2014:

My kids like taking oatmeal in the morning. After cooking for like 5 minutes, we then add milk to taste. Good informative hub. Thanks for sharing!

Theresa Ast from Atlanta, Georgia on July 31, 2014:

Excellent Hub filled with great ideas and suggestions. Very Helpful. Thanks. :)

georgescifo from India on July 30, 2014:

Cherries are one of the favorite fruit and really love having them at any time of the day

Kevin W from Texas on July 30, 2014:

This is a great list of healthy foods SRPowell. I personally had to develop a tolerance for quinoa, didn't go down well or maybe I didn't prepare it correctly. Thumbs up on your hub.

Audrey Howitt from California on July 30, 2014:

So useful! I hadn't thought about cherries as part of this class of foods, but it makes sense--

Shannon Powell (author) from USA on July 30, 2014:

Thanks Bob Francis. I'll have to look for ground flax seed in my next venture to the grocery store. Since it's summer we've been devouring cherries like crazy, but once summer is over we may just have to invest in actual cherry juice. Thanks for sharing.

Shannon Powell (author) from USA on July 30, 2014:

Hi vocalcoach, thank you. It's good to know that eating healthy has such great benefits. And, if your name means what I think it means, you're speaking my language as well. I've been singing since I was only 6 years old and it's one of my favorite things to do besides write. I think I'll mosey on over to your hub as soon as I get a chance!

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on July 30, 2014:

Well, I am now a big fan! You're talking my language. Been a vegetarian (I do eat salmon and egg whites) for 10 years and I look and feel half my age. Thanks for this healthy hub. Congratulations on being nominated a 'Rising Star.' Voted up and more and sharing. Audrey

Bob Francis on July 30, 2014:

Good hub, I might add, I add Ground Flax seed to my "gourmet" Oatmeal it's a great source Omega 3 and you don't need to worry about the contamination that may accompany fish oil. Black cherry juice has also been recommended for sufferers of Gout!

Shannon Powell (author) from USA on July 29, 2014:

Great, thanks Crissylite.

Shannon Powell (author) from USA on July 29, 2014:

Thank you enina!

Shannon Powell (author) from USA on July 29, 2014:

Hi quicksamba. Thanks, I'm glad the hub was helpful. In the region where I live I can find quinoa everywhere, even Target. The problem I find is that it's really expensive, except at Sprout's where it's usually about 6 bucks / pound.

Shannon Powell (author) from USA on July 29, 2014:

Hi rebeccamealey! I really did laugh out loud, I'm glad I could help with the reminder!

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on July 29, 2014:

Love it all except for the Q stuff. I never could quite get into that. Thanks for reminding me I am out of flax seed lol, AWESOME Hub!

Crissylite on July 26, 2014:

Thanks for sharing this information. I'm Pinning this.

Enina from Chicago on July 21, 2014:

Thank you for this! Love eating healthy.

Jack Quick from Las Vegas, NV on July 21, 2014:

This is a great hub. Good job! I love that, other than maybe quinoa, all these "super foods" can be found in your typical supermarket. :)

Scott Upham Jr. from New York on July 18, 2014:

Great info, thank you!

Poppy from Enoshima, Japan on July 15, 2014:

I'm so happy that cherries are so good for us! It's a shame that non-processed superfoods are so expensive. Looks like it's worth the investment though. Thanks for the useful information!

Ashish Deshpande from Mumbai on July 15, 2014:

fantastic hub...appreciate every detail in it...gotta try few of these dishes now!!

Shannon Powell (author) from USA on July 14, 2014:

Me too...they're the perfect treat.

Shannon Powell (author) from USA on July 14, 2014:

Thanks Sed-me, I hope it was useful.

Shannon Powell (author) from USA on July 14, 2014:

Hi Thelma. You know, my experience has been that they don't have a strong flavor in most of the foods I add them to. But, I have heard that if you toast them in the oven first they can add a slight nutty flavor to your meals. Otherwise, so far in all my applications they have only added nutrients, no taste really. This is actually a good thing since it means you can easily add it to just about anything without having to think about how it will change the taste. Thanks for reading.

Shannon Powell (author) from USA on July 14, 2014:

You're welcome...I love blueberries too.

Shannon Powell (author) from USA on July 14, 2014:

Thanks Lee Kathryn...I hope it inspires healthy, but delicious living!

Shannon Powell (author) from USA on July 14, 2014:

Thanks gmwilliams, your comment embodies the purpose and meaning of the article. I really appreciate it!

Grace Marguerite Williams from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York on July 13, 2014:

This is an extremely informative and educational article. This hub should be recommended reading for all parents who want their children to be in the best of health and to have the best and cost efficient nutrition possible. We are truly what we eat.

Thelma Alberts from Germany and Philippines on July 13, 2014:

I have not tried eating flaxseeds. I hope I´ll like the taste. Thanks for sharing.

alamin khan from dhaka, bangladesh on July 12, 2014:

I love blueberries

Susan Ramsey from Killen, AL on July 11, 2014:

Blueberries is one of my favorites. Thanks for sharing this information! (:

Elisabeth Ellis from Nashville, TN. on July 10, 2014:

Excellent article. I enjoyed it.

Rachel Rasdall from Chicago, Illinois on July 08, 2014:

Great Hub! Everything looks delicious....

Shannon Powell (author) from USA on July 08, 2014:

Thanks gojipro!

Jerry Floyd from Polk City on July 08, 2014:

Nice blogs