Boost your holiday nutrition with superfoods!

web Superfoods

By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer, slyles@newsandpress.net

With Thanksgiving and Christmas practically upon us, ’tis the season for cooking – and eating – holiday favorites. But there’s no reason these family meals and social gatherings can’t serve up dishes both nutritious and delicious. Consider including some of these superfood ingredients in menu planning to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy and energized.

Onions add great flavor and health benefits to everything from turkey stuffing to roasted veggies, but they also contain high levels of flavonols, which can help cut down your risk of cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis. Since they contain quercetin, an anti-inflammatory compound and antioxidant, onions have also been shown to help lower the risk of certain types of cancer, some age-related degenerative diseases. Onions might make us cry sometimes, but their health benefits are worth the tears.

Pumpkins, a variety of winter squash, are packed with carotenoids that can guard against heart disease and age-related vision loss. Pumpkin also has tons of vitamin A and iron – plus its a low-cal food, with less than 50 calories per cup! Recipes for pumpkin pie abound, but try mixing cooked pumpkin into a smoothie or adding it to chocolate desserts for a yummy boost.

Nutmeg contributes an exotic, spicy flavor to holiday apple cider and jazzes up a lackluster bowl of hot cereal, and it also can preserve your dental health. Nutmeg contains antimicrobial compounds that kill damaging bacteria in the mouth, and some studies have show its anti-inflammatory properties can help protect skin from sun damage and reduce signs of aging.

Sweet potatoes are not just delicious, they are practically overflowing with nutrients: loads of vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E, all with a healthy dose of fiber and a low calorie count. A 4-oz baked sweet potato will average around 100 calories, so unless you load them down with marshmallows or sugar, this nutritious treat won’t really impact your…ahem…bottom line.

Brussels sprouts provide a nice dose of fiber, B vitamins, potassium, and vitamins C and K in a nifty little cruciferous nugget. Veggie cousins with cabbage and cauliflower, Brussels sprouts contain sulforaphane, a compound that protects healthy cells against some types of cancer. An acquired taste for some, these little guys can be made palatable to even picky eaters by sauteing them with a small amount of bacon fat or roasting them in healthier olive oil, onion, and garlic.

Apples make a tasty, nutrient-dense dessert on their own, and they add a beneficial batch of fiber to any pie, tart, or cake – provided you leave the skins on. Apples contain lots of flavanol compounds believed to help slow formation of bad cholesterol (small particle LDL), lower cancer risks, and stave off some age-related degeneration.

Try these recipes (fromThriveMarket.com and Livestrong.com) utilizing the star ingredient of the fall season, pumpkin!

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte
Ingredients
2 ounce double espresso shot, or 4 to 6 ounces of very strong coffee
1 cup organic unsweetened vanilla almond milk (OR if you’re not vegan, 1 cup organic milk)
4 tbsp organic pumpkin puree
1 tbsp real maple syrup
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or your own mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and clove)
1/8 tsp organic vanilla extract
Directions
1. When you have your coffee ready, add the pumpkin, spices, vanilla extract and maple syrup to a mixing glass or blender and mix together. When smooth, remove from blender and pour into mug.
2. Froth your almond milk using the frother on your espresso machine OR if you don’t have an espresso machine, put your milk into a saucepan and cook at medium heat until it’s simmering. Pour into the blender and blend on high until it gets frothy.
3. Pour the milk into a coffee mug carefully, using a spoon to hold the froth back, then spoon the froth on top.

Pumpkin and Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies
Calories: 74
Fat: 1.4 grams
Carbs: 16.6 grams
Protein: 1.4 grams
Ingredients:
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup white sugar
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
cooking spray
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a cookie sheet with cooking spray.
2. Cream the sugar, applesauce, pumpkin and vanilla extract together. Set aside.
3. In another bowl, mix flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice. Once mixed, add the dry ingredients into the wet and mix to combine.
4. Drop cookies using a spoon onto the prepared sheet and bake for 15 – 18 minutes, or until browned.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
Yield: 2 smoothies
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 frozen banana
2 Medjool dates, pitted
2 1/2 cups coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch allspice
Pinch nutmeg
Pinch cloves
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon hemp seeds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender, and blend on high until fully combined. Sprinkle a dash of cinnamon on top to serve.

Paleo Pecan Pie with Chocolate Crust
Yield: One 8- to 9-inch pie
Active Time:
Chocolate Crust
2 cups almond flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons ghee
1 egg
6 tablespoons coconut sugar
2 tablespoons raw cacao powder
1 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup date paste
Scant 1/2 cup coconut sugar
3 eggs
3 tablespoons ghee
1/2 tablespoon arrowroot starch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line the bottom of a tart, pie, or 8- to 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper.
Make the crust:
In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the crust until it comes together as a dough. Press evenly into bottom and sides of lined pan. Bake in oven 7 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Make the filling:
While crust is baking, whisk together maple syrup, date paste, and coconut sugar in a medium-sized saucepan over low heat. Bring to a boil, stop stirring, and let boil 1 minute. Remove from heat and let cool. Transfer mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
Add in eggs and whisk to combine. Add in ghee, arrowroot starch, and vanilla. Mix. Add in chopped pecans and mix to combine. Pour mixture into crust and place back in oven to bake 30 to 40 additional minutes, or until the pie filling has fully set. Let cool before serving.
Note: If you can’t find store-bought date paste, process pitted dates in a food processor until smooth.

Author: Jana Pye

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