5 Healthy Foods to Incorporate Into Your Diet

5 Healthy Foods to Incorporate Into Your Diet

Change the way you eat — and feel — with these five healthy and delicious foods.


By: Amanda Formaro

Eating healthily — and being truly conscious of what we’re eating — can be difficult. Healthy foods are often labeled as bland, sometimes expensive, and associated with miniscule proportions and lingering hunger. So, instead of torturing yourself by suddenly depriving your stomach of all your favorite foods, make a decision to begin to eat healthier and stick with it for life.

Here are five simple but healthy foods you can easily incorporate into your diet plan.

Dark Leafy Greens
An excellent source of iron and high in vitamins, dark leafy green vegetables can easily be added throughout your day. Greens such as fresh spinach, kale and Swiss chard contain a vitamin called lutein, which research says keeps our eyes healthy. Dark greens are also loaded with omega-3s, an essential fatty acid the body cannot create itself. Other dark leafy greens to look for include mustard greens, broccoli rabe, bok choy, broccoli and spinach. Iceberg lettuce is at the bottom of the list with almost no nutritional content. Instead, choose darker lettuce such as romaine.

Ideas: Add some chopped fresh spinach leaves to your salad or steam some broccoli in the microwave. Wash, dry and rub fresh kale with a little olive oil then sauté with garlic and broth. If you’re looking to go all out, try a new trend in the raw food movement: replace bread or tortillas with collard greens.

Blueberries
Hailed as a "super fruit,” the blueberry was one of the top antioxidant-rich picks in a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) study. They contain essential antioxidants, are sweet and can be enjoyed raw on their own or baked into your favorite whole grain muffins and quick breads. These little wonders contain plenty of other nutrients as well including beta-carotene, lutein, vitamin C, folate, calcium, magnesium, potassium and fiber.

Ideas: Add frozen blueberries to a breakfast smoothie, mix fresh blueberries into yogurt, oatmeal or breakfast cereal, or add dried blueberries to your favorite granola snack.

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Quinoa
Quinoa has exploded in popularity due to its nutritional value and high protein content. It's a great source of dietary fiber and is high in magnesium and iron. It's also a great source of calcium — perfect for those that are lactose intolerant. Quinoa is also gluten-free, easy to digest and contains essential amino acids.

When cooked, quinoa is light and fluffy and has a mild, nutty flavor. You can prepare it in the same fashion as rice and it makes a great alternative to rice or couscous, too.

Ideas: Mix cooked quinoa (which has been cooled completely) with chopped fresh vegetables for a refreshing salad, or use it as a substitute for dishes calling for white rice as a healthier alternative.

Mushrooms
There are many different varieties of mushrooms available with crimini, white button and Portobello among the most popular. Mushrooms are low in calories and good source of vitamin D and iron. They also contain generous levels of riboflavin (vitamin B2) and niacin (vitamin B3). These B vitamins are vital for turning carbohydrates into fuel, enabling our bodies to produce energy. They also help the body metabolize fats and protein. Their savory taste and heartiness make mushrooms a wonderful substitute for beef as well.

Ideas: Chop mushrooms and add to frittatas, omelets and scrambled eggs for breakfast; toss into fresh salads; sauté with olive oil, onions and garlic for a delicious side dish; or replace a portion of ground meat in a recipe with an equal measurement of diced mushrooms.

Salmon
Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids and low in calories, making it an excellent low-fat source of protein. The American Cancer Society claims omega-3 fatty acids help reduce the risk of heart disease as well.

Ideas: Avoid using too many sauces or marinades — these can add far more calories than you might think. Use fresh herbs and a bit of olive oil and fresh lemon instead. Grill salmon for optimal health impact, but baking and lightly sautéing is wonderful as well.

Amanda is a mother of four, craft designer and recipe developer who also runs several sites, including Crafts by Amanda, Cooking with Amanda and the Secret Recipe Club. Her work has appeared on SheKnows.com and Family.com as well as in Parents, Redbook and Mixing Bowl magazines among others.

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It feels good to know that I am at least providing three of the five things to my family. Quinoa sounds yummy, it may become a staple in our house!

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