Healthy Eating and Fitness Tips, New Year’s recipes and Resolution posts all over the blog world at the moment; more so last week, so I’m running a bit behind!
I did do a post just before the New Year which covers my New Year’s promises/commitments to myself that I’ve made as opposed to resolutions; the word it self to me at least just reeks of negativity associated with the years of people having given up on them before they even see out January!
Rather than putting together healthy living or fitness tips I decided I’d combine a little bit of nutrition, it’s been a while since my last nutrition post, and give you my top ten power foods (including spices and items considered purely ingredients!) to aim to incorporate in to your diet, not just for the New Year but all year round; though now is as good a time as any to start!
What has become apparent to me from having begun my case study consultations with clients is that a large number of people eat a very monotonous not particularly varied, some quite restricted, diets. As I’ve mentioned previously, having gone vegan I now have more variety in my diet than ever before which is contrary to what people generally assume considering I’ve omitted all animal foods.
The following five ten foods are now all staples in my diet and rather than having to depend on a whole host of supplements, although I have incorporated a few of late which I’ll cover in another post, give my vegan diet the nutritional boost it requires and makes it altogether complete!
- Spirulina – It’s quite a new ingredient for me, one which I picked up from Ireland’s Raw Kitchen not long before Christmas just passed. Packed full of protein, B Vitamins, Vitamins A, C, D and E as well as potassium, iron, calcium, zinc, manganese and chromium but to name a few, it contains all essential amino acids making it a great addition to the plant based vegan diet. In actual fact is made up of about 60% complete protein. I’ve started adding it to my smoothies and have plans to incorporate it in to some raw bars and pancakes over the coming weeks so I’ll keep you posted!
- Cinnamon – I’m a huge cinnamon fan, always have been. It seems to be one of the spices that people either love or hate. It’s been shown to help lower cholesterol, just 1 tsp a day, as well as having significant antioxidant properties. Just one 1/3 of a tsp contains 1/3 of your ideal antioxidant rich food intake per day. It’s also well known for it’s ability to regulate blood sugar, helping to reduce sugar cravings at the same time due it’s sweet nature. I use it in baking, sprinkle it over yoghurt or fruit, incorporate in to my pancake mix and instant bakes, add it to chilli’s, smoothies and even simply stir it through rice!
- Chia Seeds – I knew once I got my hands on them there would be no going back! They’re packed full of Omega 3, protein, fibre and contain antioxidants which help protect it’s essential fats from oxidation. Minerals including Calcium, Iron, Magnesium as well as Vitamin B can also be found in Chia seeds. I love adding them to overnight oats, making Chia Puddings, jams and I’m particularly fond of them as natural sprinkle on top of pancakes, French Toast, yoghurt, fruit and even salads. Such versatile little gems!
- Bee Pollen – It’s consider the most complete food known to man! It’s the richest source of vitamins found in Nature in a single food. It’s richer in proteins than any animal source containing more amino acids than beef, eggs or cheese of equal weight. It’s fantastic again as a natural sprinkler as are the chia seeds, particularly on top of smoothies or blended in for some natural sweetness. I take a tablespoonful a day either straight from the spoon or on top of my breakfast or snack of choice! It’s also been shown and used for many years by athletes to aid recovery. Once I incorporated it in to my diet I stopped taking my pre/post work muscle recovery supplement and haven’t look back since! It’s particularly delicious on top of this whipped oat combo!
- Nutritional Yeast – Also known as “nooch” it’s a nutritional powerhouse as well as being a staple ingredient in my vegan cheese sauces – lasagna just wouldn’t be the same without it! Nutritional Yeast is very rich in B vitamins, including B12, as well as being great source of 18 amino acids, protein, folic acid, biotin and other vitamins. It is also rich in 15 minerals including iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and chromium, and selenium.
- Tahini – Tahini contains all the essential amino acids, making it a high quality protein, plus it is rich in calcium, lecithin and B vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5 and B15. It was just over a year ago now I was introduced to the wonders of this sesame seed paste which I now consider a staple ingredient when it comes to hummus, vegan dressings and sauces. Make sure to choose non hulled as opposed to hulled which not as nutritionally rich.
- Tempeh – My first couple of experiences with tempeh were a little disappointing. I wasn’t exactly taken by it…that was until my recent orange glazed tempeh, after which the love affair began; it’s still going incredibly strong! Made from whole fermented soya beans, tempeh is high in protein, essential fatty acids as well as numerous vitamins and minerals; particularly Vitamin B2, magnesium, manganese and copper. It’s far easier to digest than tofu and much easier to cook with; it promotes digestive health feeding the good bacteria, as well as stabilising blood sugar levels.
- Carob powder – Not only does it taste amazing (again perhaps another love it or hate it food), it’s a nutritionally rich food source that makes for a delicious carob sauce for drowning your pancakes in! It’s been shown to improve digestion, act as antioxidant, helps ease asthma symptoms, as well as being rich in phosphorous and calcium. It’s also thought to help prevent lung cancer as well as having anti viral and anti bacterial properties as a result of the gallic acid it contains helping to keep your immune system in tip top condition!
- Sunwarrior Raw Protein – When I feel like I’m lacking in the protein department, know I’m going to be travelling or perhaps won’t have time to prepare a complete meal a scoop of Sunwarrior added to a smoothie, instant bake or even pancakes works a treat leaving me fuller for a hell of a lot longer. I also make sure to have a scoop when I’ve had a particularly intense workout or feel like my muscles could do with a little extra loving!
- Pumpkin and Sunflower Seeds – and they’re butters! Sesame, Pumpkin and Sunflower seeds are a trio of goodness. They all pack a powerful health punch, full of amino acids, as well as Vitamins A, B, C and E, as well as minerals calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, selenium and manganese, they are a great addition to any diet that may be lacking in the vitamin and mineral department. Pumpkin seeds are also a relatively good source of Omega 3 fatty acids. Both make for amazing salad or porridge toppers, delicious toasted served a top your favourite pasta dish, as well as making two of my all time favourite nut butters; namely SunButter! I simply couldn’t live without the stuff, it would most definitely be my desert island food item of choice! It’s by far my favourite French Toast and pancake topping.
You may not want to incorporate every single one of my suggestions but why not give one or two a go?
Is there any of the items above that you already consider a staple in your diet?
Do you have any other “power” foods that you eat on a regular basis?