Most supermarkets stock more than 30,000 items, yet every time we race up and down the aisles of the grocery store, we toss into our carts the same 10 to 15 foods. Which isn’t such a bad thing, as long as you’re taking home the right foods—ones that will keep you healthy, fuel peak performance, and easily cook up into lots of delicious meals. So before your next trip to the grocery store, add the following 15 foods to your must-buy list.
Add to your cart: Canned Black Beans
One cup of these beauties provides 30 percent of the DV for protein, almost 60 percent of the DV for fiber (much of it as the cholesterol-lowering soluble type), and 60 percent of the DV for folate, a B vitamin that plays a key role in heart health and circulation. Black beans also contain antioxidants, and researchers theorize that this fiber-folate-antioxidant trio is why a daily serving of beans appears to lower cholesterol levels and heart-disease risk. In addition, black beans and other legumes are low glycemic index (GI) foods, meaning the carbohydrate in them is released slowly into the body. Low GI foods can help control blood sugar levels and may enhance performance because of their steady release of energy.
Add to your diet: For a quick, hearty soup, open a can of black beans and pour into chicken or vegetable stock along with frozen mixed veggies and your favorite seasonings. Mash beans with salsa for an instant dip for cut veggies, or spread onto a whole-wheat tortilla for a great recovery meal. Add beans to cooked pasta or rice for extra fiber and protein.
Add to your cart: Mixed Salad Greens
Rather than selecting one type of lettuce for your salad, choose mixed greens, which typically offer five or more colorful delicate greens such as radicchio, butter leaf, curly endive, and mache. Each variety offers a unique blend of phytonutrients that research suggests may fend off age-related diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. These phytonutrients also act as antioxidants, warding off muscle damage brought on by tough workouts. You can usually buy mixed greens in bulk or prewashed in bags.
Add to your diet: Toss a mixed greens salad with tomato, cucumber, scallions, and an olive oil-based dressing (the fat from the oil helps your body absorb the phytonutrients). You can also stuff mixed greens in your sandwiches, wraps, and tacos. Or place them in a heated skillet, toss lightly until wilted, and use as a bed for grilled salmon, chicken, or lean meat. Greens store best in a salad spinner or the crisper drawer in your fridge for up to six days. Just don’t drench them in water or they won’t keep as long.
Add to you cart: Salmon
Nutrition-wise, salmon is the king of fish. Besides being an excellent source of high-quality protein (you get about 30 grams in a four-ounce serving), salmon is one of the best food sources of omega-3 fats. These essential fats help balance the body’s inflammation response, a bodily function that when disturbed appears to be linked to many diseases including asthma. A recent study showed that people with exercise-induced asthma saw an improvement in symptoms after three weeks of eating more fish oil. If you’ve been limiting seafood due to possible mercury or PCB contamination, simply aim for a variety of farm-raised and wild salmon for maximum health benefits.
Add to your diet: Bake, grill, or poach salmon with fresh herbs and citrus zest. Gauge cooking time by allotting 10 minutes for every inch of fish (steaks or fillets). Salmon should flake when done. Precooked (leftover) or canned salmon is great in salads, tossed into pasta, stirred into soups, or on top of pizza. Fresh fish keeps one to two days in the fridge, or you can freeze it in a tightly sealed container for about four to five months.
Add to your cart: Whole-Grain Bread
Runners need at least three to six one-ounce servings of whole grains per day, and eating 100 percent whole-grain bread (as opposed to just whole-grain bread, which may contain some refined grains and flours) is an easy way to meet this requirement since one slice equals one serving. Whole-grain bread may also help weight-conscious runners. One study showed that women who eat whole-grain bread weigh less than those who eat refined white bread and other grains. Whole-grain eaters also have a 38 percent lower risk of suffering from metabolic syndrome, which is characterized by belly fat, low levels of the good cholesterol, and high blood sugar levels. All this raises the risk for heart disease and cancer.
Add to your diet: Bread is versatile, portable, and ready to eat right out of the wrapper. Spread with peanut butter or stuff with your favorite sandwich fillings and plenty of sliced veggies for a one-handed recovery meal. Coat with a beaten egg for French toast, or use as layers or crumbled in a casserole. Just be sure the label says 100 percent whole grain (all the grains and flours included in the ingredients should be listed as whole, not milled or refined). And don’t just stick with the popular 100 percent whole-wheat breads. Try different varieties of whole grains such as barley, buckwheat, bulgur, rye, or oat.
Add to your cart: Frozen Stir-fry Vegetables
Research shows that eating a combination of antioxidants, such as beta-carotene and vitamin C, may lessen muscle soreness after hard interval workouts by reducing the inflammation caused by free-radical damage. Most ready-to-use stir-fry veggie combos offer a potent mix of antioxidants by including red and yellow peppers, onions, bok choy, and soy beans. And frozen vegetable mixes save lots of prepping time but still provide the same nutrition as their fresh counterparts.
Add to your diet: Dump the frozen vegetables right into a hot wok or skillet, add tofu, seafood, or meat, your favorite stir-fry sauce, and serve over brown rice. Or throw them into pasta water during the last few minutes of cooking, drain, and toss with a touch of olive oil. You can also mix the frozen veggies right into soups or stews at the end of cooking, or thaw them and add to casseroles. Vegetables store well in the freezer for about four months, so make sure to date your bags.
Serve this entre over a bed of warmed black beans and wilted greens for a meal loaded with injury-healing nutrients plus more than 50 percent of your omega-3 fat needs for the day.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 four-ounce salmon fillets or steaks
- 1 1/2 cups chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
Thirty minutes before cooking, combine parsley, orange and lemon zest, and garlic. Use as a rub and top salmon fillets, then turn and spread evenly on reverse side. Chill until ready to bake or grill on medium-high heat (450 degrees) for 10 minutes for every inch of thickness. When done the fish should flake with a fork.
CALORIES: 276 PROTEIN: 30 g CARBS: 2 g FAT: 16 g
When I look for “healthy” tumblr. posts it always makes me sad and nervous. Just some pointers fellow bloggers:
- fried food - not healthy
- diet soda - not healthy
- salad covered with cheese and ranch dressing - not healthy
- fruit drenched in chocolate and caramel - not healthy
Just because you made something at home instead of ordering take out does not mean it’s healthy. I see the craziest posts ex: “Look at my healthy breakfast!” - picture of bacon, hashbrowns, eggs and pancakes. I stare puzzled. Are they being sarcastic? Another example: “Glad I’m on this health kick, it’s still yummy!” - pic of fried chicken, mashed potatoes w/ gravy, salad w/ ranch and diet coke.
Now I know changing your lifestyle is difficult. The changes do need to be slow to you can keep them. But seriously, what did they eat before if is the “healthy kick”?
As the director of sports nutrition for Penn State University’s athletic
department, Kristine Clark, Ph.D., suggests her sweet-potato slices as
the perfect postrun snack. They also make a great appetizer dipped in
salsa, wasabi sauce, or low-fat dressing. One serving will
give you 90 percent of the DV for vitamin A.
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, sliced into 1/8” rounds
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a medium bowl, toss sweet-potato
slices with olive oil, garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Spread
in a single layer on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Bake (turning every 10 minutes)
for 30 to 40 minutes until brown and the edges curl. Cool slightly
and sprinkle with sesame seeds and parsley.
CALORIES: 136 PROTEIN: 1 g CARBS: 17 g FAT: 7 g