If kale is already a standard entry on your grocery list and quinoa is a part of your regular dinner rotation, you’re probably aware of super foods. But nutritionists say it’s key to mix it up and eat a variety of these go-to ingredients. An easy fix is to swap in new finds for those you already love. The best part? If you don’t feel like cooking these nutritional heroes, you can find them at nearby restaurants.
If You like Quinoa…Try Amaranth
Amaranth, an ancient grain, is similar in flavor to its super-food sister quinoa, but it’s actually a gluten-free seed. It’s high in protein, fiber and iron, so it will keep you full for hours. Best of all? You can pop it like popcorn. “It also makes a great side dish when mixed with other grains or as a gluten-free breading for chicken or fish,” recommends Jacqui Justice, MS, CNS, nutritional director at the NY Health & Wellness Center in Harrison, NY.
Get It To Go: Green salad with marinated kale, collard greens and ancient grains at The Stand, Westport, Norwalk and Fairfield, CT, thestandjuice.com
If You Like Oatmeal…Try Chia Seeds
Sprinkle chia seeds into yogurt, smoothies and oats, or combine with milk and maple syrup for a healthy pudding. They have no flavor—just a crunchy texture when dry and a tapioca-like one when soaked. “They’re a good source of nutrients important for bone health, like calcium, phosphorus and magnesium,” says New York City-based nutritionist Jessica Fishman Levinson, MS, RD, CDN. “They’re also an excellent source of fiber. Research even shows chia seeds have beneficial effects on type 2 diabetes and heart health.”
Get It To Go: Raspberry lemon, chocolate and banana coconut chia pudding at Green & Tonic, Cos Cob, Greenwich, Darien and New Canaan, CT, greenandtonic.com
If You Like Kale…Try Dandelion Greens
These bitter greens are part of the sunflower family and make a great five-minute side dish—just sauté with olive oil and garlic. “They’re rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants and because they act as a diuretic, they’re very beneficial for liver, gallbladder and kidney health,” says Justice. “Due to their high antioxidant content, they also help boost immune health and have anti-cancer benefits.”
Get It To Go: Horta (steamed dandelion greens with lemon and olive oil) at Eos, Stamford, CT, eosgreekcuisine.com
If You Like Brown Rice…Try Black Rice
Black rice (or “forbidden” rice) is a delicious option that’s loaded with antioxidants due to its darker shade. With a richer, nuttier flavor than brown rice, its texture is similar to white. “Black rice is anti-inflammatory,” explains Justice. “It decreases the risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer.”
Get It To Go: Seared ahi tuna steak with black forbidden rice at Tavern on Main, Westport, CT, tavernonmain.com
If You Like Chickpeas…Try Other Pulses
What healthy eater doesn’t love hummus? “Pulses like chickpeas are nutrient powerhouses,” says Levinson. “Because they’re packed with protein, fiber, numerous vitamins and minerals including folate, potassium and iron, they’ve been shown to improve blood sugar control and reduce cholesterol and blood pressure.” For variety, try swapping chickpeas for cooked black beans or lentils in your favorite dips, soups and even baked goods (they can actually replace oil and butter).
Get It To Go: French green lentil salad with mesclun from Méli-Mélo, Greenwich, CT, melimelogreenwich.com