Last week we shared information from a recent study that highlighted the importance of protective foods in our diets. This group of foods has a high content of protein, vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, probiotics, anti-inflammatory properties, and other nutrients that help your body work at its most efficient and prevent disease and infections. Foods alone cannot do all the work- the immune system relies on several variables to work at its best- high quality foods, hydration, sleep, lifestyle (e.g. how much you drink alcohol, whether you smoke), physical activity, stress levels, and more.
While not a cure-all, there is an abundance of information that shares high-quality foods, often referred to as “protective foods”, can:
- Protect against certain types of cancer
- Reduce pain levels
- Help support digestion
- Assist with better sleep
- Promote better brain health
- Fight against heart disease
- Help maintain a healthy weight
- Ward off type 2 diabetes
- and much more
Today, we’ll share a variety of recipes that include protective foods, all of which support your health. Some of these foods are:
Turmeric chicken soup
This is a perfect recipe for the upcoming cooler weather. It has chicken, carrots, parsnips, kale, bone broth, providing protein, vitamins, minerals, the broth supports your hydration levels, and turmeric is a known anti-inflammatory agent which helps reduce pain levels. Soups are also an ideal choice for meals as the broths help you feel fuller, helping prevent overeating which can lead to indigestion, weight gain, a disruption in hunger regulation, and may even lead to cognitive decline.
Sheet pan chili lime salmon
Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, a healthy fat. Not all fats are the same, and choosing healthy options can be the difference between supporting your heart health by lowering cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, and decreasing inflammation (among other benefits like improving brain health, decreasing pain, and more), or increasing all those levels and increasing the risk of developing CVDs. Choosing wisely has serious benefits, and you’ll still get plenty of good flavor.
In previous posts, we have outlined that the newest studies share that even minimal drinking may lead to increased blood pressure. Moderate or heavy drinking carries more risks including memory problems, cardiovascular issues, cancer, type-2 diabetes, stroke, cirrhosis of the liver, and more.
A kvass is a bubbly, fermented drink that is traditionally made with beets, but can be made with any vegetable that ferments well. This recipe contains rosemary, sage, and thyme, making for a refreshing, aromatic drink that is incredibly easy to make and have on hand at any time of the year. For other great ideas on how to ferment your vegetables, you can also read Fermented Vegetables, a book that shares many wonderful ideas on how to incorporate fermented vegetables into your diet.
Roasted chickpea arugula salad
Arugula. Almonds. Chickpeas. Parmesan. This is what food dreams are made of! The most difficult (and yet still super simple!) part of this salad is roasting the chickpeas. But it’s worth the effort, as the legume can support your bone health, help improve your digestion, benefits your heart health, and more. You can swap out any other nut in place of the almonds, but they pair beautifully with the parmesan and arugula. With a bit of citrus and honey in the dressing, this comes together beautifully and will be a recipe you make time and time again.
Zoodles are noodles made from zucchini. They’re delicious and since they are low-carb, they help you skip the spike in blood sugar that can result from eating pasta made with refined flour. Zoodles contain a variety of vitamins, antioxidants, as well as fiber. The fiber found in zucchini may also help increase insulin sensitivity, which can help stabilize blood sugar. Make these ahead of time and save portions for lunch at work or dinner when in a time crunch.
Mini carrot zucchini cupcakes
Zucchini contains the water-soluble fiber pectin. Pectin may lower bad cholesterol and lipid levels in a person’s blood, promoting good heart health. And, zucchini is also high in potassium, which can help manage high blood pressure. Zucchini is also high in antioxidants and helps digestive health. Carrots contain carotenoids, that have been linked to reduced risk of heart disease as well as improved immune function. Another bonus about this recipe is the mini muffin size- portions are just as important as ingredients, and making smaller bites can help keep you on track.
Apple raisin overnight oats
Many studies show that oats and oatmeal benefit health by helping lower blood sugar levels, promote weight loss, and reduce the risk of heart disease. This recipe includes pecans, raisins, and apples. Pecans provide many benefits, including being a source of calcium, magnesium, and potassium, which can help lower blood sugar. Pecans also contain a healthy dietary fat, monounsaturated fat, which can help lower levels of LDL cholesterol. The great news is that nuts provide all these benefits and studies support that if you watch the portion size, nuts don’t result in weight gain as is often thought because of their energy density. Raisins are loaded with antioxidants, and have also been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease by reducing blood pressure and blood sugar. But, they are relatively high in calories, so don’t go overboard.
Lemon cream pie chia pudding
Quinoa is an often-overlooked superfood; loaded with fiber, vitamins, and minerals, it also works against inflammation and is full of antioxidants. The pudding is made with cashews and oat milk, making that layer a healthier alternative to ice cream. Like most nuts, cashews may also help improve your overall health. They’ve been linked to benefits like weight loss, improved blood sugar control, and a healthier heart.
Crustless cottage cheese quiche with spinach
Dairy, specifically whole fat dairy, can protect against heart disease. Cottage cheese is onsidered a fresh cheese and doesn’t undergo an aging or ripening process. Cottage cheese is made from the curds of various levels of pasteurized cow’s milk, including nonfat, reduced fat, or regular milk. It’s high in protein, which accounts for over 70% of the calories in cottage cheese. Keep it on-hand since it is easy to incorporate into any meal of the day. Add fruit for breakfast, dip veggies into it with lunch, and as a salad topper for dinner.
We all know eating unprocessed, nutritious meals can improve our overall health. As these recipes show, it doesn’t have to be a chore. Delicious, easy to prepare foods can be a great way to add the necessary ingredients we all need to make that happen.