Summer is a great time to try new things. This is the time when you can get the best produce, the best ingredients, and the healthiest food. And combining foods for maximum nutrition can lead you to come up with wonderful, new dishes.
Combining foods for maximum nutritional value is called by food scientists “food synergy.” That means the combination of two or more items leads to greater nutrition than any of the items individually.
One example is a Roasted Chicken and White Bean Salad. This has high amounts of zinc which helps control your appetite. This salad is not only good and healthy, but it also helps you eat less. Using Cannellini beans will give you lots of valuable iron, more than red meat or spinach. They’re also loaded with protein and fiber. Make your own salad dressing to top chicken, beans, fresh greens, tomato, onion, pepper, and whatever else you like and you’ve got a great meal.
Making your own salad dressing is easy. Even if you add a little sweetness, it’s still going to be healthier than what you buy in a bottle at the store. Just remember it’s three parts oil to one part vinegar. After that, you can add whatever flavors you like, such as garlic, herbs, spices, and fruit juice.
In fact, a great tip is to cut up an orange over a bowl, adding the juice to the dressing and some of the orange slices to your salad. You can do this with almost any sweet citrus fruit. The iron in the orange combines well with baby spinach, making a salad that’s a big step above iceberg or romaine lettuce. I like spinach for a salad because it holds up longer in the refrigerator than regular lettuce.
Want to have a creamy dressing? Try using plain, low-fat yogurt instead of mayonnaise. Experiment. You might be amazed at what you can come up with.
Another tip is to add hazelnuts to your salad. Hazelnuts are rich in folate and Vitamin E, items that help your heart. Nuts add crunch to the salad (in place of croutons) and vital fats. Sunflower seeds are also a great addition.
Garlic not only adds flavor but it’s a great combatant against disease. It’s naturally antibacterial, helps fight cholesterol, and can help prevent cancer. Using strong flavors like this gives a more satisfying eating experience, making over-eating less likely.
Tomatoes, fresh or cooked, add lots of heart-healthy nutrients in addition to flavor. Don’t make pasta salad without them. Combining tomatoes with olive oil increases your body’s ability to absorb the nutrients.
Fresh herbs are great as a topping or in the dressing. Basil, for example, is full of antioxidants, which help fight off heart disease. And don’t stop at just salads. Herbs can go on or in almost any dish.
For dessert, fresh fruit is wonderful. Want to kick it up a notch? Make a sugar-free chocolate sauce to dip or put on top. Take unsweetened cocoa powder with an equal amount of Splenda or other sugar substitute and combine with a little water, working it in and adding a tablespoon or so at a time until you get the consistency you want. I use this on top of ice cream (sugar-free ice cream can be a little gummy) or other meal finishers or snack treats. Chocolate and cocoa contain disease-fighting antioxidants and can help reduce the risk of blood clots. It also lowers blood pressure and increases problem-solving skills. Combine that with fresh fruit’s Vitamin C and you’ve got a super dessert in more than taste.
Now’s a great time to try something new, experiment, and come up with your own dynamite combinations for great taste and better health.