I’m calling these foods “super” because they deliver outstanding nutritional value, fit effortlessly into my lifestyle, and generally shine. There are a lot of foods in the world so this was a pretty difficult list to narrow down.
- Apples: Sweet, like natures candy! Satisfying – an apple never fails to take the edge off if I am feeling really, really hungry. Portable: easy to throw in a bag, purse, sack or, heck, even a pocket. Lowfat, high in fiber and Vitamin C. This is my pre-workout food of choice.
- Cottage Cheese: The single easiest way to get fast, quick high-quality protein when you need it. It’s low-calorie and lowfat, too (even if you don’t buy the nonfat kind). Very low in Sodium and also a good source of Vitamin B12, Phosphorus and Selenium. Hey, did I say that this is the most convenient way to get a high-protein meal without having to cook a darn thing or eat one of those yucky protein bars?
- Egg whites: Oh! Egg whites! Seriously – these bad boys are just pumping with good, lean protein – about 6g per egg. I buy them ready-to-go in containers (eggology is super-natural, egg-beaters a nice second). Omelets, scrambled eggs with salsa, frittata with vegetables… it goes on and on. Hard or soft-boiled egg-whites are also super convenient for packing in lunches, etc. (Let me also mention that there are tons of vitamins and good stuff in the yolk, but one or two will do it whereas you can eat 10-12 eggs worth of egg whites in a serving.)
- Almonds: Tons of super portable protein, no cholesterol, lots of Vitamin E. While not an ideal lean protein source (you can’t eat them all the time for your protein) they provide essential “good fats”. Magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, folic acid, and calcium. I could go on and on but I don’t need to. Almonds are good for you! Eat them. While we’re on almonds, I am going to lump Almond Butter in so that I don’t have to use one of the ten spots up for it.
- Skinless Chicken Breast: What can I say? Protein, protein, protein. I go out of my way to buy the most natural/organic chicken that I can find then I grill the little buggers on my panini grill (a george foreman does the same thing). Add lemon juice or fresh salsa and serve with a green salad. Yum.
- Leafy Greens: I’m cheating here and lumping a bunch of foods into one category. Leafy greens are absolutely unbeatable. Take broccoli. Damn. There are so many good things to say about broccoli. This site has a HUGE list of benefits and references a bunch of studies that backup the claims. Tons of vitamin C, A and K, lots and lots of fiber and very low calories. Eating leafy greens also aids the digestion process. Broccoli is further rich in Calcuim but, even more important, contains Magnesium and Vitamin C which aids the absorption of Calcium. The other leafy-green-love-of-my-life is Kale. Stop groaning! Let go thy fears of kale! In fact it is delicious, amazing, and delivers astounding nutritional value in a very, very minimal amount of calories. I love the earthy flavor (who cares if Sal calls it dinosaur food!) and all of the phytonutrients aid with detoxification of free radicals and toxins (translation: it could very well be a key component in lowering your risk of cancer, along with other leafy greens, of course).
- Fish: Another food grouping cop-out. What can I say, ten is not very many so I am cutting every corner possible here. Fish. First you have yer fatty fish like mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon which are high in essential omega-3 fatty acids. You can’t get these friendly fats from land-walking protein sources and fish is one mean-ass “whole” protein. Other fish may not have the same Omega-3 content but still serves as a great, powerful source of high quality protein. I most frequently eat sole, tuna, catfish and salmon. I ADORE trout when I can get it. Be sure to be aware of your mercury exposure, particularly if you are pregnant.
- Strawberries: Full of anti-oxidants, phytonutrients, Vitamin C and fiber, strawberries also have a low glycemic index (40) so they won’t spike your blood glucose levels. Besides, they’re cute, red, festive, and delicious. (By the way, if I were really a cheater I might have just called number 8, “Berries”… hint hint)
- Ground Turkey: I have to be honest, I generally hate turkey. I don’t eat it on Thanksgiving and actually make quite a scene about it. That said, ground turkey is the bomb-hizzle. I season it with some nice spices (go crazy! I like to make it hot.) and do meatballs or patties. A well-seasoned turkey-patty on a piece of whole-grain bread with a nice slice of cheese and some salad greens is delightful. Combine wasabi, lemon juice, and fat free mayonnaise for a tasty faux-aioli. Turkey patties only take about 6-7 minutes on the panini grill and they pack well for lunches once cooked.
- Water: Can you believe I blew a whole line-item on water?! Well, believe it. I thought long and hard about including water in my list of top-ten super foods. Ultimately, it made the cut because, without enough water intake, it won’t matter what you eat. Water is essential, aids digestion, makes you feel better, and, oftentimes when you feel hungry, you’re actually thirsty. Enter water, Super Food #10. Also, if you told me you were going to leave me stranded on an island for 3 weeks and I could have an unlimited amount of any food on my food list, I would definitely go with water.
Runners Up: I have recently begun to greatly reduce my intake of carbs so a lot of foods fell off this list because they’re not currently part of my focus. There are others that just barely got nudged and probably could have as easily been included. Notable runners up include: quinoa (a delicious, nutty whole grain), bulgur wheat, sweet potatoes, yams, spaghetti squash, acorn squash, beets, brussel sprouts (if you are still harboring childhood ill-will toward these I urge you to try them again), oats, bran-cereal, skim milk, ak-mak whole-wheat crackers, fresh salsa, plain yogurt (watch the sugar content in your yogurt if you are eating flavored varieties), grape-nuts, bananas, and arugula.
What about you? What are your staples? Questions? Hit me.
And look for these posts over the next few weeks: “The Long Awaited Carb-Cycling Post (subtitled ‘She is a Liar and a Tease’)”, “Supplement 101: Vitamins, Meal-Replacements and Amino-Acids, the Basics”, “Eating Tips for Jet-Setters: How to Eat Well While Traveling”, and “Condiment Conundrum: Does this Ketchup Make me Look Fat?”
If you have questions or topics that you would like to see covered in future fitness posts please leave a comment or shoot me a message.