Even the most inventive cooks sometimes find themselves in a food rut, eating the same few tried-and-true foods time and again. Here’s a list of five late summer “superfoods” that you may have never tried, but should definitely check out. We’ve also included a few recipes from ACE’s recipe library to give you a few ideas to get started.
– You may have seen kumquats at your local Farmer’s market or grocery store, but not been quite sure what to do with them. Leave the skin on or peel it? (Leave it.) Love the tart taste or hate it? (At least the skin is sweet.) The kumquat offers a nutrient-packed, low-calorie citrus delight. High in limonoids, potential cholesterol-lowerers and anti-carcinogens found citrus fruits, fiber (get a whopping 9 grams out of the recommended daily 25-35g of fiber from just a handful of the fruit), and a mix of other nutrients, kumquats are great way to get your 5-9 of fruits and vegetables per day. Check out the kumquat tagine
dinner for an alternative to the same-old. The nagami kumquat, the most common type of kumquat, will go out of season at the end of the summer, so this is your last chance to get them this year. Pick firm, but not soft fruit with the green leaves still on, if possible.
– They may be poisonous-looking, but instead of killing you, they can give your health a boost. Red currants have four times more vitamin C than oranges and they’re also a decent source of fiber, iron, and even contain a bit of protein. Combine that with zero fat, zero cholesterol, and only 30 calories in a 2oz serving, and you can’t go wrong. But be warned, these berries are tart. You can prep them as you would cranberries by making a currant jelly (just boil in water and sugar), or be brave and try them fresh from the shrub. Liven up your grilled chicken breast with some red currant balsamic-glazed chicken breasts
.The best red currants are firm and brightly colored.
– Maybe you’ve tried them fried during a jaunt in the Deep South, but these vegetables even taste great (and pack a nutritional punch) in their natural form without all the fixin’s. High in soluble fiber to lower cholesterol and insoluble fiber to decrease risk of colon cancer, okra also is a good source of folate (especially important for women of child-bearing age) and vitamin C among other nutrients. Okra pairs well with tomatoes such as in this stewed okra and tomatoes
recipe. The tastiest okra are brightly colored and firm.
– If you’re like most Americans, your first introduction to arugula may have come after now-President Obama’s off-hand comment on the campaign trail – “Anybody gone into Whole Foods lately and see what they charge for arugula?” Maybe he’s not so out of touch – after all, arugula is available in most all grocery stores and the price really isn’t so bad. Plus, like its other green leafy counterparts, arugula is high in folate as well as vitamins A and K, zinc, potassium, calcium, and iron. Arugula’s peppery taste can spice up your salad or main course, such as in this pasta delight -- fusilli with Italian sausage and arugula
– Lentils count as a super-food all year round. These beans are a key food in any vegetarian diet given their high levels of protein and iron. But meat-eaters should give them a taste as well. Not only do they pack a nutritional punch but they also taste great. Don’t take our word for it. See for yourself with this lemony lentil salad with salmon
By Natalie Digate Muth
Natalie Digate Muth, MD, MPH, RDNatalie Digate Muth, MD, MPH, RD is the Senior Nutrition Consultant for the American Council on Exercise, a community pediatrician, registered dietitian, mom, and author of “’Eat Your Vegetables!’ and Other Mistakes Parents Make: Redefining How to Raise Healthy Eaters.”