I shared in my last blog the ten foods I eat on a daily basis to keep me healthy, my energy level high, and are simple to prepare. You may wonder how many different ways can you eat cottage cheese or cabbage before your mouth rebels. But, honestly, you can eat these ten must foods daily and in a variety of ways and keep your taste buds happy.
My Ten Must Foods Daily, and Gaily!
Plain Greek Low-fat Yogurt, flax seed, and milk. On weekdays I make a smoothie with Greek yogurt, kale, frozen berries, flax seed and low-fat milk. On Saturday I make whole grain pancakes also using Greek yogurt, flax seed and milk. I also use Greek yogurt to make veggie dips mixing half Greek yogurt and half light mayo with a spice mixture, like the ones from Westminster Whimsy in Chelsea Maine. They make a variety of seasoning packets that go wonderfully with fresh veggies or whole grain pretzels or Wasa crackers. You can also substitute Greek yogurt in a variety of recipes:
- 1 cup sour cream with 1 cup low-fat or fat-free plain Greek yogurt
- 1 cup of butter with 1/3 cup mayo and 2/3 cup low-fat or fat-free plain Greek yogurt
- 1 cup oil with 1/3 cup oil and 2/3 cup low-fat or fat-free plain Greek yogurt
- 1 cup heavy cream with 1/2 cup heavy cream and 1/2 cup low-fat or fat-free plain Greek yogurt
- 1 cup milk or cream with 3/4 milk or cream and 1/4 low-fat or fat-free plain Greek yogurt
- 1 cup buttermilk with 1/3 cup milk and 2/3 cup low-fat or fat-free plain Greek yogurt
- 8 oz cream cheese or mascarpone with 4 oz cream cheese or mascarpone and 1/2 cup low-fat or fat-free plain Greek yogurt
- 1 cup ricotta cheese with 1/2 cup ricotta and 1/2 cup low-fat or fat-free plain Greek yogurt
Cottage Cheese. Instead of using Greek yogurt in dips, I sometimes use whipped cottage cheese. If you whip cottage cheese for a few minutes it does become smooth and creamy. It has much more protein than cream cheese. Add chives and you have a perfect spread for a bagel. A favorite summer lunch for me is cottage cheese with some freshly picked tomatoes from my garden.
Cabbage. I love cabbage. I love everything about it – the colors, whether green or red, the cheap cost, and even how long it will stay fresh in my frig. I shred it to put in wraps along with chicken, black beans, cheese and salsa for a complete summer meal. It’s in my Asian slaw recipe that my sister turned me on to and also includes one of my other ten must foods, peanut butter. I put cabbage in my soups, in my salad concoctions and even in my delicious bean salad that makes enough for a large party, or to have over several meals during the week. I’ve enjoyed roasting Napa cabbage with a bit of olive oil and salt and will try this wonderful recipe soon.
Wasa crackers and peanut butter. Wasa crackers make a great foundation. By themselves, many would say taste like cardboard, but top them with anything and they become the perfect vehicle and crunch for any topper. One of my favorite toppers is cottage cheese, with a few onion slices and minced Kalamata olives. A couple of these with a piece of fruit and I’m full until my next meal. Lately, I’m hooked on eating them sandwiched over some crunchy Teddy peanut butter. Keep a bag of them along with a jar of Teddy peanut butter and you have the perfect snack. I love Teddy – it’s just roasted peanuts and salt, no hydrogenated oils added to line my arteries with transfat. I also love to top my Wasa’s with bean soup or chili; Wasa crackers can stand up to anything you put on it and still maintain the crunch.
Olive oil. There is some research that indicates several manufacturers have been caught substituting other oils for extra virgin olive oil. Their recommendation was to get your olive oil from California or Greece. I use my extra virgin olive oil to toss my veggies in before roasting, in some cake recipes and my salad dressing. Of course one of the tastiest ways to enjoy olive oil is with some freshly baked bread. Skip the butter, who needs that if you find some really nice buttery olive oil. The link above also lists recommended brands. Trader Joe’s California Estate scored well on a taste test.
Apple Cider Vinegar. I love Balsamic vinegar but recently learned how only apple cider vinegar has an alkali pH – so it’s the only vinegar that can lower post meal blood sugars by interfering with the digestion of starches. Over 9% or 29 million people in the US with diabetes, lowering post meal blood sugars could reduce some of the damage done to the arteries and reduce the workload on the pancreas if consumed regularly. This doesn’t mean one can eat a whole pizza and follow up with a swig of apple cider vinegar to reduce the damage. But it does mean that in addition to eating carbs mindfully, regular consumption of apple cider vinegar could lower blood sugars and A1c. There is also some evidence that apple cider vinegar’s anti-glycemic effect could even help with weight loss. Many sources recommend buying organic unfiltered apple cider vinegar and mixing 2 tbsp with 1 tsp of honey and water. You can also mix this with olive oil and some of the Westminster Whimsy spice packets for a nice salad dressing.
Barley. Barley is my rice substitute. I add it to soups. I use it in my seafood paella. I have even substituted it for hot oatmeal. Add a little low-fat milk, brown sugar, cinnamon, chopped walnuts and a raisins, and you have a perfect winter hot cereal full of fiber and protein. You can follow the recipe mentioned here to slow cook it overnight. It is slowly digested and will keep you fuller longer than most other grains, while also being one of the best foods to lower your bad cholesterol.
What You Might Notice After Eating These Ten Must Foods
What might you notice after a month of eating these ten foods? Consumed regularly you will be giving your body good sources of low fat protein, plenty of fiber that will not only slow down digestion, keeping you fuller longer, but lower bad cholesterol as well. You will also get fiber that will feed your good gut microbes that boost your immune system. You will get anti-inflammatory agents that may reduce pain, arterial inflammation and perhaps even boost your mood. You will be protecting your bones, keeping them strong for the future if you get at least 2-3 servings of dairy daily like low-fat milk, cottage cheese and Greek yogurt. You could even lower your blood pressure by getting enough calcium from the above sources and the potassium from veggies like cabbage. The antioxidants in the flax seed and cabbage will help your body fight against cancer.
It’s amazing how these ten foods will help protect your heart and arteries, fight against disease and cancer, help with weight loss and diabetes and even help auto-immune inflammatory conditions. Isn’t that wonderful payback. To feel better, improve health and possibly lose weight. Try these ten foods on a daily basis for one month and see what you might notice. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.