When you think about modifying your diet to improve your health, you usually think about adding healthier foods, like fruits and vegetables, and cutting out the bad stuff (junk food, sugary drinks). While this is a good idea, there are other foods they you may not have heard of which can make your diet more wholesome. Here are just a few of these nutritious foods that can benefit your health and the planet.
They’re called peels for a reason, right? Despite your long held belief that banana peels belong in the trash (or on the floor for a comedic slip), they are edible and pack lots of nutrients. The peels are high in fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B-6, potassium, and magnesium. Try blending the peels into smoothies or frying, baking or broiling them until tender (heat breaks down the fiber making it easier to chew and digest).
Yes, you read that correctly. Crickets and other bugs are a great source of protein. Surprisingly enough, eating bugs can help reduce world hunger. Because they are easy raise, are found nearly everywhere, use less water than pigs and cows, and feed on waste materials, they are much easier on the planet.
Travel the world and you may find markets serving fresh jackfruit. They usually slice then in half, remove the fleshy bulbs from the interior, and sell them by the pound. When consumed raw and ripe, they taste akin to a cross between mango and pineapple.
Young jackfruit, however, can be shredded, seasoned, cooked and served as a meat alternative. Some may say the texture is reminiscent of pulled pork and the flavor is a cross between hearts of palm and kimchi.
It is often touted as a ‘miracle crop’ because many parts of a jackfruit tree can be used and the jackfruit itself is so versatile and nutritious. The flesh is high in calcium, iron and potassium while low in fat. And the edible seeds are good sources of protein.
While it’s not a very commonly known vegetable, kohlrabi is high in fiber, folate, potassium, vitamins C and B6, and was included on the CDC’s list of ‘powerhouse’ foods. The foods on that list pack a lot of key nutrients into each calorie (one cup of kohlrabi contains 37 calories and 5g of fiber) and are linked with a reduced risk of chronic disease. In fact, studies suggest that those who eat kohlrabi tend to be thinner and live longer than those who do not eat the cream-colored vegetable.
Try substituting your kale for chicory. It’s a good source of fiber, vitamins, folate, and zinc, plus it’s low in calories – one cup of raw chicory is just 7 calories.
Commonly found in hot, sunny, moist climates like the Pacific Islands, breadfruit is about the size of a football with prickly, geometrically-patterned skin. When opened, it resembles a large kiwi with whitish-yellow flesh. As far as nutrition goes, they are rich in energy-providing carbohydrates, low in fat, and contain 10 bananas’ worth of potassium.
Because the trees are easy to grow (no seeds, just a root and soil), and they begin bearing fruit in 3-5 years, some have said that breadfruit is “the perfect candidate for tackling world hunger.”
Save the water next time you boil broccoli. Why? Because broccoli leeches its water-soluble vitamins, you’re left with a nutritious batch of broccoli water. Use it for soups, sauces, or even gravy.
Native to the western Pacific Ocean, lionfish have made their way to the Caribbean, Atlantic, and the Gulf of Mexico. Many believe the growing population is due to decades of owners dumping their unwanted lionfish into the oceans. Because they eat anything and everything, they are disrupting the balance of sea life in these areas. One way to control the population is to start eating the lionfish.
Although their dorsal fins are venomous and can be painful to humans if stung, the actual meat of the fish has been described as moist and buttery. Because they often get caught in lobster traps, fishermen in Florida are trying to build a commercial market for them.
Remember that list of ‘powerhouse’ foods from the CDC? Well, at the very top of that list was watercress. Watercress is an easy-to-grow, mineral rich green leafy vegetable. Swap your usually salad base for a handful of watercress.
Which of these foods would you try? Would you consider adding any of these to your regular diet? Share with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You can also find us on Instagram, Vine, and Pinterest.
For a yummy and nutritious meal, visit the Brick Your Neighborhood Deli for a signature sandwich or salad made fresh to order. Visit us weekdays 10:30am-7:30am or Saturdays 10:30am-4:30pm. Want to skip the line? Order online at www.BrickMarketDeli.com!