Healthy eating isn't about restricting yourself, trying all the fad diets, or following a model or celebrities meal plan—it’s about finding what works for your body and eating whole, fresh ingredients that boost your overall well being. With so much information in the food industry, social media, and the news, it can quickly become overwhelming when trying to decide what to eat and what not to eat. Healthy eating isn't about restricting yourself, trying all the fad diets, or following a model or celebrities meal plan—it’s about finding what works for your body and eating whole, fresh ingredients that boost your overall well being. To have something be fruitful is to be of “plant, land or tree.” By eating fresh, whole foods from the earth, you are loading your body with rich nutrients that can be digested more easily than the processed foods detrimental to not only your physical health but your mental health. This sparks a conversation on foods’ impact on your body, and the colorful array of fruitful ingredients to add to your daily diet. Here are the foods you should incorporate into your diet and how: Turmeric This spice is commonly used in Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines and has taken over the culinary world with its flavor and health benefits. It is famed for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It's also known to help conditions such as depression, premenstrual syndrome, diabetes, and if you had a little too much to drink the night before, even a hangover. Add it to your favorite marinade or rub, sprinkle it in your smoothie or coffee for an extra boost of antioxidants, or mix it in with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, fresh herbs, (and never forget the essentials: salt and pepper) for a bright and flavorful salad dressing. Manuka Honey This is not just any honey! In fact, “this miracle food” is sworn by celebrities—Kourtney Kardashian has praised its health and skincare benefits. Manuka honey comes from the manuka plant that grows predominantly in New Zealand and Australia. It is packed with antibacterial properties that boost the immune system with vitamins, including calcium, iron, and zinc. The darker and thicker color, the healthier the manuka honey is than regular raw honey. This ingredient has a multitude of benefits: it can improve your sleep, help with acne, and promote digestive health. You can use Manuka Honey in any recipe that calls for raw honey. To make dessert healthier, add Manuka honey to banana bread, cookies, and cakes. If you are feeling fancy, create a simple honey glaze with butter and brown sugar to pour over chicken, carrots, salmon, or your favorite nuts to create a silky and sweet depth of flavor. Parsley Parsley is one of the world’s most popular herbs and is widely used in European, Middle Eastern, and American cooking. It is a highly versatile herb that adds freshness and an unmistakable light, peppery flavor. Remember growing up and hearing your parents say, “eat your greens”? Well, here’s why: this mighty, leafy green contains Vitamin K, Vitamin C, and Vitamin A, and flavonoids—naturally occurring plant compounds that counter disease-causing agents in the body. Parsley is very easy to incorporate into your diet and will add so much flavor to your meals. It goes especially well with potatoes, tomatoes, poultry dishes, seafood, grain-based salads, soups, and eggs. For a refreshing, healthy sauce, create a simple chimichurri with parsley, cilantro, oregano, lemon juice, garlic, red onion, red pepper flakes, salt, and olive oil to pourover steak, chicken, or salmon. Dark Chocolate Yes, chocolate. I know… just hear me out! Dark Chocolate is loaded with nutrients that can be very beneficial to your health (in moderation). The best dark chocolate is between 60% to 90% dark cocoa is and is rich in fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, and other minerals. That little square of chocolatey goodness can help reduce heart disease by reducing cholesterol. So when you grab that box of chocolates after an Elle Woods-style breakup, you can feel good about healing your broken heart with heart-healthy chocolate. Studies even show that dark chocolate can improve brain functioning by increasing blood flow. Just remember, the darker the chocolate, the less sugar it will contain, and the healthier it is. What can you do with chocolate? The possibilities are endless! To increase the health benefits of it with a healthier recipe instead of canceling it out with refined sugar, bake a delicious zucchini bread with dark cocoa powder. I promise you won’t even taste the zucchini. If you want to turn a classic into a healthy treat, create simple chocolate chip cookies with oats, peanut butter, almond or whole wheat flour, honey or maple syrup, and of course, chocolate. If you aren’t in the mood to cook or just want something quick to satisfy that sweet tooth, keep a bar of dark chocolate in the fridge or freezer and eat a couple of squares at night after dinner. Fermented Foods ( Kimchi, Miso, Tempeh) Fermentation is the chemical breakdown of a substance by bacteria, yeast, or other microorganisms involving effervescence. This is a method having the property to form bubbles due to the escape of gas and may form by a chemical reaction, as in fermenting liquid. Fermented foods are rich in probiotic bacteria which add beneficial bacteria and enzymes to the intestines that can increase the health of the gut and digestive system. They also ward off damaging inflammation in the body that can lead to obesity. According to Kristin Kirkpatrick, dietitian, and leader in nutrition at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, people who eat a single serving a day of any fermented food tend to have healthier gut bacteria. One of these gut-friendly fermented foods is the delicious Miso. It is a traditional Japanese seasoning that can be added to pesto on ramen noodles, or to a marinade short rib and glazed over vegetables to create that amazing umami flavor. Kimchi originated in Korea, is made from vegetables, garlic, ginger, and salt, creating a blend of sweet, sour, and spicy. It is great on its own, or can be added over rice, turned into a stew, or used as a pasta sauce. Food impacts every function of our body and mind. It connects us to what matters most, our family, friends, community, cultures, the earth, and to ourselves. One of the most important things that we can do is to take the time to take care of our health, our mind, and our bodies. It’s important to cook your own meals with fresh and whole ingredients that can increase your overall well-being and live a fruitful life.
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