14 Weird Foods You Should Try

Mix things up with these ridiculously nutritious antidotes to culinary boredom

Healthy, tasty, weird

Chicken? Ho-hum. Kale? Aren’t we over that yet? Broccoli… again? If you find yourself falling into a boring food rut meal after meal, we’re here to dig you out. Introducing 14 very weird foods you should put on your menu tonight.

Spaghetti squash

Pasta-holics, meet your dream vegetable: a squash that comes equipped with its own noodles. Slice this baby open after roasting it in the oven at 375 degrees and scrape out its strings with a fork for instant, 100% veggie pasta—minus the refined carbs. It contains 2g of fiber per cup, potassium, and lots of vitamins A and C. Roast the seeds for a snack!

Azuki beans

You might not have heard of this one before, but we’re betting they’ll become a kitchen staple in no time. Azuki beans, aka red beans, are the perfect conveyers for sweetness and the main ingredient in many Chinese treats. (We melt for red bean ice cream.) They’re overflowing with iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. And the folic acid levels are incredible: one cup provides nearly 70% of your daily recommended intake. Use them in everything from vegetarian chili to brownies.

Dandelion greens

Chef Rick Bayless predicted that these would depose kale as the king of greens in 2013, and who are we to argue? Each dandelion green comes crammed with a bunch of calcium, vitamins, and protein. Use these bitter greens in smoothies, stir-fry, or raw crisp salads. They’re the perfect farmers’ market find.

Sea buckthorn

Cue the superfoodies! Sea buckthorn is one of the coolest, weirdest fruits around. The acidic berries are a key component of traditional Chinese medicine and boast high levels of healthy fats, particularly the rare omega-7. Plus, with about 15 times the vitamin C of oranges, lots of vitamin E, and tons of amino acids, they definitely achieve superfood status. Sea buckthorn does double duty as a powerful beautifier, and the oily berries are often featured in skin products.

For a deliciously tart and healthy treat, try sea buckthorn juice. (Makes a great mixer, too! Sea-buckthorn mimosas, anyone?)

Brazil nuts

Walnuts and almonds get all the glory, but this oblong nut is a nutritional powerhouse. They’re crazy high in protein, good fats, and vitamins. And just one nut has all the cancer-fighting selenium you need for a day, making it the richest dietary source of selenium by far. Next time you see a lonely, plucked-over Brazil nut at the bottom of a mix, give it a good home and soak up the benefits.

Teff

Life ain’t tough when you’ve got teff. Seriously, have you ever tried this stuff? When baked into injera, a spongy, slightly sour bread perfect for sopping up Ethiopian dishes, teff is transformed into the most delicious grain on earth. It’s high in fiber, amino acids, protein, calcium, and iron, too. And it’s gluten-free!

Purple potatoes

All potatoes pack vitamin C, potassium, and fiber, but these ravishing taters have four times the antioxidants as their paler potato peers, thanks to the purplifying antioxidant anthocyanin. According to a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, two small helpings of purple potatoes a day decreased blood pressure by about 4% and might protect against heart disease.

Nab ‘em at Asian markets, and prepare them as you would regular potatoes—might we suggest this herb-roasted potato medley? Keep the skin on to get all that purply goodness.

Chia seeds

Forget the Chia Pet, because these seeds were made for eating. Though they’re positively tiny, chia seeds pack an unbelievable amount of nutrition: 11 grams of fiber in a single ounce, plus 4 grams of protein and 18% of your daily calcium. They’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids and alpha-linolenic acid, too.

Sprinkle them in your cereal, smoothies, or homemade cookies. Or take retro inspiration from the Chia Pet, which got one thing right: when you add water to these seeds, something magical happens. It transforms into a gel that’s perfect for making chia pudding!



Kohlrabi

This alien veggie might have a tough exterior, but kohlrabi, which means “cabbage-turnip” in German, is really very lovable. It has lots of potassium, antioxidants, and vitamin C (one cup packs 138% of your daily allotment). And it’s super versatile: peel and eat it raw, toss it in a salad for a crunchy snap, and sauté the tasty greens. If you ask us, simpler is better, so try out this easy recipe for nutmeg-glazed kohlrabi.



Enoki mushrooms

No, you’re not back in the 60’s: these ‘shrooms really are crazy looking. But they’re also crazy healthy! The skinny, finger-like enoki mushroom is high in cancer-crushing antioxidants, protein, and fiber. Buy these delicately-flavored mushrooms dried or fresh, and toss them in grilled chicken salads and Thai coconut soup.

Starfruit

Cut this tropical fruit open and you’ll see why it gets its name. Starfruits are tart, a little bit sour, and juicy beyond belief. They’re also brimming with vitamin C and antioxidants, so juice them with confidence. You can also cook them down into a flavorful sauce that complements Asian flavors. But our favorite recipe? Ripe, unpeeled, eaten over the sink.

Kelp

Venture underwater for your dinner, and you’ll surface with a whole bunch of new nutrients you can’t get on land. Sea vegetables provide an array of unique minerals, like iodine and underwater antioxidants. Kelp, a type of brown algae that’s a lot more delicious than it sounds, is full of iron, folate, and vitamin K. It’s anti-inflammatory and might help lower cholesterol. (Just make sure to buy certified organic sea veggies, since they can absorb arsenic from their watery environs.)

Ah, and the taste! Mossy and a bit salty, it’s exquisitely unique. Enjoy sea veggies in your miso soup, shake kelp flakes on top of your salads, or roll your sushi in paper-thin nori—no cooking required.

Romanesco

Insanely delicious and a geometric wonder? Your plate has never been prettier. Romanesco looks and cooks like cauliflower, with a light broccoli flavor and loads of vitamin C, vitamin K, and—of course—antioxidants. And here’s why it’s the coolest crucifer ever: count the spirals per head, and it’s always a Fibonacci number. All hail the vegetable fractal!

Wheatberries

Popular in Middle Eastern recipes, wheatberries are the original whole grains. The tiny spheres are the entire wheat kernel—bran, germ, and all—and make a chewy dish that you can sub for quinoa or couscous. The nutty grain is especially good with fried onions or swiss chard, and it’s packed with vitamin E and magnesium.

By Mandy Oaklander
www.prevention.com

Chicken Pasta on the Lighter Side

One of the easiest ways to lighten up a pasta dish is to add tons of protein and vegetables to your dish which keeps the portions large and the carbs low and this dish is a perfect example. Be sure to be generous with your Cajun spices, it should have plenty of kick so don’t be shy!

I took a knife skills class at Sur La Table this week with my girlfriend and of course I HAD to buy a new knife and cutting board there. I was so excited to put my new skills to work and cut my veggies like a pro with my new knife, a task I would normally dread.

This dish comes together rather quickly once all your vegetables are chopped.

You can make this with shrimp instead of chicken, or use a combination of both. Make this vegetarian by leaving the chicken out or replacing it with tofu and the chicken broth with vegetable broth. You can also make this gluten-free by using brown rice pasta and replacing the flour with 1 teaspoon of corn starch. Hope you enjoy!!

Cajun Chicken Pasta on the Lighter Side

Servings: 5 • Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups • Old Points: 6 pts • Points+: 8 pts
Calories: 323.8 • Fat: 6.2 g • Protein: 25.9 g • Carb: 44.1 g • Fiber: 6.3 g • Sugar: 3.2 g
Sodium: 126.5 mg (without salt)

Ingredients:

8 ounces uncooked linguine (I used Dreamfields)
1 pound chicken breast strips
1-2 tsp Cajun seasoning (or to taste)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 red onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 cup fat free low sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup skim milk
1 tbsp flour
3 tbsp light cream cheese
fresh cracked pepper
2 scallions, chopped
salt to taste
Smart Balance cooking spray


Directions:

Prep all your vegetables. In a small blender make a slurry by combining milk, flour and cream cheese. Set aside. Season chicken generously with Cajun seasoning, garlic powder and salt.



Prepare
pasta in salted water according to package directions.

Heat a large heavy nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; spray with cooking spray and add half of the chicken. Sauté 5 to 6 minutes or until done, set aside on a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken. Set aside.

Add olive oil to the skillet and reduce to medium; add bell peppers, onions, and garlic to skillet, sauté 3-4 minutes.

Add mushrooms and tomatoes and sauté 3-4 more minutes or until vegetables are tender. Season with 1/4 tsp salt, garlic powder and fresh cracked pepper to taste.

Reduce heat to medium-low; add chicken broth and pour in slurry stirring about 2 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium-low; add chicken broth and pour in slurry stirring about 2 minutes.Return chicken to skillet; adjust salt and Cajun seasoning to taste, cook another minute or two until hot, then add linguine; toss well to coat. Top with chopped scallions and enjoy!

Makes 7 1/2 cups.

Source: skinnytaste.com

Peanut Butter and Banana Omelet I

I hope you have a jar of peanut butter nearby. Over 4 years ago, I awoke and ventured to the kitchen to make some oatmeal. Along my way, I remembered there were some eggs I needed to use. An omelet (also spelled “omelette”, did you know that?) was the obvious solution but I had nothing to put in it. My breakfast always contains peanut butter so I needed to incorporate it into the omelet somehow. The obvious next ingredient was banana. So I sliced some banana into the eggs and lathered peanut butter inside – a culinary masterpiece!

 Ingredients:

2-3 eggs (1/2 – 3/4 cup egg substitute)
1 banana, in slices
2T chunky or creamy natural peanut butter
pinch of sugar

Instructions:

1. Place a medium sized skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Spray with cooking spray and pour in the eggs.

2. Sprinkle some sugar into the eggs and place sliced bananas into pan as demonstrated below:

3. Lift the sides of the omelet up to allow the still-liquid eggs to flow underneath and cook. After a few minutes, flip the omelet over with a large spatula.

4. Spread a generous coating of peanut butter onto one half of the omelet as shown below. Fold the omelet over and allow to cook for another minute. Flip it onto the other side for one last minute and serve!

Additional Info:

This is probably a very different flavor combo than you’re used to. But it’s also surprisingly good! I always use ketchup with my eggs but I don’t think it makes sense in this situation. But a nice strawberry or apricot jelly might work well as a dipping sauce.

source from peanutbutterboy.com

Ode to Oats – It’s Oatmeal Month

It’s Oatmeal Month, a time to savor the earthy warmth of this fiber–rich porridge. But while families have been serving up the Goldilocks favorite for centuries, only recently has this hearty breakfast choice been recognized for its cardiovascular, metabolic, and digestive benefits. No need to keep your cereal bland, though. Kick up the flavor and nutrition by adding some flair to your bowl:

  • Use low–fat milk instead of water to make a creamy batch that delivers calcium and protein. Add low–fat yogurt or apple sauce for more nutrients.
  • Swirl in some blackstrap molasses or honey rather than brown or white sugar. Molasses is rich in iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium, while honey has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.
  • Mix crushed almonds, flaxseed, or walnuts to add a robust taste that also improves cardiovascular health and may guard against cancers.
  • Top with raisins, cranberries, blueberries, or strawberries for a fruity punch that’s full of fiber and antioxidants.
  • Spice up your oats with cinnamon — found to help lower cholesterol, prevent cancer, fight infection, and reduce inflammation.

Go with steel cut or rolled oats over the instant varieties, which are often laced with unhealthy additives. If you’re pressed for time, try cooking it up in your slow cooker the night before so a nice warm pot awaits you.

My Oh My Omega – a right–fat diet

Recent science suggests health benefits come not from a low–fat diet, but a right–fat diet. Omega–3 fatty acids have been found to lower cancer risk, reduce depression, and boost brain development. But which source packs the most punch?

Go fish: Seafood is nature’s top omega–3 dispenser — giving you both DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), 2 essential lipids that must be obtained through what you eat. But concerns over mercury contamination scare many would–be fish–eaters into the poultry aisle. While the American Heart Association suggests consuming a catch twice a week, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends restricting fish to 12 ounces/week and avoiding big predators like shark or swordfish. Your best option is wild salmon, which is generally low in pollutants but rich in the healthy oil. Plus, research shows its high selenium content may protect against mercury’s harmful effects.

Go nuts: Flax and walnuts deliver omega–3 in the form of ALA (alpha–linolenic acid), which the body converts into DHA and EPA. Avoid trans and saturated fats, which can disrupt the conversion. Vitamins B6, B3, and C, zinc, and magnesium all play a crucial role in the enzyme process, so get sufficient amounts.

Supplement: Cod liver oil and fish oil are available without prescription. Supplements can be beneficial if you’re not getting enough omega–3s from diet alone. But they may produce negative side effects, so check with your doctor before taking them.

Colorless Health II

Health experts recommend adding color to your plate — deep greens, vibrant reds, golden yellows — to reap the benefits of the nutrient–dense fruit and veggie rainbow. But don’t let neutral hues found in your produce aisle deceive you — they aren’t taboo whites like refined sugars and flours. While pale in appearance, they’re rich in nutrition. So enjoy the healthful potency of these pigment–free super foods.

  • Garlic: Thought to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, this flavorful bulb may also protect against cancer. And studies show garlic contains antimicrobial properties that may battle bugs better than some drugs. For best results crush the cloves to unlock the beneficial compounds, and eat raw when possible like in salsas or salad dressings.
  • Cauliflower: Often broccoli’s cohort on a veggie platter, cauliflower is high in vitamin C and a good source of folate and vitamin K.
  • Mushrooms: High in selenium and potassium, these edible fungi are also rich in phytochemicals that may prevent breast and prostate cancer, according to recent studies. Plus, cooking doesn’t diminish their nutritional oomph. Sauté them with a little olive oil and spices, or insert them into your lasagna, sloppy joes, or chili in place of beef for a vegetarian twist.