A healthful connection exists between what is on your plate and how you feel. Combining certain foods not only deepens the flavor but can also increase the nutrients your body absorbs from the foods. Enjoy these power pairings for nutritious and delicious meals and snacks.
Roasted Tomatoes & Olive Oil: My favorite way to eat tomatoes is simple and delicious. Halve cherry tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil, and roast in the oven until brown around the edges. Not only does this bring out the natural sweet flavors of the tomatoes it also helps increase the availability of the powerful antioxidant, lycopene, to your body for absorption. Antioxidants are powerful compounds that help fight disease such as heart disease and cancer as they help neutralize free radicals that can cause cell damage.
Chicken & Broccoli: Women in particular often don’t get enough energy-boosting iron. Meats such as chicken, beef, pork and seafood are excellent sources of the readily absorbed form of iron called heme iron. Leafy greens, beans and grains contain iron, but in a less readily absorbed form. To help your body absorb more iron from your food try paring iron-rich foods with foods high vitamin C such as broccoli. Vitamin C acts as a key and unlocks the iron so your blood cells can get to it. Iron plays a very important role in our body as it carries oxygen through our blood to various tissues and muscles throughout our body. It is a very important nutrient for everyone, but particularly during pregnancy, childhood and those that have iron-deficiency anemia. Make a quick stir-fry with chicken and broccoli or get creative by using Vitamin C acts as a key and unlocks the iron so your blood cells can get to it. Iron plays a very important role in our body as it carries oxygen through our blood to various tissues and muscles throughout our body. It is a very important nutrient for everyone, but particularly during pregnancy, childhood and for those who have iron-deficiency anemia. Make a quick stir-fry with chicken and broccoli or get creative by using Vitamin C-rich citrus fruit for meat marinades, topping a chicken spinach salad with strawberries, or adding roasted red peppers to hummus.
Dark Chocolate & Fruit: The flavor of chocolate-covered fruit is a perfect after-dinner snack when you are craving a sweet treat. Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants but also calorie-dense, so combining it with low-calorie fresh fruits will give you a full-flavored chocolate fix with less calories and more nutrition than chocolate alone.
Kale & Grapeseed Oil: Kale is a dark leafy green that is well known for its nutrient density. The vitamins, minerals and antioxidants naturally found in kale are more easily absorbed in the presence of fat. There are a variety of fats, such as cooking oils, that can mellow the flavor of the leafy green and in turn increase absorption of the fat soluble flavonoids. I like to brush kale leaves with a little bit of grapeseed oil, sprinkle with spices, and bake in the oven for a crispy kale chip snack. Some other ideas? Start your meal with a leafy green salad and include extra virgin olive oil in the dressing, or simply lightly sauté kale in your favorite cooking oil as a nutrient-rich side dish.
Spinach & Avocados: Spinach is packed with lutein and vitamin A, which are both good for our eyes. Avocados supply lutein and vitamin A as well, but also deliver the healthy fats your body needs to soak up these nutrients. Toss avocado chunks on top of a spinach salad or top your favorite sandwich with spinach leaves and avocado slices.
Kara Behlke, RD, LD
Insider’s Viewpoint Archive