1. Quinoa: “IT’S A QUINO!” We have ALL seen that Bud Light Commercial… And if for some reason you live under a rock… I take pity on you because you must miss all the good commercials and like what else is there to live for. So here ya go (just because it makes me smile)
The unfortunate thing about this commercial is that it definitely does not make quinoa (which is pronounced KEEN-wah … get it together people) seem extremely appetizing. Except to those crazed sports super fans who went out and bought it just to see if it will help their team win. You know who you are. In reality, quinoa is both delicious AND nutritious. Win win. Quinoa is what nutritious call a “pseudo-grain”; it acts, and is used, like a grain but is really a seed. It does not have a strong flavor so it is a SUPERB replacement for things like rice, white or brown, and will pick up the flavor of whatever you cook it with. Quinoa is made up of slow-releasing carbs and is high in fiber so, especially for the people who claim they can’t diet because meals never fill them up, you will feel much fuller than expected and fight off hunger a lot longer. It also has about 10-18% protein so it one of the highest vegetarian sources of protein. Check out my recipe section for some neat ways to use quinoa (more will be coming soon too!).
2. Kale: Ahhhh the glorious “Queen of Greens“. I absolutely adore kale ❤ It is a nutritional POWERHOUSE. Just one cup of kale is only roughly 33 calories and contains 9% calcium, 134% vitamin C, 206% vitamin A, and a riiiiidiculous 684% vitamin K (based on percent daily values). OH MAH GAWD. Kale is also high in potassium, which for us lifters means it will help lessen muscle cramps, and is an insanely better every day option when compared to other high potassium choices like bananas. It is also high in iron and fiber which makes it, like quinoa, good in making any meal more filling…. Personal sidenote: I began substituting the spinach in my protein shakes/smoothies for kale and found that what used to barely satisfy me for breakfast now not only fills me up but keeps me full for hours!
3. Eggs: INCREDIBLE EDIBLE EGGS 😀 Remember that nutritional tug-of-war I was talking about? Unfortunately these wonderful little guys have been a sad victim of that for far FAR too long. Thankfully, nutritionists are spreading the good news about eggs more these days and I am here to do that same. Many people remember the times when we were all told that devils wereeee well basically the anti-diet food. They were terrible for us and we needed to stop eating them. Then all of a sudden it was okay to eat eggs but ONLY the egg whites. It was imperative though that we ditch the yolk. The delicious yellow center of my favorite friends were just not to be consumed. So wait a minute… You mean eggs raised our cholesterol sooo we could eat them but we had to throw out all the amino acids and nutrients? Yup that makes perfect sense… Stop listening to ridiculous lies about eggs. Eggs are 1- quality protein, 2- good fats, 3- antioxidants (specifically lutein and zeaxanthine). One whole large egg is just 77 calories and contains 5g of fat and 6g of protein as well as ALL 9 essential amino acids. As far as your cholesterol goes… Eggs raise HDL which if your GOOD cholesterol. Also the yolk of the egg is the part that contains the enzyme we need to breakdown cholesterol. It is actually recommended that we each 1 egg a day, some even say 1.3 egg yolks a day. So go ahead, indulge those fantasizes you didn’t think you could and EAT THE WHOLE FREAKIN EGG.
4. Coconut: Okay I want to admit this and get it out of the way immediately… I was never a fan of coconut anything. If it was coconut flavored I did not want it. BLECH! So if you hate coconut, I feel ya. Trust me though, you want to implement the two things I am about to tell you about into your regular diet andddd, here’s the kicker, you will start to really appreciate them. Coconut is a kickass source of many things that help our body run really awesomely. The best way to get these benefits are via coconut water and coconut oil. Coconut water for one tastes amazing and is filled with natural electrolytes. So ditch those post-workout or post-game sports drinks and pick up some coconut water! Thumbs up. It provides power and energy and keeps us running like a well oiled machine. Coconut oil now is my favorite product for baking and cooking and all that jazz. It is super high in medium-chain fatty acids that boost our immune system and balance blood sugar levels. It is also a good source of antioxidants, speeds up the metabolism, and aids in digestion. So feel 100% all around? You betcha!
5. Sweet Potatoes: Okay, guilty again, like coconut I was not sweet potatoes biggest fan when I first tried these fantastic carb options. Like they taste like syrup. I mean am I right?! But recently, I have been giving them more of a shot andddd so far so good. Sweet potatoes are proclaimed as one of the healthiest veggies! My Irish blood craves potatoes like nothing. It is not even normal. So if you are like me give these bad boys a try and ditch those other fakers that are no good for us. Sweet potatoes are also a staple for bodybuilders or people in weight training for multiple reasons. The complex carbs are awesome for a roughly 90 minute pre-workout snack or meal because you will maintain your energy longer. And remember that potassium trick I told you about with kale? Well sweet potatoes contain that same essential mineral in a more beneficial source. They also contain aminos that you find in many protein powders and supplements; tyrosine, valine, and isoleucine. In addition, a 200g serving has 7g of fiber, 700% vitamin A, and over 100% vitamin C.
6. Tofu: Last but not least, one of the most infamous bad reps. Tofu often gets pointed out for being bland, boring, etc. BUT, like quinoa and just about every other plain and basic food that you guys eat, it takes on the flavor of anything you cook it with so it is SUPER versatile. Another question when it comes to tofu is whether it is actually a sufficient source of protein, especially for vegetarians and vegans. It absolutely is a fantastic source of protein just not as densely. It about 290g of tofu to get the same amount of protein that you would get in 150g of lean meat. However, tofu has significantly lower cholesterol and fat that any meat. So it is definitely a good option to use as a protein source in your regular diet. Tofu is also rich in calcium, vitamin E, iron, and copper (which helps our bodies break down and utilize iron).