This nutrition rich, leafy green is a good (non-dairy) source of calcium, a mineral essential for keeping women’s bones healthy and preventing osteoporosis later in life. One cup of cooked kale provides 10% of your daily calcium needs. Kale is also rich in folate, a crucial vitamin involved in fetal brain and spine development, as well as iron, and vitamins A and K. We’re also huge fans of kale for its great taste and texture, as well as versatility in the kitchen!
Use it: Add kale to a fruit smoothie for a veggie boost at breakfast or snack time; sauté kale with garlic and olive oil for an easy veggie side dish; make kale “chips” by roasting olive oil brushed kale leaves until crispy.
Have you ever looked at a walnut half and thought it looked similar to the hemispheres of the human brain? It may be coincidence, but it also happens to be true that walnuts are a great food to keep your brain healthy. Walnuts are rich in omega 3 fatty acids that have been shown to improve cognitive development and potentially prevent cognitive decline as you get older. And according to recent research at the University of Scranton, walnuts contain the highest amounts of polyphenols of any nut. Polyphenols are one type of antioxidant that specifically targets LDL (“bad cholesterol”) and are known to help protect the heart and fight atherosclerosis by slowing plaque buildup and improving artery and vein health.
Use it: Blend walnuts into smoothies, sprinkle onto salads, use as a crust/ topping for fish or chicken, or snack on walnut halves paired with fruit for a satisfying snack. Keep portions to about 2 tablespoons per day (about 8 walnut halves.)
Just one cup of cooked lentils supplies you with 30% (about 6mg) of your daily iron needs and 17 grams of protein. They’re also super wallet friendly (just 70 cents per pound!) and only take 20-25 minutes to prepare and cook. Lentils also contain zinc for your immune system, and a whopping 16 grams of fiber per cup (talk about a filling food!)
Use it: Add cooked lentils to a green salad for a protein and fiber boost; or combine lentils with a whole grain like quinoa, and veggies, for a no-fuss one container meal.
These easy to eat soybean filled pods are packed with protein AND fiber, making them the perfect combination for a hunger squelching snack. Bonus points because whole soy foods, such as edamame, may help lower the risk of heart disease and breast cancer when eaten in moderate amounts.
Thaw and eat 3/4 – 1 cup edamame in the shell for a quick snack; add shelled edamame to stir fries or Asian inspired salads; use as a topping for pizza; or add to a pasta and veggie dish.
All berries (blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries) are packed with antioxidants that can help fight off nasty free radicals. Free radicals speed up outward signs of aging (like wrinkles!), as well as diseases like cancer and heart disease. Berries are also low in calories and packed with fiber, to help you stay satisfied, and add natural sweetness to your diet. One cup of raspberries contains just 80 calories and almost 10 grams of fiber!
Use it: Add berries to smoothies, whole grain cereal and milk, or breakfast parfaits in the morning; top salads with berries for an added sweet dimension of flavor (we love strawberries, walnuts, and goat cheese on top of salad greens!) at lunch or dinner; or top ice cream with mixed berries for a healthy sweet treat for dessert.