Kale was actually quite popular last year and it is still holding strong. Dark leafy greens in general are a must since they are loaded with folate for your nervous system, fiber for good digestion and iron and vitamin K for healthy blood and bones. As a general rule of thumb: the darker the leafy green the better so be sure to add kale to your salads, stir-fiys, soups and even on your pizza! Here is an easy kale chip recipe to get you started!
More research is coming out that the bacteria in your gut plays a huge role in your overall health. A large section of the population struggles with poor digestion and a factor in this is making sure you have the right happy bugs in your stomach. Fermented foods can provide the necessary bugs AKA probiotics that you need. Examples include yogurt, kefir, kimchi and sauerkraut. Just be mindful about how much and which ones you pick. Some products are much higher in salt and sugar, two things we need to be mindful not to overeat. Here are a few a simple recipe using yogurt as a base to get you started:
Walnut Mandarin Parfait
Cocoa Maple Yogurt
Peach Berry Frozen Yogurt
Cauliflower is a member of the cabbage family and is high in fiber and vitamin C. It is also a good source of potassium and vitamin B6. Cauliflower is making a come back mainly because it is milder than many of the other cabbage family members (brussel sprouts and broccoli for example). That is why it makes a great addition to casseroles. Another great use is to blend it down after boiling to add to mashed potatoes as a way to reduce the carbohydrates. I recommend broiling it with a little lemon juice and Parmesan cheese in the oven till browned. Very tasty!
Protein is an important nutrient and many people are starting to include protein shakes prior to or after work outs or as a meal substitute to improve their health. Protein shakes can be included in a healthy diet but the reality is that many of us already get more than enough protein. Consider that protein shakes and powders still add calories and if you are adding this on top of your meals and snacks, you may just be making it harder to reach your weight loss goals. As a rule of thumb the average person needs about 0.8g of protein per kilogram of body weight. This might vary depending on your health and activity level (marathon runners and hikers need a lot more). If you are looking for an easy smoothie using a protein powder: Morning Power Smoothie. If you would rather skip the powder in your smoothie but increase the protein other ways try this one: Green Eyed Smoothie.
Spelt is an ancient form of wheat. It is very high in protein as well as fibre. It also provides a significant amount of magnesium, potassium and iron. Spelt is not gluten free but it is lower in gluten than some of our more modern forms of wheat. That doesn't necessarily make it any healthier. An important thing to note with this wheat is much like regular wheat it can be processed down, so there are refined and unrefined versions. What you want to look for is whole grain spelt. Spelt flour can be a great additional to baked goods or pancakes. Whole spelt grains can be cooked up similar to a rice pilaf.
Overall a lot of great things to try adding into your diet. In the end though, the most important things are to be active, eat a balanced diet with lots of whole foods and look after yourself. That means getting plenty or sleep and managing your stress as well.