When it comes to creating flavorful, delicious meals that are also bursting with nutrition, it’s all about making easy upgrades without any sacrifice. It turns out you can embrace simple, clean eating without having to settle for bland food that leaves you feeling unsatisfied. By incorporating these different ultra-healthy add-ons you can both enhance the flavor of your dishes while simultaneously upgrading their nutritional value and health benefits. These ingredients also happen to help support the body in a myriad of different ways - they can help boost alkalinity, decrease inflammation, increase energy levels, support healthy digestion, and aid in detoxification.
1. Fermented Foods
The gut is more than just the core of our body, it is also the core of our immune system. One of the main ways we can build up a strong immune system is by incorporating fermented and probiotic-rich foods into our daily diet. Things like cultured coconut yogurt, sauerkraut and kimchi, tempeh, natto, miso, and raw apple cider vinegar are all foods that can be incorporated right into your recipes and meals to add a boost of healthy flora. You can also try blending an organic probiotic powder like Sunbiotics into things like smoothies or protein shakes for extra beneficial bacteria for your gut. Your digestion and immune system will thank you.
2. Fresh Sprouts
An easy way to boost your overall vitamin, mineral, and phytonutrient intake is to eat sprouts on a regular basis. They are bursting with life energy! These can be alfalfa, broccoli, sunflower, lentil, or any other sprouts of your choice. You can find them at the health food store, or learn to grow them easily right at home. They’re a rich source of enzymes to help support more complete digestion, and they also contain plenty of potent plant nutrients and compounds that help protect our cells and ward off disease. They’re also a great source of easily digestible plant protein! Toss them on salads, soups, add them to sandwiches, or just munch on a handful as a snack.
3. Unrefined Coconut Oil
The human body needs healthy fats to thrive, and while fat is pretty easy to come by, the type of fat and overall quality is paramount. Unrefined coconut oil is a pantry must-have because it’s full of health benefits and is very stable cooking oil, which can’t be said for most vegetable oils. It is less likely to oxidize or go rancid when heated. It has a smoke point of around 280-365°, and can even be used to saute or roast vegetables. Coconut oil is also a great source of medium-chain triglycerides which have been shown to help boost metabolism, aid in energy production, and help keep blood sugar levels stable.
4. Himalayan Pink Salt
One of the easiest ways to add extra trace minerals to your diet is by swapping out common table salt for a pink Himalayan salt (or another high-quality sea salt like Celtic salt). While both table salt and Himalayan salt are comprised of mostly one element - sodium chloride - Himalayan salt contains up to 84 additional minerals and trace elements - making it a far superior choice. This can be very helpful in balancing electrolyte levels, especially in hot climates or after exercise.
Speaking of mineral salts, seaweeds such as nori, pulse, kelp, dulse, arame, wakame, and kombu are all excellent sources of minerals, including iodine which can help protect the thyroid and may help stimulate weight loss. The mineral salts found in sea salt help build the blood and alkalinize the body. Sea veggies are also very cleansing and have been shown to help rid the body of heavy metals, toxins, and radiation. Try using nori as a wrap with brown rice or quinoa, roasted vegetables, and a yummy tahini sauce, or sprinkle some dulse flakes over your salad, soups, or avocado toast.
6. Fresh Herbs
There’s nothing quite like fresh herbs when it comes to adding flavor to food, yet it’s also easy to walk right past them on the produce rack, while you load up on more staple vegetables like broccoli, carrots, and zucchini. Don’t forget to include on your shopping list cilantro, parsley, chives, basil, and mint - add them to salads or find other creative ways to utilize them as garnishes to your existing meals. They contain plenty of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, chlorophyll, and plant compounds that help boost the immune system.
7. Fresh Spices
If you tend to rely on powdered spices to flavor your food, try subbing some of those for the fresh stuff. Instead of dried ginger or turmeric, try using the fresh roots. They can be finely minced and used in recipes, juiced, or steeped to make fresh tea. You will get even more of the plant’s health benefits because the nutrients haven’t been degraded by heat and oxidation. That’s not to say dried spices are bad. There’s plenty of benefits to using things like dried cayenne which helps boost digestion and has antibacterial properties, and cinnamon which has been shown to help balance blood sugar levels.