5 New Superfoods to Get on Your Holiday Table
Holiday dinners get a bad rap for being unhealthy occasions rife with overindulgence. And while that may be true to some extent (think bottomless cups of eggnog or all-you-can eat dessert buffets), holiday eating can actually be surprisingly healthy. In fact, think of your upcoming gathering as an opportunity to experiment with superfoods that taste delicious and add a nutritious boost to your holiday dishes.
This trendy grain comes from wheat that’s harvested when it’s young and green. And because of its early harvest, it packs more fiber and nutrients (such as protein, magnesium and potassium) than mature wheat. In fact, a serving has three times as much fiber as the same amount of brown rice. “It’s similar in taste and texture to barley,” says Lauri Wright, Ph.D., R.D., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “That makes it a great addition to a Thanksgiving dinner pilaf.”
More commonly called "celery root," this vegetable is low in carbohydrates and high in vitamin C and potassium. Because it takes on a creamy texture — and has a sweet, nutty flavor — when cooked, mashed or pureed, celeriac is great a side dish to serve with your Thanksgiving turkey. It’s equally delicious roasted along with other seasonal root vegetables ( see recipe).
This root vegetable is part of the brassica family — which also includes broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts — known for its high concentration of cancer-fighting phytonutrients called glucosinolates. “Try mashing cooked rutabagas with a bit of plain Greek yogurt for a healthy alternative to traditional mashed potatoes,” suggests Wright. You can also roast them.
“Fermented foods are trendy now, and with good reason,” says Mary Ryan, R.D., of Beyond Broccoli nutritional counseling in Jackson, Wyo. “They are a rich source of the beneficial bacteria called probiotics that are essential for keeping your gut healthy.” Replace the milk in your eggnog recipe with kefir and you’ll give that holiday indulgence a healthy probiotic boost.
These little nutritional powerhouses pack a good amount of protein and Omega-3 oils. “They are also a complete protein — with all nine essential amino acids — making them a boon for vegans,” says Ryan. They have a mild taste and don’t need to be ground (like flax). Try sprinkling them on top of your holiday salad or vegetable side dishes for a bit of extra crunch and a lot of extra nutrients.
Sally Wadyka is a Boulder, Colorado-based journalist who writes about nutrition, health and wellness.