Healthy Gourmet Foods

12 delicious treats you shouldn’t feel guilty about eating
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1. Wine and Champagne

You already know fruits of the vine help prevent heart disease and strokes-but they’ll also give you a cancer-fighting boost, thanks to the polyphenols in grapes and grape skins. Red wines and rosés have the highest antioxidant levels, but white wine or champagne are still nutritious enough to pop a cork over. Just stick to one drink a day, says Ellie Krieger, RD, author of The Food You Crave.
Photo by Andy Lyons

2. Caviar

These salty little jewels need not be reserved for New Year’s Eve. With just 40 calories, each tablespoon is a rich source of protein, iron, and magnesium (all essential for proper functioning of the body), as well as vitamin B12, which we need more of as we age. Try it in your Saturday scrambled eggs and as an elegant garnish for a bowl of creamy bisque.
Photo by John Noltner

3. Figs

One of the sexiest foods around, figs are high in heart-healthy fiber and have the best essential mineral profile of the common fruits. Try nesting a bit of gorgonzola or goat cheese inside a couple of Black Mission figs and place an almond inside each, then drizzle with honey. For an a.m. treat, sprinkle chopped dried figs over oatmeal or yogurt.
Photo by Colleen Duffley

4. Wild Copper River Salmon

Loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, wild sockeye from Alaska’s Copper River could be the best tasting salmon in the world, says Connie Guttersen, RD, author of The Sonoma Diet. It also contains more astaxanthin (an antioxidant thought to slow aging) than farmed salmon. If you’re concerned about toxins, ask the seller how it was raised. Season with salt, pepper and fresh herbs, and sear in olive oil; serve over salad or rice pilaf.
Photo by King Au

5. Artisanal Cheese

"All cheese is rich in vitamin D, calcium, and protein, which we need for bone health," Guttersen says. But artisanal cheese is made in small batches with local ingredients, using old-fashioned techniques — so it’s fresh, pure, and free of fillers, additives, and coloring. At 80 to 110 calories per ounce, it’s great with pasta, salad, sandwiches or fruit.
Photo by Peter Krumhardt

6. Organic Grass-Fed Beef

It can cost more than $25 a pound, but it’s worth it: Grass-fed beef is leaner, more tender and higher in omega-3s than grain-fed, says Molly Kimball, RD, of Elmwood Fitness Center, in New Orleans. The little fat it contains helps your body absorb its high levels of vitamins A and E, which are essential to proper immune function (the latter may also help reduce breast cysts). Rub a 3- to 4-ounce portion with a little salt, pepper, and olive oil, then grill.
Photo by Andy Lyons

7. Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is thick, rich, low in sugar, and high in protein, which helps keep muscles strong and blood sugar levels even. In addition to full-fat, it comes in low-fat and fat-free varieties. "A sublime way to eat yogurt is to toast some walnuts and sprinkle them on top with a drizzle of honey," Krieger says. "Or use it to lighten up dips and salad dressings."
Photo by Mike Dieter

8. Dark Chocolate with at least 70% Cocoa

Look for chocolate that’s devoid of the waxy fillers you find in drugstore candy bars. You want it packed with antioxidants that reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and protect against damage from free radicals (which speed up the aging process and contribute to cancer). Dark chocolate with 70% cocoa has more fiber, antioxidants and phenylethylamine (a chemical that helps keep you calm and happy). Just try to stick to one ounce a day.
Photo by Andy Lyons

9. Whole Bean Coffee

"If you keep your intake below three cups a day, coffee has significant health benefits," says Laura Pensiero, RD, coauthor of The Strang Cancer Prevention Center Cookbook. Imbibers have lower rates of colon cancer, diabetes, cirrhosis of the liver and Parkinson’s disease-and are less likely to commit suicide, reveals Vanderbilt University’s Institute for Coffee Studies. Caffeine helps, as do coffee’s magnesium and antioxidants. Grind beans just before drinking to retain the most nutrients.
Photo by Marty Baldwin

10. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

"All olive oil has antioxidants that fight against the cell inflammation that can lead to cancer and heart disease," says Pensiero. (Cloudy, unfiltered varieties have the most.) But EVOO also contains oleocanthal, an anti-inflammatory compound that’s similar to ibuprofen. Oils from Italy, Greece, Spain or California are the most flavorful; use them sparingly to adorn pasta or salads.
Photo by Andy Lyons

11. Walnut Oil

Like olive oil, it contains antioxidants that fight heart disease and cancer, but it’s higher in omega-3 fatty acids. "This polyunsaturated fat improves cognitive function, reducing risk for mental health conditions including anxiety, depression, and Alzheimer’s," says Kimball. It also staves off inflammation, helping asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Enjoy with bread, grains and veggies, or mix with mustard, shallots and vinegar for a tasty salad dressing.
Photo by Jason Donnelly

12. Specialty Salts

Forget Morton and kosher salts. Try gray salt harvested off the coast of Brittany, Himalayan pink salt, and Sicilian sea salt instead: "They really add a luxurious element to the simplest foods," says Guttersen. Specialty salts have only minor nutritional advantages over standard types, but their larger grain and heightened flavor mean you use less per dish. Toss over hot chocolate chip cookies or dulce de leche ice cream.
Photo by King Au

First Published Mon, 2010-05-10 16:00

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