In a perfect world, everything we eat would taste delicious, be super-convenient, and offer plenty of nutritional benefits. But do such foods exist in the real world?
They certainly do -- and hard-to-find specialty foods need not apply. These 10 nutritionists' favorites are versatile and delicious, and most can be prepared in a flash.
Calypso, scarlet, black turtle, cranberry -- even the variety names of this delicious food are pretty cool.
They’re such a nutrient dynamo that beans are the only food recognized in two food groups, vegetables and proteins, says Connie Evers, RD, author of How to Teach Nutrition to Kids.
Beans are high in low-fat protein, packed with fiber, and contain a host of nutrients and phytonutrients, the combination of which may help guard against diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers while also building and repairing muscle.
Add beans to soups, stews, and chili. Sprinkle them in salads, and add them to burritos or scrambled eggs. Or try blending beans with spices for great spreads or dips.
Smooth, creamy, and extra-thick, Greek yogurt is a great source of protein, potassium, and calcium and is also an important source of probiotics.
The nutrients in yogurt help build strong bones, aid digestion, and keep your immune system going strong. Along with having less watery whey than regular yogurt -- which helps make the Greek variety super-thick -- Greek yogurt also has less sodium and fewer carbs than regular yogurt and packs twice the protein.
Use plain nonfat Greek yogurt as a base for salad dressings, dips, and smoothies, suggests Evers, or try topping soups, stews, nachos, or chili with it. If you like your yogurt sweet, add a teaspoon of jam and sprinkle in some nuts or seeds and you've got a quick, healthy on-the-go breakfast.
One of the most nutritious vegetables you can eat -- especially if you leave the skins on -- sweet potatoes are rich in heart-healthy potassium and vision-boosting vitamin A. Fat- and cholesterol-free, sweet potatoes also have a rich, sugary flavor while still being low in calories.
Cubed sweet potatoes cook up quickly in the microwave, or you can toss them with a bit of oil and seasonings and roast them in the oven. Sweet potatoes can also give body to stews and a sweet flavor to lasagnas and other casseroles.
Like other legumes, peanuts are packed with the protein your body needs to build and repair muscle. They also contain mono- and polyunsaturated fats, important for heart health. The nutrients in peanuts possibly may lower your risk for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
Eat peanuts with their thin red skins on, suggests David Grotto, RD, author of 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life!, and you'll get the same antioxidants you find in wine and chocolate.