Chef Mareya Ibrahim, the Fit Foodie and Author of Eat Like You Give A Fork – The Real Dish of Eating to Thrive, shares her top foods that can help fuel your core and get you in the mood:
Fit Foodie STAMINA supercharge
Because freekeh is the end result of working with immature grain, it keeps the high nutritional content wheat plants have in their early stages. Freekeh contains more protein, fiber and minerals than mature wheat, and ranks low on the glycemic index.
What’s more, freekeh contains both fiber and resistant starch–two key ingredients in any weight loss diet. When compared to other grains, freekeh’s fiber content is unquestionably superior; compared to brown rice, freekeh contains 3 times the fiber, and two times the fiber compared to quinoa.
2) KALE SPROUTS
If you’re down with eating Kale, try eating it in sprout form instead! If you are not familiar with the concept of sprouting, here is a brief overview: sprouting refers to a dietary choice to consume vegetables while they are still in their sprout form—that is, to eat kale as a sprout instead of in the leafy, cabbage-like form we are more familiar with. The benefit to sprouting is that, when these vegetables are in their sprout form, they tend to be even richer in nutrients.
Fit Foodie MOOD boost
A staple in Middle Eastern countries from Syria and Lebanon to Jordan and Israel, this strained yogurt is a thicker, more spreadable version of its Greek cousin. Its crème fraîche-like texture and tangy taste that’s somewhere between sour cream and cream cheese are almost too good to be true, and yet labneh is bona fide yogurt and has all of its health benefits (low in fat and carbs, full of protein and calcium).
4) GRAPE SEED OIL
People who ate a Mediterranean-style diet rich in grape seed oil, nuts, whole grains, fish, legumes, and vegetables were 30 percent less likely to suffer from depression, compared to those who had the lowest Mediterranean diet scores, according to a study the Archives of General Psychiatry. The mix of nutrients in this happy diet can keep your spirits up, scientists say.
Fit Foodie SKIN Supercharge
5) MULTI-COLORED CARROTS
Purple carrots aren’t simply a novelty. Their unique color reflects their healthy phytochemical constituents. Not only does ‘Purple Haze’ have the vitamin A and beta-carotene of ordinary carrots—evident in its orange center—it’s also rich in anthocyanins, the antioxidant compounds that give blueberries their distinctive color and superfood health benefits. Studies have found that these blue and purple pigments can improve memory, enhance vision, protect against heart attacks, act as anti-inflammatories, and even help control weight.
Sure, they’re swell on salads, but cook them down and these plump little beauties can help save your skin. Why? Lycopene, the phytochemical that makes tomatoes red, helps eliminate skin-aging free radicals caused by ultraviolet rays. Your body gains the most sun-shielding nutrients when the vegetable is heated. Just a half-cup of cooked tomatoes or pasta sauce has 16 milligrams of lycopene; along with ample sunscreen, that daily dose should help keep you out of the red.
Fit Foodie MEMORY boost
Berries are loaded with anthocyanins, powerful phytochemicals that give these delicious edible gems their vibrant purple, red and blue hues. A 2012 Harvard study found that women who ate at least one cup of blueberries and strawberries per week experienced a sizeable 2.5-year delay in mental decline relative to women who rarely ate berries. With that in mind (pun intended), try adding blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, or strawberries to your yogurt, cereal, pancake and muffin batter.
Gluten free pancakes with a topping of fresh berries, doesn’t get any better!
Don’t be scared of these powerful, little fish just because they often come in a can. They are high in omega-3’s, contain virtually no mercury and are loaded with calcium. They also contain iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese as well as a full complement of B vitamins. If you can find the fresh ones, even better and so simple to prepare grilled or baked with fresh lemon juice. I grew up on these in the Mediterranean because they were my grandfather’s favorite and I can say he was incredibly sharp into his 90’s!
Grilled sardines with a roasted red pepper sauce marry two incredibly nutrient dense foods together.
Fit Foodie METABOLISM boost
High in calcium (a known weight-reducer), broccoli is also extraordinarily high in vitamins C, K and A. One serving of broccoli will also provide you with plenty of folate and dietary fiber, plus a variety of antioxidants. Broccoli is also one of the best detox foods you can add to your diet.
10) HOT PEPPERS
Jalapeno, habanero, cayenne and other forms of spicy peppers directly boost metabolism and circulation. In fact, eating hot peppers not only speeds up your metabolism, it also reduces cravings. This is related to its capsaicin content, a compound that stimulates the body’s pain receptors, temporarily increasing blood circulation and metabolic rate. If you have ever experienced a bout of intense sweating or your head itching after eating a particularly spicy dish, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. In fact, studies have shown that eating hot peppers can boost the metabolism by up to 25%, with the spike lasting for up to 3 hours.
Mareya Ibrahim is The Fit Foodie, a chef, holistic nutrition coach, author and award-winning entrepreneur and inventor. She is the founder of Grow Green Industries, INC. and the creator of the Eat Cleaner line of food wash and wipes. Mareya is the author of “Eat Like You Give a Fork: The Real Dish on Eating to Thrive,” published by St. Martin’s Press. Her writing also includes “The Clean Eating Handbook” and the NY Times bestseller “The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life.” Her backpage column, “The Fit Foodie”, has appeared in Edible Orange County Magazine since 2011. Mareya is also the host of the “Recipes for Your Best Life” podcast, and appeared on The Food Network, eHow.com, Livestrong.com. and the Emmy- nominated cooking show, Recipe Rehab. Mareya is a well-respected food safety and nutrition expert and has been featured on The Doctors, ABC, CBS, HSN, QVC and hundreds of news media and broadcast outlets.