Giada De Laurentiis Recommends These ‘Superfoods’ That Add Flavor to a Healthy Meal

Celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis recently released her book on healthy eating, which includes a full menu of recipes, advice, and even a three-day reboot cleanse. While she’s now more focused on “clean” nutrition, the Food Network star refuses to sacrifice flavor. Specializing in Italian cuisine, the De Laurentiis has a full list of “superfoods” she incorporates into her dishes on a regular basis to bring maximum taste to every meal.

Giada De Laurentiis attends Food Network's 25th Birthday Party Celebration at the 11th annual New York City Wine & Food Festival at Pier 92
Giada De Laurentiis | Amy Sussman/Getty Images for Food Network

Giada De Laurentiis gives her take on ‘superfoods’

In her book Eat Better, Feel Better: My Recipes for Wellness and Healing, Inside and Out, De Laurentiis describes why ‘superfood’ has become the new buzzword when it comes to nutrition.

“‘Superfood’ is so overused these days,” De Laurentiis wrote. “The truth is, no single food has the magical power to keep us healthy… Some are richer in particular nutrients we can all benefit from, such as omega-3 fatty acids or antioxidants. But the reality is that the quantity you’d need to eat to reap a significant benefit might not be all that appetizing.”

De Laurentiis explains her reasoning for the options on her go-to “superfoods” list, which includes plenty of items from her Mediterranean background.

“For me, superfoods are ingredients that punch way above their weight when it comes to making things taste, smell, or look amazing,” she remarked. “They do it in a way that won’t disturb the balance you’re trying to restore in your gut. You probably won’t be surprised that a lot of these come straight out of the Italian pantry — there is a reason the Mediterranean diet is acknowledged by doctors around the world as the healthiest.”

RELATED: Giada De Laurentiis Says This Region of Italy Is the Most Underrated When It Comes to Food

Capers and olives and lemons, oh my!

If you like some Mediterranean tang, De Laurentiis suggests ingredients like capers which “burst in your mouth and add briny brightness to dressings, tuna salad, pan sauces, and pastas.” The culinary queen recommends frying some capers in a bit of oil for crunchy bits that can be added as a topping for seafood or salads. For those who want a fruitiness along with salt in their meal, De Laurentiis goes adding proposes olives.

“Like capers, olives contribute a tangy salinity to lots of dishes and a meaty mouthfeel that is super satisfying,” the Food Network personality shared. “I prefer green olives to black ones, especially green Castelvetrano olives and Cerignolas, which have an apple-like bite and a clean, briny flavor.”

More of a citrus fan? De Laurentiis raves of how a lemon can zest up your meal from the juice to grinding down that rind.

“My love of lemon is well documented, but don’t forget about the zest when you are cooking with lemon,” she wrote. “The little shreds add texture and amplify the lemony flavor of dressings, sauces, and desserts with every bite. The same goes for the zests of limes and oranges.”

Giada De Laurentiis adds tomato paste to ‘pump up flavor’

Other superfoods that make the cut on De Laurentiis’ run down include fennel, fresh herbs, baby arugula, apple cider vinegar, anchovies, and mushrooms. The Giada at Home star also attests to the power punch of flavor that tomato paste and sun-dried tomatoes can add to recipes, and says you only need a small amount for maximum results.

“Nothing gives sauces, soups, and stews depth of flavor like tomatoes, but you don’t need to add a 28-ounce can to the pot to get the benefit,” De Laurentiis explained. “Sautéing a tablespoon or two of tomato paste until it darkens and develops some caramelization is an easy way to pump up flavor in many dishes without making them taste overtly ‘tomato-y’; two sundried tomatoes, finely sliced, do the same for a grain dish or a pan sauce.”

RELATED: Why Giada De Laurentiis Says You Don’t Have to Eliminate Foods to Eat Well

Cheese lovers should steer towards pecorino for easier digestion than the traditional Parmigiano, according to De Laurentiis. The sheep’s milk cheese is also more cost effective.

“Because it is made from sheep’s milk rather than cow’s milk, many people find pecorino easier to digest than Parmigiano-Reggiano, and the stronger, sharper flavor means a little goes a long way,” De Laurentiis said. “It’s also a little easier on the wallet than a good imported Parmigiano-Reggiano.”

Eat Better, Feel Better is now on sale.