With food pairings, many of us think about the proper eats to pair with wine or the best flavor combinations. When it comes to finding the best combinations, considering nutritional benefits should be just as important. When eaten alone, foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables deliver tons of healthy building blocks to help our bodies stay in the best shape possible. When combined with the right partners, these nutritious foods can be even healthier. That’s great news, because a plain bowl of steamed brown rice doesn’t offer much in the flavor department.
The key is knowing what choices will give the biggest boost, because some pairings can negatively impact one another. A glass of milk with red meat might not be the best option, because calcium can make it more difficult for our bodies to absorb iron. But these 5 combinations are among the best for your body, and they also happen to be delicious. Make these combos a part of your regular diet and healthy eating will become synonymous with delicious eating.
1. Avocado and Tomato
Mexican food lovers might want to enjoy a scoop or two of guacamole alongside that pico de gallo, because avocados and tomatoes work better as a team than they do alone. The Huffington Post reported that many of the nutrients in tomatoes, like cancer-fighting lycopene, aren’t readily absorbed unless paired with fat. The same is true for a number of different vitamins. Picking avocado means you’ll get all of those good-for-you benefits from the tomato as well as a dose of monounsaturated fats from the green fruit itself.
These two ingredients also happen to taste phenomenal together in tons of different recipes. A creamy gazpacho makes a great summer meal that’s refreshing, but still satisfying. If you’re more of a sandwich person, this gooey grilled cheese might become one of your new favorites.
The only downside is that it can be a challenge to find ripe avocados at the grocery store. When they’re all hard as a rock, consider some other options to lure those healthy nutrients out of the juicy red fruit. Olive oil will do the trick, and there’s no need to let it ripen for a week on the counter. Tomatoes taste really great with a sprinkle of salt and a drizzle of oil to make a phenomenal salad. Add a few herbs if you want to get fancy, but that’s really all you need.
2. Fish and Broccoli
Though Americans love their meat, that devotion doesn’t seem to carry over to the world of seafood. Many health professionals encourage people to work more fish into their diets since they offer up omega-3s and could reduce your risk of death by heart attack. There’s also a way to get even more out of that salmon fillet, and it’s probably already in your crisper. Rodale’s Organic Life reported consuming fish with broccoli can drastically reduce your risk of developing cancer compared to scarfing the seafood alone. The article explained that’s thanks to the sulforaphane found in the green veggie.
Eating these ingredients is not only easy, it’s also super tasty. Try this roasted supper with a salty and spicy dressing to seriously wake up your tastebuds. Salmon isn’t the only omega-3 superstar in the ocean, either. Sardines have similar nutritional benefits and offer a nice change of pace. Pasta lovers will have to keep themselves from licking the plate after a meal of spaghetti with broccoli and sardines.
3. Kale and Almonds
It’s a challenge to go to a restaurant without seeing at least one kale salad on the menu thanks to a growing fanbase. Bloomberg Business reported American farmers produced almost 60% more of the leafy green in 2012 than in 2007. While many happily munch away on a raw salad with just a slick of lemon juice, they’re not getting everything the veggie has to offer.
Kale is rich in vitamin K, which keeps our blood healthy, and vitamin E, which supports a healthy immune system. Both of these nutrients need a little something extra to find their way into our systems, though. Health recommended pairing kale with almonds to help absorb these key nutrients. While the article recommended topping a kale salad with a few slivers of the nut, there are a lot of other choices. This sautéed kale with yogurt has tons of flavor and a hearty texture that raw kale could never have. You can even go for an updated version of creamed spinach. Or, go the easy route and add a scoop of almond butter to your morning green juice.
4. Apples and Raspberries
When your sweet tooth comes calling, it might be time to toss together a fruit salad. You’ll get a sweet treat that’s full of flavor, fiber, and vitamins. According to Reader’s Digest, making one with apples and raspberries could also lower your cancer risk. The story explained the ellagic acid in the red fruit helps increase the cancer-fighting power of the quercetin found in apples. While you might be tempted to pop some pills to fill any deficiencies, consider that supplements are seriously lacking when you compare them to whole foods.
Fruit salad not your thing? There are plenty of other delicious ways to combine these fruits. An oat-topped crumble makes a delicious dessert that’s also really easy to put together. You could also bake up a fruit-flecked almond cake. Serve it to guests and they’ll have no clue that you had health in mind.
5. Whole Grains with Garlic or Onions
If you avoid garlic and onions because of the bad breath that ensues, you might want to reconsider. Eating Well explained that adding a little bit of allium to whole grains can help your body absorb more iron and zinc, likely because of the sulfur compounds. The story explained iron helps your body transport oxygen while zinc is crucial to maintaining a healthy immune system.
And that’s true for all whole grains, so the culinary options are pretty much endless. Woman’s Day suggested adding sliced onion to a whole wheat bagel or some caramelized onions to a bowl of brown rice. For an easy appetizer, make some roasted garlic to serve with a cheese board and some toasted whole grain bread. Cut the top off a few heads of garlic. Drizzle the exposed cloves with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then wrap in aluminum foil. Roast the garlic in a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven until the cloves are completely soft, 45 minutes to an hour. Once cool, add to the cheese board and dig in.