Many people will be celebrating St. Patrick's Day by cooking up batches of corned beef and cabbage and splurging on snack foods dyed shockingly green. There's no need to choose high-calorie or artificial and processed foods to be festive. Try incorporating some of these fun and highly nutritious green foods into your St. Patrick's Day menu.
Packed with more vitamin C than an orange as well as many antioxidants and phytonutrients, kiwis help protect and repair the body from DNA damage, which can help prevent cancer. The potassium and polyphenols in the green flesh and seeds of these supersweet fruits are beneficial for blood vessels and the heart. For the maximum antioxidant potential and taste, consume kiwis when they are fully ripe. Kiwis can be peeled and cut into half-inch thick slices and added to fruit salads. For added flair, use small metal cookie cutters or a knife to cut kiwi slices into fun shapes like stars, hearts or shamrocks for St. Patrick's Day.
Pistachios are packed with fiber and protein and are one of the lowest-calorie, lowest-fat nuts, which makes them a great choice for weight management. They can be chopped up and used to create a tasty, nutrient-packed crust for chicken or fish. Toss these little green nuts into a fresh salad for extra crunch. Look for pistachios that are roasted and salted, with no added ingredients. They make a flavorful and nutritious snack for on the go and a healthier alternative to potato chips and many other packaged snack foods.
This well-known herb has some surprising health benefits. Naturally occurring chemicals found in mint are known to help open airways, making breathing easier for people with asthma, and may help relieve colds related to allergies. Peppermint oil can help relax the muscles around the intestines, helping to reduce symptoms of indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome. It is easy to incorporate mint into your daily diet. Add chopped mint leaves to yogurt to be served alongside a spicy dish. Mint pairs well with fresh fruit like oranges and melon, so it makes a great addition to fruit salads and fruit-based desserts like sorbet. Simply add fresh peppermint leaves to hot water for a delicious mint tea.
Edamame are immature soybeans and are full of fiber, protein, iron and folate. The nutritional benefits of soy are undeniable and vary from cancer prevention to the reduction of cholesterol levels. While there is a lot of soy in many foods found throughout the grocery store, edamame is soy in its most natural form. Edamame can be served alone as a snack with a tamari and ginger dipping sauce or provides a nice bite when added to a salad or wrap. Try mashed up edamame seasoned with lime and cayenne pepper for a tasty and high protein dip with a kick.
This member of the algae family is not just meant for sushi lovers. While edible seaweed contains vitamins A and C and is a good source of calcium, it provides a whopping dose of an important nutrient that is lacking in most other foods: iodine. Adequate iodine levels are necessary for the health and proper functioning of the thyroid. Science has shown that seaweed can help alleviate or prevent many health conditions such as depression, inflammation, arthritis and breast cancer. When it comes to the nutrition of this sea green, a little goes a long way. Try different varieties of seaweed such as kelp or hijiki added to rice and noodle dishes or munch on dried and seasoned nori seaweed as a crispy snack.
LeeAnn Weintraub, a registered dietitian, provides nutrition counseling and consulting to individuals, families and businesses, including Wonderful Pistachios. She can be reached at RD@halfacup.com.