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Healthy Balance

Super Foods: 20 Nutritious Foods

If you’re like me, you spend a great deal of time and energy thinking about what you want to eat, what you think you should eat and even what you know you shouldn’t eat. And all the online diet plans, recipe tutorials, meal-planning guides and weight-loss tips can quickly get confusing.

This blog offers a variety of nutrition articles and recipe reviews, but we want to make healthy eating even easier. So here is a list of “super foods” – vitamins, nutrients, antioxidants, healthy fats and lean protein are all packed into 20 foods you should consider including in your diet.

Super Foods to the Rescue: A Visual Guide

So, what foods pack a nutrient-rich punch? Find out:

  • Mouse over each image below to learn which vitamins, nutrients, antioxidants, healthy fats and proteins each food contains.
  • Click the image to get recipe and serving ideas.
wheat pasta, flour and breadpile of legumestwo bottles of oilsalmon filet with herbspile of mixed nutspile of flaxseedavocadossweet potatoesmixed berriesassorted tomatoesorangeshoneydewglass and carafe of milkbowl of yogurteggsbowl of oatmeal with apple slicesspinachbroccoli and cauliflowerlima beanspieces of chocolate

Before You Start a New Diet

Proper eating habits are a key to a healthy lifestyle and avoiding serious medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, joint problems and even sleep apnea.

You should consult your primary care doctor to find out what foods are best for you depending on any medical conditions or allergies, or before beginning a weight-loss plan. To get started, find a doctor or make an appointment.

If you are considering weight-loss surgery, calculate your body mass index to see if you might be a candidate.

Recipes to Start With

Knowing which foods to eat as part of a balanced diet is great. However, if you’re like me, knowing how to prepare healthy foods and having easy go-to recipes can be even more important. So, to help you get started, here’s a look at recipes and meal ideas that incorporate these super foods.


Whole Wheat Pizza Dough


1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast

1 cup warm water

2 cups whole wheat flour

1/4 cup wheat germ

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon honey


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

2. In a large bowl combine flour, wheat germ and salt. Make a well in the middle and add honey and yeast mixture. Stir well to combine. Cover and set in a warm place to rise for a few minutes.

3. Roll dough on a floured pizza pan and poke a few holes in it with a fork. Bake in preheated oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until desired crispiness is achieved.


Soup: Throw black beans (or any kinds of bean you like) into a pot of chicken broth. Add chopped celery, onion, tomatoes. Cook until thickened.

Salad: Choose your favorite beans and toss it into your mixed salad. Add oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Sprinkle some feta cheese on top.

Chili: Place kidney beans, tomato juice, onions, celery, garlic, green pepper, chili powder and cooked ground beef into a large skillet. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

Hummus: Put garbanzo beans, olives, and garlic into a blender. Pour in olive oil and lemon juice; season with basil, cilantro, salt, and pepper. Cover and puree until smooth.


Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil Dressing

Ingredients (Make 10 oz)

1 sprig fresh oregano

1 sprig fresh thyme

1 cup olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper to taste


1. In a medium glass mixing bowl combine the oregano, thyme, oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.

2. Mix together and pour mixture into a bottle, using a funnel to keep from losing oil. Cover tightly and store at room temperature.


Maple Teriyaki Salmon

Ingredients (Make 4 servings)

1/3 cup apple juice

1/3 cup maple syrup

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons finely chopped onion

2 garlic cloves, minced

8 ounce salmon fillets


1. In a bowl, combine the first five ingredients. Remove 1/2 cup for basting; cover and refrigerate. Pour remaining marinade into a large re‐sealable plastic bag. Add salmon; seal bag and turn to coat. Refrigerate for 1‐3 hours.

2. Drain and discard marinade. Broil salmon 4‐in. from the heat for 5 minutes. Baste with reserved marinade. Broil 10 minutes longer or until fish flakes easily with fork, basting frequently.


Sweet and Spicy Almonds

Ingredients (Make 4 servings)

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 cups unblanched whole almonds


1. In a bowl, combine the first six ingredients. Add almonds; toss to coat.

2. Spread into a greased baking pan. Bake at 250 degrees F for 30 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Cool. Store in an airtight container.


Blueberry Flax Pancake

Ingredients (Make 4 servings)

1 1/2 cups dry pancake mix

1/2 cup flax seed meal

1 cup skim milk

2 eggs

1 cup fresh or thawed frozen blueberries


1. Set a nonstick skillet over medium heat.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together the pancake mix and flax seed meal. In a separate bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the milk and eggs. Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients, and stir just until moistened.

3. Spoon 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the hot skillet. Sprinkle with as many blueberries as desired. Cook until bubbles appear on the surface, then flip and cook until browned on the other side.


5‐Minute Guacamole

Ingredients (Make 6 servings)

1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and cubed

1 tablespoon salsa 1 clove garlic, peeled

1/4 teaspoon salt


1. In a food processor, combine all ingredients; cover and process until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl; serve immediately.


Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients (Make one 9”X13” pan)

10 sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered

1 cup orange juice

1 cup butter

3 tablespoons white sugar

2 cups marshmallows


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender but still firm, about 15 minutes. Drain, cool and mash.

2. Preheat oven broiler.

3. Mix mashed potatoes with orange juice, butter and sugar until smooth. Spread in a 9×13 inch baking dish. Cover with marshmallows.

4. Place dish under preheated broiler until marshmallows melt and turn brown, 5 to 10 minutes.


Blueberry Banana Muffin

Ingredients (Make 12 servings)

2 cups whole wheat flour

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups mashed bananas

4 egg whites

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup fresh blueberries


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 12 cup muffin pan.

2. In a large bowl, mix the whole wheat flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda. In a separate bowl, mix the bananas, egg whites, and vanilla extract.

3. Mix the banana mixture into the flour mixture until smooth. Fold in the blueberries. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pan.

4. Bake 16 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.


4 Easy Ways to Prepare Tomatoes

Salad: Slice the tomato and toss it into mixed salad. Add mozzarella cheese and drizzle olive oil on top.

Soup: Combine canned crushed tomatoes and chicken broth in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add basil and sugar. Stir in skim milk and butter.

Salsa: Mix chopped tomatoes, onions, chili peppers, cilantro, salt and lime juice together. Chill for one hour before serving.

Tomato Paste: Sauté garlic and onion in a large saucepan. Add 8 – 10 chopped whole tomatoes, several teaspoons of herbs and simmer for an hour. Season with salt, ground pepper and olive oil.


Mandarin Mixed Green Salad

Ingredients (Make 2 servings)

2 cups torn mixed salad greens

1/2 cup mandarin oranges

1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Citrus Vinaigrette:

3 tablespoons orange juice

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon reduced‐sodium soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon minced gingerroot

1 garlic clove, minced


1. Place greens on two serving plates; top with oranges and walnuts. In a blender, combine the vinaigrette ingredients; cover and process until blended. Drizzle over salads.


Cantaloupe Smoothie

Ingredients (Make 4 servings)

1/4 cantaloupe ‐ peeled, seeded and cubed

1/4 honeydew melon ‐ peeled, seeded and cubed

1 lime, juiced

2 tablespoons sugar

Directions 1. In a blender, combine cantaloupe, honeydew, lime juice and sugar. Blend until smooth. Pour into glasses and serve.


Strawberry Kiwi Milkshake

Ingredients (Make 8 servings)

4 cups sliced fresh strawberries

4 cups sliced kiwifruit

4 cups milk

4 cups vanilla ice cream

Directions 1. Place the strawberries, kiwi, milk, and ice cream in a blender (in batches, if necessary), and blend until smooth. Pour into tall cups, and enjoy.


Yogurt and Cucumber Dip

Ingredients (Make 16 servings)

1 (16 ounce) container low‐fat plain yogurt

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and grated

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste


1. Line a colander with two layers of cheesecloth and place it over a medium bowl. Place the yogurt on the cheesecloth and cover the colander with plastic wrap. Allow yogurt to drain overnight.

2. Lay grated cucumber on a plate lined with paper towel; allow to drain 1 to 2 hours.

3. Combine the drained yogurt, cucumber, garlic, parsley, mint, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.


Egg Salad

Ingredients (Make 4 servings)

8 eggs

1/2 cup fat‐free mayonnaise

1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard

1/4 cup chopped green onion

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 teaspoon paprika


1. Place egg in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Cover and let eggs stand in hot water for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from hot water, cool, peel and chop.

2. Place the chopped eggs in a bowl, and stir in the mayonnaise, mustard and green onion. Season with salt, pepper and paprika. Stir and serve on your favorite bread or crackers.


4 Easy Ways to Prepare Oats

Hot cereal: Put oats and skim milk in a pot and simmer until thickened. Add almonds, raisins and apple sauce (or other ingredients you like). You can cook a large pot and store it in the fridge. Reheat it in the morning for a quick breakfast.

Snack Bar: Mix together oats, cake mix, and melted margarine. Press 1/2 of the oats mixture evenly into a pan. In a separate bowl, mix jam with water, and spread over the crust. Sprinkle the remaining oat mixture evenly over the top. Bake for 20 minutes

Dessert: Use oat flour or substitute 1/2 of the flour with oats when baking cakes, cookies and bread.

Meatloaf: Mix ground turkey, rolled oats, eggs, onion and milk together with your hands. Season with balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and rosemary. Press it in a pan and bake for an hour.


4 Easy Ways to Prepare Spinach

Salad: Combine spinach, sliced strawberries, almonds in a large bowl. Add vinegar dressing and toss evenly.

Pasta: Layer lasagna with frozen chopped spinach, mozzarella cheese, ground meat and tomato sauce. Bake for an hour.

Casserole: Combine spinach, onion soup mix and sour cream. Spoon into greased casserole dish and top with cheese. Bake for 25 minutes.

Soup: Combine the spinach and chicken broth. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat to low. Stir in tortellini, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Season with basil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.


Cream of Broccoli

Ingredients (Make 3 servings)

1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped broccoli

1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup

1 1/4 cups milk 8 ounces processed cheese food (eg. Velveeta)

salt and pepper to taste


1. Prepare broccoli according to directions. Drain off excess water.

2. Add cream of mushroom soup and one can of milk to broccoli. Stir and heat thoroughly on low.

3. Add cheese, stirring until melted. Add salt and pepper to taste. Your quick and creamy soup is ready to serve.


Tofu and Shrimp Soup

Ingredients (Make 6 servings)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 (1/2 inch) piece fresh ginger root, minced

6 ounces raw small shrimp, shelled and deveined

1 quart chicken stock 8 ounces tofu, diced small

1/3 cup frozen peas, thawed

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon cornstarch


1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan or wok over high heat. Cook the garlic and ginger until fragrant and lightly browned.

2. Stir in the shrimp, and stir fry until cooked, then remove and set aside. Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil.

3. Reduce heat to medium, add the tofu and peas, season with salt and pepper, then return to a simmer.

4. Mix cornstarch with a little water to form a thin paste. Stir cornstarch into the soup and continue to simmer until clear and thickened, about 1 minute. Stir the shrimp back into the soup and serve.


Fluffy Hot Chocolate

Ingredients (Make 4 servings)

8 teaspoons sugar

4 teaspoons unsweetened baking cocoa

4 cups skim milk

1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. In a saucepan, combine the first four ingredients. Cook and stir over medium heat until the marshmallows are melted, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla. Ladle into mugs.

Hungry for More?

Check out our video series on heart-smart shopping at the grocery store.

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Interested in meeting with a UVA dietitian to learn more? Contact our Nutrition Counseling Center at 434.243.4749.

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