You sip a mug of green tea with breakfast every morning, snack on oranges and almonds at work, and eat a skinless chicken breast, brown rice, and steamed broccoli for dinner most nights. So, how do you fare nutritionally? Amazingly well—you're a model eater. But before you fire up the rice cooker again, know that your repertoire of tried-and-true foods may be compromising your health and your waistline. "Not eating a wide selection of foods deprives you of certain nutrients," says Molly Kimball, R.D., a nutritionist at the Ochsner Clinic's Elmwood Fitness Center in New Orleans.
And eventually you'll likely grow weary of your menu mainstays, which will make that order of chili-cheese fries even harder to resist. To cover all your nutritional bases—and invigorate your taste buds—swap some of your old favorites for these eight power foods. This new list of superfoods will have you feeling—and looking—better in no time.
BEEN THERE Broccoli
DO THIS Broccoli Rabe
Broccoli rabe has the same green florets and name as broccoli, but it's an entirely different vegetable. Popular in Italy (where it's called rapini), this dark leafy green has a slightly bitter taste. It contains a quarter of the calories of its cruciferous cousin—only nine per cup—and twice the amount of vitamin A. Talk about a superfood. "Broccoli rabe is also a good source of folate, vitamin K, and beta-carotene," says Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., author of The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth. And, like broccoli, it's high in sulforaphanes, compounds found to have a protective effect against stomach, lung and breast cancers.
SERVING TIP Rabe with smaller leaves has a milder taste than its larger-leaved counterparts. Blanch in salted boiling water for 30 seconds, then transfer to a bowl of ice water. Remove and pat dry. To cook, saut? a clove of crushed garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add 4 cups of broccoli rabe and cook until heated through, or about 5 minutes. Toss with whole-wheat pasta, finely chopped figs, and toasted pine nuts.
BEEN THERE Brown Rice
DO THIS Amaranth
The ancient Aztecs believed that eating amaranth could give them superpowers, and for good reason: This nutty-tasting grain is one of the only non-meat sources of all nine essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein. The body uses these amino acids to create muscle. Plus, for about the same number of calories as brown rice, you get nearly double the protein and three times as much fiber. "Amaranth is also high in many nutrients that women need, like iron, zinc, and calcium," says Lorna Sass, author of Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way.
SERVING TIP "Amaranth isn't a true grain, but its tiny seeds cook into a fluffy pilaf or polenta-like porridge," says Sass. She recommends boiling 1 cup of amaranth with 1 3/4 cups water, covered, for about 9 minutes, or until water is absorbed. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Add a little olive oil, minced parsley, and finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes. (To make porridge, simmer for 20 minutes with 3 cups of water and a pinch of cinnamon.) Popped amaranth also makes a satisfying low-calorie snack: Heat 2 tablespoons in a skillet over high temperature and stir until most of the grains have popped into puffy kernels. Season with sugar and cinnamon.