I used to be able to run for hours. No seriously, as a child my brother and I would play outside from our 3pm school dismissal until my mom called us in for 6:30pm family dinner. We were regular Energizer bunnies, legs always moving, feet always flying, no time for a break.
Flash forward some 15 years to freshmen year of college and that mobile and energetic little girl got replaced by a perpetually tired, rather slothy, extremely lazy 18 year old. I could chalk it up to the transition in lifestyles, or the massive amounts of school work, or the miserable winter climate. Or I could just be honest and confess, it all came down to diet.
Those first few months of college were not my finest in the whole healthy living scheme of things. Waffles smothered in peanut butter and whipped cream, dessert after breakfast, lunch, and dinner, late night pizza slices and too many diet sodas: guilty on all accounts, thank-you. I ate crap and as a result, I felt like crap. I had no energy, I was always groggy, and oddly enough for as much as I was eating, I felt perpetually hungry.
Now three years later, I am happy to report that I no longer eat like a crazed pregnant woman or an unmonitored five year old at a birthday party. I make consistently balanced meal choices and err on the side of nutritious more often than not. I suppose I look better, but more importantly I feel better. I have my spark back. I can dance circles around that 18 year-old me, and might even give mini-me a run for her money. The best part? My healthy diet plan doesn’t skimp in the flavor zone. As it turns out good for you foods can taste good too! Super foods work.
Here are a few of my favorite superfood staples and accompanying preparation ideas that deliver an abundance of nutrients and plenty of flavor:
**Super Foods to Add to Your Diet**
1. Sweet Potato. I love these orange beauties any which way but up. For a quick snack, a 5 minute zap in the microwave does the trick. I also enjoy cubing a couple sweet potatoes, sprinkling them with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, and popping them in the oven on 350°F for a good half hour–all the fun of a french fry with none of the negative side effects.
2. Kiwi. Not only is this fruit my favorite shade of green, but it is also extremely cheap and very portable. I enjoy this baby peeled and sliced with a sprinkle of cinnamon, or tossed in a bowl of cottage cheese. Try blending a few kiwi with a little milk and a handful of strawberries for a tropical smoothie snack.
3. Plain yogurt. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner taste better with yogurt. Throw a dollop into your smoothie or pile on the fruits and nuts and you have yourself breakfast. Top off a mixed veggie salad with a hearty dollop and your lunch just got tastier. Taco Tuesdays, you say? Swap the sour cream for some yogurt and enjoy a few of those tortilla chips you’ve been eyeing. Great for digestion and pleasing to your taste buds, yogurt, I love you.
4. Black Beans. I probably eat more beans than I’d publicly admit (ok, I guess I just admitted it). But they don’t call them the magical fruit for nothing. High in fiber, rich in protein, and heavy in flavor, black beans are one of those ultra-versatile food specimens. I enjoy them on their lonesome just as much as I like them incorporated into a dish. When I’m low on time, I just warm up a cup with some cayenne pepper, a dollop of salsa, and a sprinkle of cheese for a mini fiesta. I also sub in my legume friends in lieu of pulled pork or ground beef in my favorite Mexican recipes. And let us not forgot the great bean burger. Lovely legumes, holy yummy!
5. Berries. Ok, this fruit variety can be a tad pricey. But it’s so worth the extra buck or two. My green smoothies would be half as flavorful and nutrition-rich without my normal serving of blueberries. A handful of blackberries thrown into a cup of Greek yogurt rounds out my afternoon snack. Halved strawberries dusted in powdered sugar and coated in lemon juice, there isn’t a dessert I like much better.
Sarah Buchanan is a senior at NYU where she studies history and creative writing. When she is not planning her upcoming June wedding or daydreaming about her Antigua honeymoon, she is searching for the city’s best pickles!