While we are wearing as few layers as possible, density sounds like something that will just weigh us down even more. But nutrient density is actually a light approach to eating, with a hefty benefit. Nutrient density is when foods have a higher nutrient content relative to their calories. It is a more efficient way of eating all you need, without needing to add “extra layers” so to speak. Sound cool 😎?
So what makes a nutrient-dense food? For starters, these foods are your least processed foods, meaning they are in their most natural state. Think of your fruits and vegetables heading to you straight from the farm. Yes, an obvious example of lower calorie foods, yet high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. But we can take them one more step. Pairing our produce with certain others types of foods will help in unlocking all of the nutrients within the food combination, increasing the nutritional value of your combination even further. Nutrient balance can provide optimal nutritional value. And cooking your meals at home, even in this heat, has been associated with nutrition resilience, defined as healthier diets at a lower cost. Think of it as if your free perk, is just for making healthy choices.
Here are some other tasty combinations to help you get the biggest bang for your buck, with the least amount of calories and yet a mighty amount of nutrients:
This zingy vinaigrette is a tasty, simple, versatile marinade or dressing, or the “secret ingredient” you can add to just about anything. Use as a marinade for chicken, fish, tofu, a dressing on your salad, your summer pasta salad, or a couple of tablespoons in your homemade summer hummus (see next recipe!)
2 small shallots, peeled and chopped
1 ½ cups fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup vegetable broth, low sodium
½ cup red wine vinegar
1 ½ Tablespoon honey
1–2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
freshly ground pepper and salt to taste
Combine the shallots through Dijon mustard in a blender. Puree until smooth. Taste and add freshly ground pepper and salt to taste. Makes just under 2 cups. Use about 1 cup to marinate about 4 servings of protein.
BEAT THE HEAT HUMMUS
The heat can be stifling at times, so creating those no-heat-needed meals is key for staying cool when you feel like a sweaty betty :). This hummus is a satisfying blend of quality tahini paste (Soom, my favorite brand, which I have previously mentioned), chickpeas of course, and adding a couple of tablespoons of the Summer Vinaigrette above, for a spectacular sizzle. Serve with fresh veggies and whole grain pita or crackers, or spread on your favorite wrap, add lots of veggies, and lunch or dinner is served.
3 15-ounce cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or prepared fresh)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced into quarters
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup premium tahini paste
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3/4 cup ice-cold water
2 Tablespoons Summer Vinaigrette
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Optional toppings: extra virgin olive oil, paprika, fresh parsley
Combine chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, tahini paste, and cumin in a blender or food processor and pulse to a dense purée. Remove lid and scrape the sides down a bit. Replace lid and remove middle cap. Turn blender or food processor to medium, slowly add the ice water continue to blend until smooth. Add the Summer Vinaigrette and continue to blend. Taste and add salt and pepper for the desired flavor. Place in a serving bowl or save in a closed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. When serving as a dip, suggest topping with extra virgin olive oil, paprika and fresh parsley.
SPICY CILANTRO LIME YOGURT MARINADE
This fresh and tangy marinade can be used for shrimp, chicken, fish, tofu, as a dressing for your favorite salad combination, or a sauce for a lean red meat on the barbecue. If using as a marinade, be sure to save extra to drizzle on top! It is a quick way to add some sweet, sour and spicy to your summer meals.
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
½ cup nonfat Greek yogurt, plain
4 limes, squeezed to make about 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2–3 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
Place cilantro leaves through hot pepper sauce in a blender. Blend until smooth. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.
COCONUT PINEAPPLE COCKTAIL
It is hard not to complete a blog about staying cool, making sure you are getting the nutrients your body needs, without a nutritious, hydrating cocktail🍸. A lighter take on the traditional piña colada. This could easily be made without alcohol as well. A tasty and fun way to end a meal, or to sip and enjoy while watching the sunset.
1 1/2 ounces rum
2 ounces light coconut milk
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup pineapple chunks, frozen
2–3 Tablespoons vanilla frozen yogurt
Place the rum through frozen yogurt in a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into a cocktail glass and garnish with a fresh pineapple slice. Makes 1 serving.
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The rebellious Rd.
As a longtime promoter of healthy cooking and eating, Amy's focus is on plant-based eating, with a rebellious twist - that she and no one, needs to be perfect.