It’s hard to watch a few minutes of TV without hearing about the best new superfood. In the last several years, we’ve seen it happen for salmon, kale, chia seeds, coconut oil, and açaí berries, just to name a small handful. In our quest to find the best eats to boost our health, we’ve completely forgotten about these seven nutrient-packed foods that once graced our kitchens.
In addition to keeping you feeling good, adding some of these old-school ingredients back to your diet can help shake up your meals with some different flavors. Need more reason to go for the less-glamorous side of superfoods? How about cost. Since demand is a lot lower for these foods than today’s trendiest healthy eats, you’ll also leave the grocery store with a fatter wallet. Get ready to taste a blast from the past.
Winter gourds like acorn and butternut squash get most of the love these days, but the humble zucchini deserves just as much attention. Terry Walters, a chef, nutritionist, and author of Clean Food, told Epicurious she loves the squash for its high levels of fiber, vitamin C, and magnesium. It’s also a stellar choice for anyone looking to shave off a few pounds, because an entire cup weighs in at just 20 calories.
Many people seem a bit unsure of what to do with zucchini, probably due to some bad experiences with overcooked, mushy preparations they had in the past. The squash is actually quite versatile, working in both raw and cooked preparations. It’s also really tasty when treated with a little bit of care. Zucchini really shines when grilled, so try this vibrant panzanella from chef Amanda Freitag, featured on The Daily Meal. If you’d rather go raw, this simple salad from The New York Times is particularly refreshing.
2. Cottage Cheese
In a tiny corner of the supermarket, between the sour cream and yogurt, is a shelf filled with cottage cheese that most people stroll right past. It used to be a favorite in the diet-conscious crowd, but somehow fell out of favor. It’s too bad, because this dairy is loaded with protein and casein to help build muscle as well as a number of vitamins. Though most people have been skeptical of the fat that comes from eating dairy for the past few decades, more recent research suggests it could actually be hugely beneficial. A 2014 review in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry linked dairy consumption to reduced risk of diabetes, obesity, cancer, and even tooth decay.
Cottage cheese is a great snack with nothing more than a grind of black pepper or a few sliced veggies, and it even comes in snack-sized portions. You also have plenty of options for jazzing it up. Treat it as you would yogurt by topping with some berries, a sprinkle of nuts, and a drizzle of honey. On the savory side, cottage cheese can be used for fillings, as a pizza topping, or as a dip. We like this cheesy spinach pasta from Food Network.
3. Turkey Breast
Aside from one decidedly unhealthy meal a year, turkey doesn’t spend much time on the dinner table. Why that’s the case is sort of a mystery, because the poultry is about as healthy as meat options get. According to Men’s Fitness, a 3-ounce portion contains 72 calories and plenty of selenium, B vitamins, and zinc. Surprisingly, it’s actually a bit leaner than chicken.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to buy a whole bird just to get your hands on some of the white meat. Most grocery stores regularly stock turkey breast in the freezer aisle. You’ll have to plan ahead to allow enough time for the meat to thaw before preparing it, though. Once you’re ready to cook, try this Mexican-inspired roast from Food & Wine. And don’t forget about ground turkey, which you can use just about anywhere you’d use ground beef.
While the myth about celery being a negative-calorie food didn’t turn out to be true, losing weight isn’t the only reason to load up on this overlooked veggie. This crisp green produce packs a good dose of vitamins K and C, plus folate, potassium, and fiber. The benefits don’t end there, either. A 2013 study from the University of Illinois found apigenin and luteolin, two types of flavanoids found in celery, were effective at killing pancreatic cancer cells.
Pairing this crunchy vegetable with wings is classic, but it sort of undermines the food’s healthy status. Keep the taste you love, but give it a fresher look by making Michael Symon’s Buffalo Chicken Kebabs with Celery Blue Cheese Salad. The veggie is also an easy addition to soups and braises. Don’t toss out the leafy tops either, because they’re packed with flavor. You can chop them up and use them as a garnish the same way you would with any type of soft herb.
This forgotten fruit is one of the most delicious purchases you can make it the produce department, and it’s also a lot less pricey than berries or tropical treats. Even apples get more attention than pears, though that might soon change for people who like to enjoy a few drinks. According to an Australian study published earlier this year, drinking Asian pear juice prior to a night of consuming alcohol can significantly ease hangover symptoms. The study was limited to Asian pears, so more research is needed to figure out if it applies to other varieties. Apart from the booze-soothing effects, pears are also loaded with fiber, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and K.
The fruit is great by itself, but it’s also a versatile ingredient that can add a burst of sweetness to a variety of dishes. Try a thyme-scented pork tenderloin with pears from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food or this pear and spinach salad from Cooking Light. You can also cook them into a sweet topping for pancakes or yogurt with a drizzle of lemon juice, little bit of sugar, and some grated ginger.
Hearty soups and Indian dishes using these legumes just don’t appeal to people the way they once did. Even beans get more love than lentils, partially thanks to hummus. It’s time to give this food a second look, because there’s a lot of good in that tiny package. According to Muscle & Fitness, lentils have the third highest protein level of any legume at 15 grams per cup. They’re also loaded with fiber, which is good for more than keeping you regular. A whole host of studies have suggested regularly eating grain legumes, including lentils, can reduce your risk of heart disease.
Lentils are great in any type of stew or soup, and their earthy flavor makes them great for fall and winter dishes. Try a vegetarian twist on shepherd’s pie from Bon Appétit or a curried salmon and lentil dish from BBC Good Food.
Many ancient cultures used garlic for medicinal purposes, turning to the cloves to treat everything fromdepression to an upset stomach. Though many traditional remedies have proved to be a bit silly, using garlic to boost health isn’t one of them. Regular garlic consumption has been linked to a reduced risk of quite a few different kinds of cancer, including colon, stomach, prostate, and pancreatic. To get the full health benefits, Eating Well suggested chopping the cloves and then letting them sit for about 10 minutes. This ensures the sulfur compounds get a chance to fully activate.
It’s almost impossible to find foods that don’t benefit from a little bit of added garlic. Toss a few chopped cloves into any of your favorite soups, stews, and stir fries. It also plays well with other bold ingredients, like ginger, soy, and vinegar.