Cut Some Slack

01/06/2014 2:47 PM

01/06/2014 2:58 PM

Eating quality food is perhaps the most important step you can take to improve your health. Thankfully, a healthy diet doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. The key is to make high-quality, nutrient-rich staples—often referred to as “super foods”—a key part of every meal, says Jennifer Manley, a nutritionist and co-owner of Lake Norman Nutrition Associates in Huntersville. “Most super foods help reduce inflammation and keep your blood from being acidic, which are the two primary causes of most chronic diseases in our society today,” she says. The great news is that super foods are not only good for you, they can be tasty as well—especially when prepared correctly. Below a few Lake Norman restaurants share some of their favorite recipes using super foods, all of which you can easily make at home.

Sangam’s Dal Makhani Sangam is a family-owned Indian restaurant that incorporates super foods like lentils and tomatoes (fun fact: tomatoes are actually healthier after they’ve been cooked) into their dishes, including this authentic recipe.

Ingredients 1 cup black whole urad dal (lentils) 1/4 cup rajma (kidney beans) 1/2 cup of tomato puree 1 teaspoon chopped ginger 1 teaspoon chopped garlic 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder 1 teaspoon red chilie powder 2 teaspoons coriander powder 1 teaspoon garam masala 1/2 cup milk or cream 1-2 tablespoons of butter 1/2 teaspoon of sugar Salt to taste 3 1/2 cups of water 2 teaspoons Ghee (or butter) 1 teaspoon of jerera (cumin seeds) 1 bay leaf

Directions Clean, wash, and soak the urad dal and rajma for 5 to 7 hours. Drain the water and set aside beans. In the meantime, switch on the crockpot and keep it ready. Heat a heavy-bottomed pan, add the lentils, 3 1/2 cups of water, salt, and bring it to a rolling boil. Transfer the lentils and water to the crockpot, set the temperature to high for 4 hours. Heat a pan with ghee (butter), add cumin seeds and bay leaves. After the seeds change color and are fragrant, add ginger, garlic paste and tomato purée. Sauté this for 2 minutes. Add coriander powder, red chilie powder, turmeric powder and fry for another 2 minutes. Transfer the pan contents to the crockpot, add salt and mix it well with a spoon. Cook it on high for about 30 minutes. Add garam masala, milk, and sugar to the crockpot, mix well with a spoon, and cook it for another 20 minutes, and serve.

Alton’s Kitchen & Cocktails’ Grilled Onions and Kale One of Alton’s most popular and healthiest side dishes is also one of the simplest to make. The key is to grill or broil the onions until they are beyond caramelized—not quite burnt, but close—which adds a delicious, almost meaty flavor to the greens.

Ingredients 1/2 large sweet yellow onion, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch slices (leave rings intact) 8 cups chopped greens (preferably kale) 1 tablespoon olive oil 1/4 cup grilled onion pieces 2 cups blanched greens Kosher or sea salt and pepper to taste 1 tablespoon butter 1/2 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

Directions Grill Onions: Brush onion slices with olive oil and grill or broil, whole, over high heat until almost charred. Place into a bowl and set aside. When cool enough to handle, separate onion into rings and cut into 1-inch pieces. Set aside. Blanch the greens: Bring a pot of salted water to boil and drop in greens. Boil for just 30 seconds, drain off water, and run under cold water to stop cooking process. Grilling the onions and blanching the greens can be done up to one day ahead and held in the refrigerator. To serve: Set sauté pan over high heat and pour in olive oil. When the oil is very hot, but not smoking, add in grilled onions and sauté until they sizzle, then add the blanched greens, salt, and pepper. Cook very briefly, until the greens are hot. Add butter and sauté until the butter is melted, then immediately remove from heat. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and serve.

Carrburritos’ Sweet Potato Tostada Carrburritos in Davidson gives select Mexican dishes an extra healthy zing with sweet potatoes, which are sometimes used to fill or top such favorites as burritos, tacos, nachos, and tostadas. And the accompanying fruit salsa is a nutrient-packed bonus.

Ingredients 1 Pineapple 1/2 cup chopped red onion 1 ripe tomato 1/2 jalapeno, roughly chopped 1/3 Bunch cilantro 2 ounces Mango juice 2-3 dashes Tapatio (hot sauce) Pinch salt Pinch pepper 1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice

Directions Frutas Salsa: Remove pineapple rind and core. Chop 1/3 in a Cuisinart into very fine pieces, and dice the rest by hand. Finely hand-dice the red onion, tomato, jalapeno, and cilantro. Place ingredients in a large mixing bowl and add mango juice, Tapatio, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Stir and refrigerate until ready to serve. Use as salsa to top grilled salmon, chicken or sweet potato tostada.

Sweet Potato: Peel and chop sweet potatoes into cubes. Bring a large pot of water to boil, and add in sweet potatoes. Bring back to the boil and cook for about 20 minutes, until the cubes are very soft. Drain well and mash with butter, chopped cilantro, and salt to taste. Use as a filling for burritos and tacos or a topping for nachos, tostada, or taco salad.

The Dynamic Dozen These 12 easy-to-find super foods will help you ward off heart disease, cancer, cholesterol, and more. Avocados: This tropical fruit contains cholesterol-lowering phytonutrients, cancer-protective glutathione, high potassium, folate, B6, and fiber. Blueberries: This antioxidant-packed fruit has cancer-fighting properties, is high in vitamin C, and helps boost brain health and vision. Brazil Nuts: Packed with selenium, just two Brazil nuts a day help repair and boost immunity. Chickpeas: These little beans are packed with fiber, vitamins, and protein, and help regulate blood sugar and keep you regular. Eggs: The often-misunderstood egg is rich in 13 essential vitamins and minerals, and contains high-quality protein, antioxidants, and the brain-boosting nutrient choline. Flaxseed: A notable source of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and lignans, which help block hormone-related cancer. Kale: This dark leafy vegetable has the highest antioxidant power of all veggies, along with extremely high levels of vitamins K, A, and C, and, per calorie, more iron than beef and calcium than milk. Kiwi: One of most nutrient-dense fruits, the kiwi has more potassium than a banana and two times the vitamin C of an orange. Lentils: Contains heart-protective folate and fiber and is a good source of protein and iron. Quinoa: This gluten-free seed has high concentrations of anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, as well as protein, iron, and calcium. Salmon: An excellent source of protein, vitamin D, and omega 3-fatty acids, all of which help in the absorption of calcium, protects against cancer, and boosts brain function. Tomatoes: High in hycopene, which combats prostate cancer, heart disease, and bone loss.

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