10 Scary-Looking Foods That Are Actually Great For You
Are you spooked out by some of the so-called “health” foods out there? Not sure whether they are tricks or treats? Don’t be scared! Here’s your guide to foods that look (and sometimes smell) scary, but are actually wonderful in terms of both taste and nutritional benefits. So before you pass over that celery root or turn up your nose at that seaweed salad, here are my favorite bewitching foods for a happy (and delicious) Halloween season.
Remember, processed, sugary and chemical-laden traditional Halloween candy is scary, so beware! Enter at your own risk!
Oh my gourd! Squash is filled with fiber, folate, beta-carotene and vitamin C, and it’s a very anti-inflammatory food high in antioxidants. Try roasting red kuri squash, kabocha squash, delicate squash or carnival squash in the oven, then stuffing with quinoa, rice or millet, plus some veggies for a hearty fall meal. Or, roast squash simply with some coconut oil, salt, pepper and cinnamon for a succulent sweet or savory treat any time of day. Purée squash and use to moisten healthy desserts, or simply eat it plain by the spoonful!
I know, I know — bananas with brown spotted skin just aren’t as appealing as their shiny yellow or green cousins. Appearances can be deceiving. A banana with brown skin may just be perfectly light yellow inside. Plus, more ripe bananas are actually much easier to digest. Bananas are wonderful comfort food as the colder weather rolls around, and are also great for an energy boost any time of day. Throw ripe bananas in smoothies, mash up to moisten healthy desserts, blend with avocado and chocolate for a delicious pudding or top with almond butter for a perfect energizing snack.
Our dear cruciferous vegetable is powerful anti-inflammatory plant medicine and, when it’s fermented in the form of sauerkraut, is also a powerful probiotic that aids digestion and balances gut microflora. Ferment your own veggies at home (it’s easy!), or buy them, but try to find fully raw and unpasteurized krauts or kimchis that don’t use vinegar.
While cacao avocado mousse may look like something one should be picking up with a pooper-scooper instead of ingesting, it’s actually one of the most delicious plant-based foods out there. It also happens to be packed with healthy fats, protein, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Blend an avocado, 1 heaping tablespoon of cacao powder, a pinch of vanilla, a pinch of cinnamon, a pinch of salt, 1 (pitted!) Medjool date, a few tablespoons of coconut water or nut milk and, optional but delicious, 1 teaspoon of mesquite powder. Blend together and serve in a small bowl topped with fresh berries, cacao nibs or goji berries or mulberries for a prettier presentation.
While green is definitely my favorite color, I know that the idea of drinking a big, tall glass of grass, isn’t so appealing to most people. Once you get used to the idea that you're indeed ingesting green liquid, green smoothies will change your life. Just blend some greens with banana or avocado; pear, apple or other seasonal fruits; liquid of choice; superfoods like maca, matcha, or protein powders; spices; and some almond butter, hemp seeds or spirulina for extra protein. Blend in a Vitamix or other blender.
Ginger And Turmeric
Turmeric and ginger are pretty ugly, but they’re true friends. They’re loyal and can help with pretty much any crisis, and they’re easy to spend a lot of time with. Grate fresh turmeric and add to lentils with spices and veggies for a curry in a hurry, blend with almond milk, dates or honey and cinnamon and warm over the stove for a warming, soothing drink, or add to juice for a bath of nutrients for your skin. Add fresh ginger to smoothies, sautée with fresh garlic, coconut oil and greens for a spicy side, or juice and add to lemon juice with cayenne for a tough tonic to boost immunity as the cold weather comes this fall.
Yes, chia pudding looks like a gelatinous mess. I too was once wary of the strange, tapioca-like slimy goo, too. But chia pudding is so delicious, so versatile and so nutritious so please, give it a chance! Chia seeds are packed with protein and omega-3 fatty acids, and are an amazing way to stay hydrated and energized for long periods of time.
You can buy chia pudding in most supermarkets today, or make your own by blending a couple of tablespoons of chia seeds with almond or other nut milk, superfood or protein powders of choice, some spices, sweetener and let soak for 15 minutes or overnight. Top with fruits, nuts, seeds or pretty much anything (healthy) you want!
Sometimes it’s green, sometimes it’s black, sometimes it’s shaped like tiny little worms, and sometimes it’s just plain weird looking. Seaweed may look — and smell! — fishy, but it’s one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. It’s packed with iodine so it’s great for regulating thyroid function and is an excellent source of protein, vitamins and minerals. Roll up some brown rice or avocado and veggies in nori sheets, add dulse to any salad for a rich, salty flavor or cook your beans in kombu to make them more digestible.
Yes, it happens. Those aspirations for smoothie greatness complete with beautiful berries, succulent spinach leaves, freshly made almond milk and expensive superfoods destroyed in a matter of seconds by your blender. The mélange of colors and that cacao powder you just had to add at the last minute have combined to produce… well, an ostensibly gross, brown mess.
Have no fear! Take a sip and remember that your drink is still delicious and nutrient dense. Not satisfied with that? Add some spirulina or matcha powder to reinforce the green color, or add acai to make a purple drink. Or add red berries or fresh beet juice or grated beets until the drink becomes pretty in pink. Mango, carrots or orange juice will also add an orange tint. And, if you really want to be fancy, serve in a martini or wine glass! Cheers!
Do you seriously expect me to cut open this prickly green plant, slather this gooey gel all over my body and then pour some into a glass and drink it? Yes, I do. Aloe vera is such an amazing superfood for so many reasons. It’s a great way to reinforce the intestinal lining and ease digestion, so add some fresh aloe vera gel into a juice or smoothie; or, even better, mix with water and a splash of lemon juice before meals. Slather the interior of the leaves with the gel on your face and body for the world’s best moisturizer or use to treat skin irritations, scars or burns naturally.
Rebecca Leffler is an author, journalist and consultant who, after a long career in entertainment as France Correspondent for The Hollywood Reporter and film critic on French TV network Canal , has traded the red carpets of Paris for the green streets of New York. Rebecca hosts "Green, Clean, and Chic" events in New York and Paris on both a public and corporate level and is an expert in branded entertainment and communication for wellness brands. Her best-selling French book "Green, Glam & Gourmande" has been translated to Spanish and Dutch and the English-language adaptation "Très Green, Très Clean, Très Chic: Eat (and live) the New French Way with Plant-based, Gluten-free Recipes for Every Season".