Super Power Foods

I frequently have publishers offer to send me new books to review.  Most of the time, I don’t follow-up.   But I was intrigued to learn more about “Power Foods” from the editors of Whole Living magazine, which is a Martha Stewart Living publication.

To be honest, I’m a bit conflicted about the current super foods phenomenon.  Must we really put some foods on a pedestal and ignore other just-as-worthy foods?  In my opinion, there’s not a vegetable, fruit, whole grain, bean, nut, seed, lowfat dairy or lean protein that doesn’t deserve a spot on a super foods (or power foods) list.

Even so, I  liked “Power Foods.”  I would much rather people buy a book like this to help them eat healthier or lose weight than to turn to one of the never-ending array of diet books on the market.  It comes down to eating more whole foods, more often, and that’s what this book is all about.  You’ll find 150 recipes that use what the authors say are the 38 healthiest ingredients –the power foods. The book’s promise:  boost your health, increase your energy and nourish your spirit.

The 38 Power Foods
:  artichokes, asparagus, avocados, beets, bell peppers, broccoli, brussels sprouts, carrots, kale, mushrooms, spinach, sweet potatoes,   swiss chard, tomatoes,winter squash
Fruits: apricots, berries, citrus, kiwifruits, papayas, pears
Grains and legumes: brown rice, oats, quinoa, dried beans, green peas, soybeans (edamame)
Nuts and seeds: almonds, pecans, pistachios,walnuts, flaxseed, pumpkin seeds
Eggs, yogurt and fish: eggs, yogurt, sablefish, rainbow trout, wild Alaskan salmon

There’s some great upfront background on each of the power foods, including health benefits, how to buy and preparation tips.  The recipes are well written, with just the amount of detail (you can tell there’s a seasoned test kitchen behind the development) and the food photography is stunning.  I was particularly pleased to see all the chickpea recipes.  I’m quite enamored with this humble legume – as you may know.  There are recipes for Chickpea Nibbles, Pita Sandwiches with Spinach-Chickpea Spread and  Hearty Spinach and Chickpea Soup, in addition to the two chickpea recipes below.  I couldn’t resist sharing these two Lebanese-inspired chickpea recipes:  Chickpea Fattoush, a version of one of my favorite Lebanese salads, and Sweet Potato Hummus, a Lebanese dip that gets a hit of orange hue and a wealth of beta carotene with the addition of pureed sweet potatoes.

Chickpea Fattoush

Fattoush_p._166_by_Christopher_Baker (Small)

1 whole-wheat pita (8-inch), split
12 cherry or small tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 red or yellow bell pepper (or half of each), ribs and seeds removed, cut into 1-inch strips
1/2 English cucumber, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/4 red onion, cut into thin wedges, or 2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced lengthwise
1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup torn fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup torn fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375 F. Place pita on a baking sheet and toast until crisp, about 10 minutes.  Let cool completely, then break into 1-inch pieces.  In a blow, combine tomatoes, pepper, cucumber, red onion, chickpeas, mint and parsley; toss to combine.  Add vinegar, oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste); season with pepper, and toss to combine.  Add toasted pita pieces, toss and serve.

per serving: 220 calories, 1.1 g saturated fat, 6.5 g unsaturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 30.4 g carbohydrates, 7.2 g protein, 390 mg sodium, 6.2 g fiber

Sweet Potato Hummus

Sweet_Potato_Hummus_Romulo_Yanes (Small)

1 pound sweet potatoes (about 2), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 to 2 lemons)
1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon hot or smoked paprika, for garnish

Fill a large pot with 2 inches of water, set a steamer basket (or colander) inside pot, and bring water to a boil.  Add sweet potatoes, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until potatoes are tender, 10 to 12 minutes.  Transfer potatoes to a food processor.  Add chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, oil, cumin and garlic.  Puree until smooth, about 1 minute; thin with up to 2 tablespoons of water if necessary.  Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt and season with pepper.  Let cool; refrigerate for up to 1 week in an airtight container.  Garnish with paprika before serving.

per 1/4 cup serving: 106 calories, 6 g saturated fat, 3.4 g unsaturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 14.8 g carbohydrate, 2.9 g protein, 151 mg sodium, 2.7 g fiber

Reprinted from the book Power Foods by the editors of Whole Living magazine.  Copyright © 2010.  Photographs copyright © 2010 by Christopher Baker/Romulo Yanes.  Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc.

I was provided a free book for review.

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