The top 10 feel-good foods

Add these ingredients to your life for more energy and well-being in the coming year.






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Publication: Sunset
Author: Dean, Stephanie
Date published: January 1, 2010

1 Fresh sardines

THE NEWS As fish shops expand their sustainable-seafood choices, you'll see more of this strongflavored, delicious little fish, caught in well-managed West Coast fisheries. FEEL-GOOD FACTORS Sardines abound in omega- 3 fatty acids. Also, because they're little, they don't accumulate mercury the way that larger fish can. WAYS TO TRY THEM Marinate in olive oil with chiles and herbs, then grill. Marinate as above but skip the chiles; then lay over sliced tomatoes on baguette slices, drizzle with marinade, and broil. Dip in beaten egg, then in seasoned panko (crunchy Japanese-style bread crumbs) and bake.

Sicilian-style pan-fried sardines

Vinegar adds a mouthwatering acidity that balances the oiliness of the fish - and, in pre-refrigeration days, helped preserve it.

Pan-fry flour-dusted sardines briefly in olive oil, then layer in a dish with caramelized vinegared onions and toasted pine nuts. Marinate at least an hour and serve at room temperature, sprinkled with parsley. FOR THE RECIPE, SEE sunset.com/feel-good

2 BLUE CORN

THE NEWS Sweet, flavorful blue com is a staple in the Southwest, but for many of us it's still waiting to be discovered (apart from blue-corn tortilla chips) . FEEL-GOOD FACTORS Blue-corn tortillas have 20 percent more protein than white-corn ones, and often have more zinc and iron too. The corn's blue anthocyanin is an antioxidant. WAYS TO TRY IT Mix a 50-50 ratio of blue-corn flour and allpurpose flour m pancakes; try the commeal in muffins. Use the tortillas for tacos (or huevos rancheros-see page 77).

3 ARTISANAL TOFU

THE News Fresh, flavorful handmade tofu puts the bigbrand stuff to shame. Look for it at farmers' markets and natural-foods stores. FEEL-GOOD FACTORS It has no preservatives and doesn't use genetically modified soybeans. Proteinrich and low-fat, artisanal tofu is a great alternative to meat when eaten in moderation-up to 1 cup daily (it acts like weak estrogen, so avoiding big helpings may be wisest). WAYS TO TRY IT Drizzle soft tofu with soy sauce; top with green onion and grated ginger Add firm tofu to stews, or marinate in soy, chile, ginger, and garlic; grill.

4 Hazelnut butter

THE NEWS Move over, peanut butter. One of our favorite Western nuts is now available in spreadable form. FEEL-GOOD FACTORS Especially high in good-for-you monounsaturated fats, hazelnuts can help lower your LDL ("bad") cholesterol. They're also high in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant. WAYS TO TRY IT Use hazelnut butter in our muffins (right) or spread it on a sandwich or apple slices.

FOR THE RECIPE, see sunset.com/ feel-good

5 CHIOGGIA BEETS

THE NEWS Still found mainly in farmers' markets but starting to show up in specialty grocery stores, these red-and-whitestriped roots are sweeter than other beets-and so beautiful, they might win over any beet doubters. FEEL-GOOD FACTORS Beets have lots of fiber, potassium, iron, and folic acid, a B vitamin. Betacyanin, the pigment that gives beets their color, is a powerful antioxidant. WAYS TO TRY THEM Sauté the greens. Roast beets until just tender,- cut up for salads (they're great with avocados). Slice raw beets paper-thin; add to soup.

6 AMERICAN KIWI

THE NEWS This small, tart-sweet, fuzzy green fruit, long identified with New Zealand, is now being grown in the United States, particularly California (you'll even see it at farmers' markets). FEEL-GOOD FACTORS With more Vitamin C than an orange, more potassium than a banana, and high amounts of fiber, a serving of two kiwis packs quite a health punch. New research also suggests a high Vitamin E content-uncommon in fruits. WAYS TO TRY IT Sure, it's tasty in fruit salad, but give it a whirl in smoothies, fruit salsas, and green salads too.

7 Sea vegetables

THE NEWS Many types of dried seaweed, each with its own distinctive flavor and texture, sit neatly packaged on grocery store shelves: dulse, wakame, hijiki, kombu, nori. FEELGOOD FACTORS In general, sea vegetables are an incredibly rich source of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins A and E and iodine. WAYS TO TRY THEM Simmer in chicken stock for a haunting, briny flavor. Scatter snipped nori and toasted sesame seeds over steamed white or brown rice. Wrap seafood salad in a nori cone; spoon salmon caviar into the top.

Potatoes with sea vegetables

Try using more than one kind of seaweed with these potatoes. We particularly like chewy-tender dulse (shown here) and spinach-like wakame.

Saute sliced onion with chopped garlic cloves and dried dulse, torn into pieces. Add simmered cut-up potatoes (and simmered wakame, if you're using it) and heat gently to meld the flavors. FOR THE RECIPE, see sunset.com/feel-good

8 QUINOA

THE NEWS It's popping up on restaurant menus across the country. A tiny tasty seed (not a grain) native to the Andes, quinoa is now a major crop in Colorado. FEEL-GOOD FACTORS Quinoa is a good source of protein and fiber, and it's gluten-free. Plus it comes in white, red, and black-so you can make a healthy dinner that's beautiful too. WAYS TO TRY IT Quinoa cooks very quickly (15 minutes) and is a great substitute for rice (it even cooks well in a rice cooker). Use it in pilafs or as a bed for stew.

9 Bison

THE NEWS Bison used to come ground only - if you could find it at all. Now you can savor its subtle yet rich flavor in everything from steaks to roasts, available at well-stocked grocery stores. FEEL-GOOD FACTORS It's leaner than beef and usually grass-fed (which is better for the animal and, since you're eating healthier meat, you too). WAYS TO TRY IT Substitute it for beef in your favorite recipes, but reduce the cooking time and cook to rare or medium-rare. (Because bison is so lean, it cooks very quickly; fat slows down cooking.) Bison burgers, chilis, and steaks are all excellent.

Roast bison with velvety pan gravy

Considering how imposing bison look, their meat is surprisingly mild-tasting - more delicate than beef.

Rub a 3-lb. buffalo sirloin tip roast (available at Wholefoods Market and by request from your butcher) with olive oil and a paprika-garlic spice rub, then brown it in more oil and roast till medium rare. Slice and serve with a gravy made from the drippings. FOR THE RECIPE, SEE sunset.com/feel-good

10 SCARLET RUNNER BEANS

THE NEWS These big, gorgeous, crimson-and-black heirloom beans are showing up more often in grocery stores and farmers' markets-usually dried. FEEL-GOOD FACTORS Packed with soluble fiber (which helps lower cholesterol), scarlet runners are also a fine source of protein. WAYS TO TRY THEM Add sautéed garlic, onions, and herbs to cooked beans and eat as a side dish, or spoon them over whole-wheat pasta, with a bit of parmesan grated on top.

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