‘Variety is the spice of life’, and nowhere is this more true then in our daily diet. Eating an array of options from many different foods helps maintain a healthy and interesting diet that provides more adequate nutrition.
Food variety means eating a wide variety of foods from within and across each of the food groups, in the amounts recommended. Eating a variety of foods can help prevent diseases such as diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Lack of familiarity with a food can easily become a barrier to trying it. To crossover boundaries imposed by cultural exposure, here are some items to expand your palate. Scan the list below for foods that are new to you, then read the description, and visit your local supermarket to discover just how remarkably available these foods are to add into your daily routine.
Asian Pear– Also called the 20th century Asian pear, or apple-pear, these light brown apple size fruits are a juicy sweet addition. They are very good source of vitamin C and fiber. Historically introduced to the United States by Oriental immigrants during the building of the railroads in the twentieth century to lessen risks associated with hunger and scurvy.
Barley– an excellent source of fiber with good amounts of B-Vitamins that is easy to add to soups and stews.
Bulgur– A wheat that is most nutritious in the whole-wheat form. Bulgur is a fantastic base for Tambouleh salad, and as a rice replacement.
Kale- A dark-green leafy vegetable with a cabbage-like taste, which is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and calcium. Cook it the same way as you would spinach – steam, stir-fry or in soup.
Kiwi Fruit- A green golf ball size fruit that has a brown fuzzy exterior skin. Small black edible seeds inside make kiwi a good source of fiber, as well as vitamin C and magnesium and potassium.
Miso- A paste made from fermented soybeans. Miso is a good source of antioxidants such as vitamin E, which is a creative flavoring for soups, sauces, and stir-fry.
Tempeh- A food made from fermented soybeans, it has a meaty texture and nutty favor. Tempeh is a low-fat source of protein, calcium, fiber, isoflavones, and natural estrogenlike compounds. Used as a meat substitute.
Textured Soy Protein– Another meat substitute often made from soybeans and spices which is usually crumbled into dishes as a ground meat alternative. Unlike ground meat however, textured soy protein does not require browning.
Tomatillo- A fruit that looks like a small, hard, green tomato, but with a parchment-like husk. It has a taste reminiscent of lemons, apples and herbs. Tomatillos are low in calories and provide fiber and potassium. Added them to salsa, salad, guacamole, and casseroles.
Tara Godfrey is a Nutritional Counsellor with the Canadian Society of Nutrition Management.