A while back, TC wrote an article called The Magic 13. There he listed thirteen foods that have almost drug-like effects on human physiology:

Broccoli
Wild Salmon
Grass-Fed Beef
Walnuts
Olive Oil
Blueberries
Flaxseeds
Pumpkin
Spinach
Tomatoes
Turkey Breast
Yogurt
Shiitake Mushrooms

These foods can possibly make you healthier, help you live longer, and give you the nutrients you need to build your dream body.

TC's points about these foods were so persuasive that I wanted to start adding more of them to my daily intake. Since my main objective is to help add flavor and zest back into everyday boring diets, it just didn't sit right with me to eat plain spinach or a handful of walnuts.

Here are some easy recipe ideas for incorporating the first six power foods into your diet. Give them a try!

Broccoli

Yes, steamed broccoli is great, but many people are concerned with losing some of the precious nutrients to the cooking water. So here's a recipe that cooks the broccoli and then incorporates the cooking liquid right into the dish.

Pureed Broccoli Soup

Makes 4 portions

Ingredients

1 tsp olive oil
1 large onion
2 large cloves of garlic (chopped)
3 cups frozen or fresh broccoli
Water
4 Tbsp heavy cream or fat free creamer
Sea salt to taste
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Dried thyme

Method

  1. Cut onion into large chunks. Place olive oil into large heavy bottom pot and heat on medium. Cook onions in olive oil until soft and translucent (about seven minutes). Add garlic and cook approximately two more minutes until the garlic becomes fragrant.
  2. Cut broccoli into large chunks and cut off some of the tops (florets) and reserve for garnish (if desired). Place all the rest into the pot with the onions.
  3. Add the spices and some salt and pepper, and stir.
  4. Fill pot to just cover the ingredients with water. Simmer for approximately 25 minutes or until broccoli is fork tender.
  5. Puree in blender or with a hand blender until smooth. Add cream if desired and garnish with steamed broccoli florets.

* You could also include some basil pesto into this soup at the end. Chill and enjoy cold on a hot summer day.

Wild Salmon

Wild salmon is one of my favorite foods on the planet. Unfortunately, many people stay away from it because they aren't sure how to purchase it or cook it. One thing I've found is that I like it much better when I cook it very rare. It stays moist and has a nice fresh flavor.

When choosing wild salmon, make sure you go to a trusted fish monger/market and ask if it's been previously frozen. If it has been previously frozen, then you won't be able to re-freeze it. You can also get individually frozen portions of salmon that are of excellent quality. Most fish is frozen at sea and is just as fresh, if not fresher, than fish in the market.

When purchasing salmon, look for firm flesh and a bright color. It shouldn't be sticky or tacky in any way. If it has any smell at all it should smell of the sea, not "fishy." A fishy smell indicates that the fish is old.

Wild salmon has a richer color than farm raised and tends to be thinner and have less large grains of fat running through it. It also has a more intense flavor since it's not fed the feed; it eats what it would eat naturally.

Salmon can be purchased in a few different forms. The most popular forms are steaks and filets. Steaks are a cross section of the fish. It'll have the skin on and the center bone intact. It may possibly contain pin bones as well, so be careful while eating. Steaks tend to be great for grilling and broiling since the skin and center bone help to hold it together better than filets.

Filets are a piece of a side with the center bone and pin bones removed. It can come skin on or off. If the filets in the fish market have skin, you can ask to have it removed. Skin-on filets are great for pan searing and broiling as the skin helps hold them together. If you're doing a more delicate cooking method like poaching, you should get the filets with the skin removed.

Here's a simple recipe that can be made in large batches or even with leftovers from a night of partying with the wild salmon.

Fresh Salmon Salad with Lemon

Ingredients

1 lb salmon filets cooked rare and cooled (roasted, seared, grilled, or poached)
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 red onion sliced thin
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves (or fresh chopped basil)
Salt and add fresh ground black pepper to taste

Method

  1. Flake apart salmon into nice sized chunks and place in a medium sized bowl.
  2. Add halved cherry tomatoes and sliced onions and toss very lightly so you don't break up the flakes.
  3. Add lemon juice, zest, olive oil, fresh herbs, salt and pepper, and toss again.
  4. Let sit for about 10-20 minutes and taste again. Adjust with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Serve on top of arugula (rocket) or spring mix lettuce.

Grass Fed Beef

If you don't know the benefits of grass fed beef then you really need to read up on it. It's just about as good for you as eating wild salmon, but it can be a little pricy.

I'm not going to tell you how to cook a steak because everyone likes it their special way. What I am going to tell you about is some different cuts of meat that taste great and go light on the wallet. You may need to ask your butcher to order these special for you. Trust me, they're well worth your wait.

Flatiron  Also known as the top blade steak. This cut has become more and more popular in restaurants and mainstream stores. It might be the most economical piece of meat for the quality of the cut.

Flatiron comes from the chuck primal cut, from the blade roast area. Some say this is the tastiest cut of meat they've had for the price of hamburger. If you haven't had a chance to try it, you're seriously missing out.

Teres Major  Sometimes called the petit tender, this is another not-so-well-known cut of meat that has a very economical price point. The teres major is found in the shoulder area near the top blade.

The quality or tenderness factor of a certain cut of meat depends on how much use (exercise) it gets. The more exercise a particular muscle gets, the more tough it becomes. Because cows tend to not climb ladders or do any kind of rowing movements, the teres major stays very tender. It would be comparative in texture to the infamous tenderloin, although the flavor is still very deep like chuck or flank, not subtle.

Coulotte  Also referred to as top sirloin cap, this steak is cut from the top sirloin butt. It's the cap found on top of the butt cut at the natural seam. Coulotte is a boneless triangular shaped muscle that has the flavor that people love of the sirloin with the price point of a less expensive cut.

It's best if marinated or seasoned with a dry rub and then cooked with a dry heat method such as grilling or broiling. It's also great for stir fry or use for kabobs. At about 2 grams of fat per ounce and 8 grams of protein, you really can't go wrong with the coulotte steak or roast.

Tri-tip steak or roast  This comes from the primal loin, bottom sirloin butt. This is the portion of the bottom sirloin butt after removal of the flap and the ball tip. If you're ordering it from a butcher, ask for it defatted and you'll have virtually no waste and 100% yield.

On average, a tri-tip roast weighs anywhere from 1.5 to 3 pounds. Typically it's mechanically tenderized and vacuum packed and possibly wet-aged as well. The tri-tip has the same great flavor as a top sirloin with a much more economical price. They're great with rubs or marinades, excellent to roast, grill, or rotisserie.

Here's a rub recipe that would be great with just about any of the above cuts of beef.

Chili Spice Rub

Yield: 1 cup

Ingredients

2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp chili de arbol
2 tsp chipotle chili powder
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp garlic, granulated
2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp salt

Method

  1. In bowl, mix black pepper, chile de arbol, chipotle chili powder, thyme, paprika, garlic, cumin, and salt.
  2. Rub generously onto steaks and let sit for an hour or even overnight.
  3. Grill or broil to desired doneness.

Walnuts and Olive Oil

I'm combining these two super foods because the flavors complement each other very well. The combination of omega-3's from the walnuts and the monounsaturated fat from the olive oil are perfect together.

You'll need a food processor for this recipe, but it's worth making a large batch and storing it in the fridge. You can pour it onto your favorite steamed veggies or use it as a dressing for a sturdy salad.

Walnut Olive Oil Dressing

Ingredients

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 oz raw walnut halves
4 Tbsp champagne wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
1 shallot, minced
1 1/2 tsp Dijon-style mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Method

  1. Combine walnuts, shallot, mustard, salt and pepper in a small food processor. Puree until smooth.
  2. Add vinegar and puree again until incorporated.
  3. Drizzle in olive oil, in a steady stream until incorporated and dressing is smooth and creamy. Store unused portion in refrigerator.

Blueberries

My favorite method for eating blueberries is still in a smoothie with banana or vanilla Metabolic Drive®. It just has the perfect amount of sweetness and creaminess that complements the light tart flavor of blueberries.

If you'd like to try cooking something new with this nutritious food here's a super simple recipe to add to your repertoire. People won't know what hit them when they try these pork chops!

Blueberry Stuffed Pork Chops

Ingredients

4 inch-thick cut pork chops (1.5 inch thick works well for this recipe)
6 oz whole grain bread crumbs (see recipe below to make your own)*
1/2 pint fresh blueberries
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 eggs or 3 whites
1/4 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced

Method

  1. Cut a pocket into the pork chops so that they can be stuffed.
  2. Salt and pepper the inside of the pocket.
  3. Sauté the onion until translucent, then lightly sauté the garlic. Let the mixture cool enough to touch.
  4. Combine mixture in a bowl with blueberries, vanilla, and eggs.
  5. Stuff dressing tightly into the pocket of the pork. Lightly oil and salt and pepper the outside of the pork.
  6. Place in a hot pan (cast iron works best) for about 5 minutes on each side.
  7. Place pork chops on an oven tray (or directly into the oven if using a cast iron pan) and finish at 350 degrees for about 10-12 more minutes.

Whole Grain Breadcrumbs

Ingredients

1oz favorite whole grain bread

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Chop bread into manageable pieces and pulse in a food processor in small batches until desired consistency.
  3. Lay all the breadcrumbs out onto a sheet pan in a thick layer and toast in oven for about 7-12 minutes or until desired doneness.

Toasted breadcrumbs will soak up more of the flavors in your stuffing than the un-toasted version.

Flaxseeds

Here are some simple tips and ways to incorporate more flaxseed into your daily diet.

Flaxseed has a pleasant nutty flavor and combines well with just about anything.

Whole Flaxseed:  Add whole flaxseeds to your muffins, cookies, pancakes, or bread recipes. When sprinkled on top of any of these before baking, they add a nice crunchy texture and look nice when baked. When baking with flaxseeds the outside will tend to brown faster so keep a close eye on it.

Ground Flaxseed:  Ground flaxseed can be added to cooked soups, stews, or even cereals and drinks. To make your own ground flaxseeds, grind whole flaxseed in a coffee grinder or food processor until desired consistency.

Flaxseed Oil:  You can use flaxseed oil to replace other oils for dressings or dips. Many people compare the flavor of flaxseed oil to melted butter or toasted nuts. It can be used in the same ways as you would melted butter or extra virgin olive oil. Drizzle over cooked vegetables, brush onto cooked meats, or combine with other ingredients to make a very tasty salad dressing. Don't cook with it.

When purchasing flaxseed oil, make sure it's been kept refrigerated. Keep it refrigerated as it has a very low smoking point; it's very fragile and will get rancid if exposed to too much light, heat, or oxygen.

Here's a recipe for a flaxseed dressing that can be kept refrigerated for up to two weeks. It's especially great served over grilled broccoli, sautéed bitter greens like chard or kale, or even used as a salad dressing for your favorite lettuces.

Flaxseed Oil Dressing with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Fresh Basil

Ingredients

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
Boiling water
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup flaxseed oil

Method

  1. In a small bowl, add boiling water to cover sun-dried tomatoes, soak for 30 minutes. Drain.
  2. In a food processor, combine tomatoes, garlic, basil, vinegar, and flaxseed oil.
  3. Process until smooth and creamy.
  4. Drizzle over your cooked vegetables or use as a dressing or dip.

Wrap-Up

Never get tired of the same old diet. Add spice to your life with new ideas and flavors to keep you fit forever. Part two coming soon!