YONKERS, N.Y. (PRNewswire) — Let's face it, many of the most healthful foods – bitter vegetables, long-cooking beans, and squishy tofu – can be a tough sell. The March 2012 issue of ShopSmart magazine, from the publisher of Consumer Reports, gives your grocery list a makeover with 12 healthy foods that help you get nutrients in unexpected ways from foods like chips, pasta, and even dips.
"There are always new grocery store items coming out, but with so much choice, it can be easy to fall into a routine of buying the same items over and over again," said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart. "We scoured the shelves to find the best new foods to add to your list that will not only kick your meals up a notch, but give you and your family a healthy dose of vitamins and other nutrients as well."
Kale and kale chips
Why buy them: Kale is one of the most healthful vegetables around – low in calories, high in fiber, and packed with vitamins A, C, and K. Fresh kale is available year-round. Or pay a little more for the convenience of having a bag of recipe-ready kale pieces on hand to toss into soups, pasta dishes, and stir-fries. If kale is a hard sell in your house, try making crunchy kale chips.
Approximate price: $1.79 per 1-pound bunch, $6 per 2.2-ounce bag of chips
Calories and fat: 34 calories and 0 grams of fat per cup of chopped kale, 100 calories and 5 grams of fat per ¾-ounce serving of chips
Quinoa pasta and flakes
Why buy them: They've got everything regular quinoa has going for it – more and better quality protein than other grains or seeds, plus lots of fiber – but in tasty new forms. Quinoa flakes can be zapped in the microwave and eaten hot like oatmeal. Or use them in baked goods instead of oats. Quinoa pasta is higher in fiber, protein, and iron than regular pasta. It's also gluten-free and is not as grainy as whole-wheat pasta.
Approximate price: $2.59 per 8 ounces of pasta, $6.99 per 12 ounces of flakes
Calories and fat: 180 calories and 2 grams of fat per 2 ounces of pasta, 131 calories and 2 grams of fat per 1/3 cup of flakes
Why buy it: All beans are packed with cholesterol-lowering fiber, protective plant chemicals called phytonutrients, and protein. Recent studies have found that they also help combat insulin resistance and chronic inflammation – two conditions associated with weight gain and obesity. But if you don't have the time to cook up a pot of beans, buy bean dip and use it as a sandwich spread or a side dish, or in a casserole.
Approximate price: $3.35 per 9-ounce package (we chose Emerald Valley Kitchen Organic 3-Bean Dip)
Calories and fat: 35 calories and 0 grams of fat per 2 tablespoons
Why buy it: Anchovies are a top-notch source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. And because of their tiny, edible bones, they're a good source of calcium, too. If you'd rather not deal with the slimy critters, anchovy paste will give you some of the same nutritional benefits. Just a squirt of it in soups, pasta sauces, and dips will add a touch of savory (but not fishy) flavor.
Approximate price: $3.69 per 2-ounce tube
Calories and fat: 40 calories and 3.5 grams of fat per tablespoon
Dry-roasted soy nuts
Why buy them: Tofu not for you? Try getting a soy fix with roasted soy nuts – crunchy little legumes (they're not actually nuts) that have a pleasing toasted flavor. Soy nuts are highly nutritious: A serving has about half the fat and twice the protein of the same amount of peanuts.
Approximate price: $2.99 to $10.99 per 1-pound bag
Calories and fat: 195 calories and 9 grams of fat per ¼ cup
About Consumer Reports: Consumer Reports is the world's largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website, and other publications. Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.
About ShopSmart magazine: Launched in Fall 2006 by Consumer Reports, ShopSmart draws upon the publication's celebrated tradition of accepting no advertisements and providing unbiased product reviews. ShopSmart features product reviews, shopping tips on how to get the most out of products and "best of the best" lists. It's ideal for busy shoppers who place a premium on time. ShopSmart has a newsstand price of $4.99 and is available nationwide at major retailers including Barnes & Noble, Wal-Mart, Borders, Kroger, Safeway and Publix. ShopSmart is available by subscription at www.ShopSmartmag.org.