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Must-Have Foods in the New Year

By Alana Sugar, January 11, 2010  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Alana Sugar
Have you noticed that everyone is putting out lists of Top Ten This and Top Ten That? I was feeling a bit left out so I decided to use my soapbox here to share my Top Ten Must-Have Foods. While it's true there are plenty of great foods available that offer a wide tabouleh range of health benefits, I have ten favorites for great taste and nutrition. If these aren't part of your repertoire now, try adding at least one a month during the new year.


This little seed has the highest protein content of any other grain. Since quinoa contains all eight essential amino acids, it's considered a complete protein. It also delivers fiber, iron, magnesium, calcium and vitamins A and E. Try the red variety for wonderful nutty flavor!

Wild Salmon

An excellent choice for quality protein and heart-healthy Omega 3 fatty acids. My favorite: the easy to find, affordable Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon in the freezer section of our seafood case.


kale_ovenroasted"Green" has so many meanings these days. At the top of my list: Kale! If it's not on your list, you're missing out on its powerful antioxidants, iron, calcium, Vitamin K and fiber- not to mention great taste. Here's a favorite recipe to prove it: Oven Roasted Kale.


Life without nuts like almonds, cashews, walnuts and macadamia nuts is unimaginable for me! Go for variety and you'll be getting Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, vitamin E and fiber. Nuts help fill you up and may help keep your cholesterol levels healthy.


Full of antioxidants, these little seeds pack flavor and a powerful health punch. Drinking pomegranate juice daily is a great step towards keeping your cardiovascular system and your arteries in tip-top shape.

Beans and Lentils

black_bean_burgersFamous for their high soluble fiber content, beans are an important plant-based source of protein. They deliver B vitamins such as folic acid, and minerals such as magnesium, potassium, calcium and iron. The complex sugars in beans can make these guys difficult to digest, so remember to soak them overnight before cooking. Here's our Guide to Beans and a delicious black bean burger recipe.


Packed with monounsaturated fat (that's a "good" one), this delicious fruit gets high marks for 2010! It's versatile: stuff it in a sandwich, eat it sliced with grapefruit, mash it into guacamole, add it to a salad, or just enjoy it plain.

Grass-Fed Lean Meat

When cattle are raised solely on pasture with grass and other forage (their natural diet), the quality of the meat is better and better for you. You get protein, B-vitamins, zinc and easily-absorbed iron. And because it's grass-fed, you get a more favorable ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids and a higher amount of Conjugated Fatty Acids.


blueberrysauceGood for your brain, eyes and vascular system (and good tasting too!), blueberries deliver powerful antioxidants that are particularly protective to your cells. They are low in calories and high in fiber. Don't eat enough? Throw them in a smoothie, toss onto a salad or try this recipe for Blueberry Pomegranate Sauce.

Cultured Foods

There are hundreds of different species of friendly bacteria called probiotics that colonize our digestive track and compete with undesirable flora. Foods that contain probiotics contain live cultures. That includes yogurt, kefir, naturally fermented sauerkraut and pickles, miso, and tempeh to name a few. Including high probiotic foods in your daily menu plan helps insure good gut health while adding zest and flavor to your meals and snacks. Nothing can be more important when it comes to good nutrition than basing a diet on whole, real food. While this list is by no means complete, it represents a sampling of healthy foods that are native to many cultures around the world. If you have your own special "super foods" that you can't do without, I would love to hear about them.




Angela M says ...
Antixidants are found in the cocoa bean itself...not the processed chocolate bar.
01/21/2010 8:51:54 PM CST
Meg says ...
I love to shop at Whole Foods and more often than not, I like to pick up the free magazines on my way out to learn about the advantages of foods I don't eat, but should. Now, I am in the habit of checking the web site for recipes and recommendations and adjust my grocery shopping accordingly.
01/23/2010 11:25:45 PM CST
Theresa says ...
I plan to eat a better VEGAN diet. Been a vegan for over 10 years. Just bought the cookbook 'the conscious cook'. would love for Whole Foods to sponser me in my resolution to cook through this cookbook this year. Can you offer me discounts and sponser me?
01/24/2010 8:25:22 AM CST
Alana says ...
I can't live without dark leafy greens, bananas, and low fat milk. Now I'm looking forward adding more blueberries and beans to my diet, and trying quinoa.
01/13/2010 8:34:32 AM CST
elyse eisenberg says ...
Nanoosh, one of my favorite hummus restaurants in NYC, shared their recipe for quinoa salad, healthy and delish! http://creativedelites.com/2009/12/19/nyc-chefs-share-their-healthy-recipes-hugo-trinquier-nanoosh/
01/12/2010 12:00:40 PM CST
Sue says ...
Two more to add to your list: cranberries and edamame.
01/12/2010 2:37:25 AM CST
screwdestiny says ...
I looove tomatoes. My favorite way to eat them is raw in sandwiches or salads (caprese stacks, yum!), but I love them in pretty much everything.
01/11/2010 11:29:00 PM CST
Margo says ...
I like this list. I am intrigued to learn about quinoa, and am now anxious to try it. My must have foods? I think it is so wonderful that we have such a variety of apples cultivated now. When I hit my afternoon lag, I just crunch on an apple and it gives me a natural boost to get through my day. Cranberries are another of my must have foods. I love them in any form except that horrid canned jelly. I will have to do a little more research for kale recipes. This one looks good if made with other leafy greens. I will try to be convinced, but I am skeptical. You see, I put myself through college working in a restaurant with a salad bar. Kale was used to cover the ice where the ingredients were nestled. I put out this greenery and took it down every day. My associations with this vegetable are overpowered by the smell of the leaves as they start to decay. Since it made it all the way to your top 10, though, it really must be an amazing food. I just need to get brave and overcome those negative associations. Once again, thanks for the list and some introductions for my diet.
01/11/2010 4:11:34 PM CST
Rachel says ...
Well, 7 out of 10 ain't bad! I guess I need to work on getting pomegranate, kale and quinoa into our diet. And thank you for posting about quinoa being a complete protein...I didn't know that!
01/11/2010 11:01:23 AM CST
MichellePC says ...
I definitely have to start adding more quinoa and kale to my diet! Two foods I love, but never eat/cook with enough. Thanks for this list, it's great!
01/11/2010 11:04:56 AM CST
Food Makes Fun Fuel says ...
I love all of these, but need to add dark chocolate! The bitterness is just too good and it's full of antioxidants.
01/11/2010 10:38:44 AM CST
Kristin says ...
We found a great source for grass fed beef. We've ordered from them for the past 3 years. It is a great value, delivered right to your door. Vermont Natural Beef: http://www.vermontnaturalbeef.com/
01/11/2010 11:49:16 AM CST
Tony Stone says ...
Porridge, made with organic oats is top of my list.
01/11/2010 11:45:32 AM CST
Pam (@ TotalHealthCounseling) says ...
I recently tried the grain millet and it's really good. Kind of fluffy like mashed potatoes. I like to mix it with green veggies and tahini (ground sesame seeds). Other super foods I love are oatmeal and almond butter for breakfast, dark chocolate, garnet yams (roasted), eggs are great too and cheap. As for super drinks, my vote is for water and decaf green tea!
02/03/2010 8:56:03 PM CST
Gabrielle says ...
The only problem with this list is if one wants to be "green" too and eat locally grown food. Avocados and blueberries are not local for most. Sad. :( I LOVE kale though! And I went to Whole Foods in Marietta, GA last night and they had NONE! The local cold weather has wiped out certain crops, or deliveries thereof. Hope they get more in soon. Great list!
01/13/2010 7:25:22 PM CST
marc says ...
come to whole foods on wednesdays, 5.99 lb
01/21/2010 2:20:00 PM CST
Amy Holton says ...
This article made my day! It validates everything we do on a regular basis. The only one missing from our diet as a family is pomegranate. I wish my husband liked it! Quinoa is fantastic. I'm gluten intolerant and use it in place of cous cous. My stepdaughter is vegetarian and I introduced it to her since it's a complete protein. I often use it in place of rice as well. Speaking of vegetarian, I'm going to have to try the black bean burger recipe. I agree with Tony Stone about oats. My husband's cholesterol was a bit high and his doctor wanted him to try to control it with diet first. We made a few changes to his snacks and he was more accepting to me adding more fish (he was very happy to add the dark chocolate!). The cholesterol came down, but was still a bit high. Added organic, steel cut oats and that remedied the situation.
01/21/2010 10:41:33 AM CST
Jacqueline McGann says ...
I like all these suggestions for healthy eating in 2010 and will be trying them soon. I do buy all my fruit, veggies and meats and dairy at Wholefoods Market and like Quinoa. I will be trying the Roasted Kale recipe as I would like to eat more dark green veggies but do not know how to cook them so that they will taste good. Thank you Wholefoods!!!
01/21/2010 7:16:23 AM CST
kath h says ...
Always appreciate info on healthy choices.
01/21/2010 4:34:43 AM CST
elyse eisenberg says ...
Pomegranate Sangria Recipe: http://creativedelites.com/2009/11/24/create-red-sangria-with-pomegranate-recipe/
01/20/2010 11:21:15 PM CST
elyse eisenberg says ...
Leave Your Preconceptions at The Door, Try This Simply Delicious Veggie Burger Recipe; Baked Lentil Cheese Burgers, http://creativedelites.com/2010/01/18/baked-lentil-veggie-burgers/
01/20/2010 11:18:51 PM CST
elizabeth says ...
I totally agree with your top 10!!! I am looking forward to teaching "Top 10 Superfoods" at the La Jolla Whole Foods on March 11th from 6:30-8pm. Thank you for your article.
01/20/2010 10:54:05 PM CST
Nancy says ...
Iv'e been coming to Whole foods,now for 4 yrs. I went to the one in Buckhead for 3yrs,moved and now going to the one on Biarcliff. I just wish,the nuts weren't so pricy. I also like raw walnuts,but you don't have them. I enjoy shopping there. Nancy
01/20/2010 8:30:16 PM CST
Erin says ...
I love quinoa! I just made a new dish tonight with quinoa! I am definitely going to add the recipe to my blog and share with my online friends. It was so good! I've never had avocado w/ grapefruit...sounds like an interesting combo!
01/20/2010 7:52:41 PM CST
Bryan says ...
AVOCADO - another great use for these is to put a quarter avocado in a smoothie. It makes it extra rich and creamy, like a milkshake, and adds healthy fat to the mix as well. I highly recommend trying it. When I buy mine I quarter them and put them in a freezer bag so they're ready to drop in the blender without the mess or having to figure out what to do with the rest of it before it turns brown!
01/20/2010 7:31:41 PM CST