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Looking for a way to pump up the nutritional value of your meal? Add in a healthy ingredient! Cooking healthy and great-tasting meals from scratch doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and once you’ve committed a good recipe to memory, there’s usually a temptation, at least for most people, to make the same dish over and over again. We all want to show off our skills at something we know we’re good at, but getting stuck in a pattern like this is not only boring but could wind up being rather unhealthy, as well. To help keep your diet both varied and healthy, here are some tasty ingredients that you can add to almost any dish.

Healthy Ingredient 1: Lima Beans

healthy ingredient lima beans, with pasta

I’ll admit I’ve been a lima bean hater in the past, but when added sparingly to the right dishes, they can add unique flavor and texture to a dish. If you like to eat a lot of starch-heavy foods such as pasta and potatoes, then why not plan to re-discover the grossly underrated lima bean? These nondescript little beans are bursting with nutrients, such as fiber and protein. You don’t have to get a lot of them in to hit your daily recommended amount of iron, either. Perhaps the best thing about lima beans is how versatile they are. There are some favorites you’ve probably heard of before, but you can really add lima beans to almost any savory dish that you can think of. Any number of soups, salads, and stir-fries can be accented with a handful of these great little beans. Furthermore, the fact that lima beans come canned, frozen and dried means that you can keep your kitchen stocked up on them and only take them out as and when needed.

Healthy Ingredient 2: Kale

healthy ingredient - kale, with pomegranate

Source: Flickr

Kale is a true nutritional powerhouse, and also one of the most versatile greens you can bring into your kitchen. It’s packed with vitamins A, C and K, not to mention heaps of iron and calcium. It’s also completely void of fat, despite being high in fiber for a leafy green. As kale has become increasingly popular with a health-conscious, eco-friendly generation, more sustainable agricultural firms such as Boggiatto Produce are making kale a big part of their operation. Kale makes a fantastic accent to various meat stews, rice dishes, salads, pastas, and so on. Recently, I had the pleasure of trying a potato, sausage and kale soup at The Olive Garden that is just fantastic! Kale’s water-dwelling relatives, kelp and seaweed, are also very nutritious, and for years they’ve been been staples in too many Asian dishes to list here!

Healthy Ingredient 3: Radicchio

healthy ingredient - Radicchio

Radicchio, if you haven’t heard of it before, is a purple Italian lettuce that can be added to more or less any lettuce dish to add a sharp, distinctive kick, not to mention a number of health benefits. Radicchio is bursting with inulin, which helps to control your blood sugar levels, and it’s also a fantastic source of vitamin K, which is essential for bone health. It’s also worth noting that radicchio contains four times the antioxidants that romaine lettuce has. Anthocyanin is the ingredient that makes this lettuce purple. This nutrient can help to lower a person’s blood pressure, slow down the process of age-related memory loss, and deliver a range of other health benefits.

Healthy Ingredient 4: Bitter Melon

healthy ingredient - bitter melon

Source: Pixabay

Bitter melon may be pushing the boat out somewhat for you, but this is another highly flexible and healthy food that you can add to range of different dishes. Although bitter melon may look and cook a lot like a zucchini, it has a much stronger flavor, and you can’t really use it as freely as you would its more bland-tasting cousin. Getting some bitter melon in every now and then can be absolutely fantastic for your blood sugar levels, and the case for these amongst diabetics is looking better and better all the time. They can also be a very healthy way to keep a cap on your appetite if you’re looking to lose weight. This is because bitter melon has an incredibly low glycemic index, meaning that when you eat some you’ll feel much fuller for much longer.

Healthy Ingredient 5: Lupini Beans

healthy ingredient - lupini beans

By Calapito – Own work, Public Domain

If you like chickpeas, which seem to be in pretty much every healthy living recipe these days, then try swapping them out for some lupini beans every once in a while. Their similar taste means that you’re not going to have a massive shock biting into a mouthful, and they’re also bursting with fiber, protein and healthy carbs. They’re also naturally much crunchier than chickpeas, and you may find them more satisfying in salads or just as a snack in between meals. There are also a number of curries, pastas and noodle dishes that lupini beans are delicious in.

If you’re looking to play around with your cooking, but you’re afraid of it getting out of hand, give some of these healthy and delicious ingredients a try.

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