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Secret Weapon Ingredients

Healthy Foods That Go With Almost Anything
  -- By Liz Noelcke, Staff Writer

Ahem. . . allow us to introduce to you several Secret Weapon Ingredients. And what, you might ask, are Secret Weapon Ingredients? They are versatile foods that are perfect for mixing into many recipes and dishes and provide a nutritional punch to any meal. They are easy and convenient, and their nutritional benefits are numerous. Do you have trouble making your kids eat healthy foods? Sneak these into their meals and their bodies will be grateful.

Beans
These little guys are a major source of soluble fiber, which keeps the digestive tract moving efficiently and therefore allowing it to absorb nutrients more effectively. Fiber also lowers bad cholesterol levels in the blood. How can you use beans? Replace fatty meat with low-fat beans in some of your recipes. They will make you feel full, so you’re less likely to overeat. Add them to salad or soups. For a simple dinner idea, mix beans with brown rice or whole wheat pasta.

Berries
Since there are so many varieties, chances are you can find one that tickles your taste buds. Powerful antioxidants, berries help combat heart disease and cancer. Berries are filled with vitamin C, a nutrient that wards off illness and helps build up the body. And, just like beans, berries are a good source of fiber. Between strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries, you’ll be doing your body a favor by tossing these into meals. Try them with your morning oatmeal, mixed into yogurt or smoothies, or as a low-fat ice cream topping. Feeling adventurous? Try sliced strawberries and raspberries topped with balsamic vinegar and powdered sugar.

Tomatoes
This amazing fruit, which we commonly call a vegetable, is easy to add to meals. No matter its classification, the fact of the matter is that tomatoes are proven to reduce the risk of certain cancers, especially those in the digestive tract, by absorbing free radicals. They provide great antioxidant protection for your body. As a bonus, they are probably one of the easiest Secret Weapon Ingredients to include in your cooking. Add to an omelet, top your salad, or toss into spaghetti sauce. Want more? Make your own homemade salsa, mixing chopped tomatoes, onions and chili peppers.

Peas
Did your mother ever nag you about eating your peas? Turns out she was right! Peas have a wealth of nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein. That should be enough motivation to eat more than just a mouthful. Sauté with other vegetables (including tomatoes) and eat over brown rice. Add peas to your chicken casseroles, soups, salads, even lasagna. Try them with or without the pods and be creative.

Carrots
Yet another choice that’s packed with antioxidants. Specifically, carrots contain beta-carotene, which helps promote good eye health. Of course, you can enjoy these veggies raw, and they make convenient snacks just about anywhere you go. Carrots have a pretty mild flavor, so they can also easily be incorporated into a variety of recipes; they will enhance tastes without being too overwhelming. Heat them up in your stew or soup for tonight’s dinner. Use them to top your pizza (seriously, a little shredded carrot can give pizza some extra vegetable health) or cook some carrots in with your stuffing.