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5 Must-Eat Superfoods and Quick Ways to Turn Them Into Snacks

Eating healthy doesn't have to be a time-consuming chore. Cookbook author Cassie Johnston gives a (realistic) crash course in fitting superfood snack recipes into your daily routine.

Cassie Johnston

Chocolate-Coffee-Chia Energy Bites

The superfood: Chia seeds
Eat them because: They’re packed with omega-3 fatty acids (important for brain health). Plus, the gelatinous coating they form when exposed to liquid slows digestion, which makes you feel full longer.

Recipe:

Makes: 12 bites
Time: 5 minutes

1 cup pitted Medjool dates 
(about 15 whole dates)
½ cup raw almonds
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons ground coffee
1 tablespoon chia seeds
Pinch of salt

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until the almonds are in very small pieces and the mixture holds together when squeezed. Using wet hands, form into twelve 1-inch balls.

Nutrition per serving: 50  calories, 3.0  g  fat, 6.1  g  carbs, 1.8  g  protein

Want the flavor without the buzz? Just sub in decaf coffee.

Cassie Johnston

Lemon-Avocado Raw Kale Salad

The superfood: Kale
Eat it because: It contains carotenoids and flavonoids that may prevent the body’s cells from turning cancerous. Kale also helps lower cholesterol.

Recipe:

Makes: 2 servings
Time: 5 minutes

1 bunch kale, stems removed and torn into bite-size pieces
½ ripe avocado, pitted
Juice of ½ lemon
Salt and pepper
Toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Place the kale in a large bowl. Using clean hands, squeeze the avocado flesh into the bowl and massage the avocado into the kale until the leaves relax and are all coated in avocado—about 5  minutes. Squeeze in the lemon juice, season with salt and pepper to taste, and then toss to coat. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if using.

Nutrition per serving: 169  calories, 9.8  g fat, 18.4  g  carbs, 5.0  g protein

Be sure to really massage those kale leaves with your fingers. This isn’t a job for a spoon!

Cassie Johnston

Lemon-Garlic White Bean Hummus

The superfood: White beans
Eat them because: They offer big servings of fiber and protein, but make for a creamier and smoother dip than chickpeas.

Recipe:

Makes: 8 servings
Time: 10 minutes

2 (14–ounce) cans Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
Juice of 2 lemons
¼ cup tahini
4 cloves garlic, peeled
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon hot sauce
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a food processor, mix together the beans, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, salt, and hot sauce. Process until the beans are smooth, stopping to scrape the sides if necessary. With the processor running on low speed, stream in the olive oil through the chute and process until just combined.

Nutrition per serving: 194 calories, 11.2 g fat, 22 g carbs, 6.3 g protein

If you’re a huge garlic fan, feel free to toss in a few more cloves for an extra kick (and maybe keep the breath mints nearby).

Cassie Johnston

Orange Balsamic Glazed Beets

The superfood: Beets
Eat them because: They’re packed with phytonutrients that act as both antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. Beets may help lower the risk of heart disease.

Recipe:

Makes: 4 servings
Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

For the beets

6 large beets, scrubbed and greens removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper

For the glaze

Juice and zest of 2 oranges
½ cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey

To prepare the beets, preheat the oven to 400°F. Rub the beets with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap each of the beets tightly in aluminum foil. Place in a small baking dish and bake for 40  to 50  minutes, or until fork tender. Let cool until the beets can be handled. While the beets cool, prepare the glaze. In a small saucepan, mix the orange juice and zest, vinegar, and honey. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, and cook for 10  to 15  minutes, or until the glaze becomes thick and syrupy.

Once the beets are cool, peel off outer skins and then chop the beets into bite-size pieces. Toss the beets with the glaze and season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.

Nutrition per serving: 186  calories, 7.3  g  fat, 29.3  g  carbs, 3.0  g  protein

This recipe works with both purple and golden beets. For a pretty platter, mix the two!

Cassie Johnston

Apple Pie Spinach Smoothie

The superfood: Spinach
Eat it because: It contains more than 25 percent of the recommended daily allowances of 10 vitamins and minerals (in just one serving!). Spinach is especially dense in vitamin K, which helps maintain bone health.

Recipe:

Makes: 1 serving
Time: 5 minutes

½ cup milk
½ cup apple juice
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup fresh spinach
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
1 banana
Pinch of ground cinnamon
A few ice cubes

Blend all the ingredients in a blender on high speed until very smooth.

Nutrition per serving: 325  calories, 2  g  fat, 66  g carbs, 15 g protein

Tweak the spices to suit your tastes. Ground ginger, cloves, and nutmeg are all great additions!

Cassie Johnston

Eat a Superfood-Packed Diet!

All the tasty—and super!—recipes in Chia, Quinoa, Kale, Oh My! will squelch every excuse (“I don’t have time!” “I don’t cook!”). Fuel your day with dishes like oatmeal-raisin breakfast cookies for the morning, apple slaw with goji berries for the afternoon, and beef & barley stew for the evening. Cue major mouthwatering.

Take a look for yourself here.

Excerpted from Chia, Quinoa, Kale, Oh My! © 2015 by Cassie Johnston. Reproduced by permission of  Countryman Press, a division of W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest