Better Together: Nutritionally-Packed Pairs
by Vanessa Voltolina
Some foods are just tastier together: PB&J, oil and vinegar, and chips and salsa. Beyond what’s pleasing to your taste buds, pairing some foods can actually enhance the nutritional value of your meal. Discover which foods to pair these good-for-you favorites with, from registered dietitian Alanna Cabrero.
Perfect Pair: Dark Greens + Citrus
Greens (think: spinach, kale and Cabrero’s favorite, arugula) are loaded with vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A and C, and iron. “In order to better absorb iron from vegetarian sources,” she says, “it’s better to consume greens with a dash of citrus. Lemon, lime or orange are some of my go-to choices.”
Try this: Add kale to your garden salad
Perfect Pair: Meat + Herbs
Love to grill? Great! But when you do, “you have to take certain precautions, especially when it comes to meat,” reminds Cabrero. In addition to amping up the taste, it’s important to add herbs and spices because, when cooked over high heat, meat creates a compound called malondialdehyde that’s been linked to cancer, heart disease, and other chronic conditions. “By rubbing antioxidant-rich herbs, such as Herbs De Provence — usually a mix of rosemary, basil, thyme, marjoram, sage, and fennel — you can reduce up to 70 percent of this nasty compound!” If you weren’t sold before, you should be now!
Perfect Pair: Tomatoes + EVOO
Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over fresh tomatoes. Why? The healthy fat found in olive oil helps absorb the fat-soluble antioxidants and vitamins found in tomatoes such as lycopene, carotenoids, and vitamin E that especially help the skin, eyes, and heart, explains Cabrero. “If you want to change it up,” she says, “include a little avocado or crushed pistachios for increased absorption.”
Perfect Pair: Brown Rice + Beans
Both are great sources of fiber, providing energy—and fullness—throughout the day, as well as B-vitamins, iron, and calcium. Eaten together, they are a great source of protein. Since rice is missing the amino acid lysine, and beans methionine, they complement each other. “I’m from Mexico, so I can’t help but love rice and beans,” adds Cabrero. “I usually cook it with red onion, chile Serrano, and tomato. I serve it with avocado and, of course, a dash of lime.”
Perfect Pair: Almond Butter + Whole-Wheat Bread
This match made in heaven has to do with the fact that the amino acid missing in whole wheat bread (lysine) is abundant in almond butter. So, spreading a light coat of almond butter on whole wheat bread is not only nutritionally beneficial, but “a perfect snack!” says Cabrero. Also consider adding a little bit of honey to quell your sweet tooth.