5 foods that are pleasure to your lips and don’t stick to your hips.

12.29.2015

The average American gains about one pound over the holidays. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it adds up as it catches up to us holiday after holiday, year after year. Which, in essence, is how most overweight people become overweight–gradually, imperceptibly, permanently. January is time to get back on track!

The main culprit of the unwanted weight gain is high calorie, low nutrition junk food. If your company breakroom was full of refined flour, butter, and sugar in December, you are not alone. It may be harmless to partake occasionally, but one way to curb our cravings for foods that deliver empty calories is to choose options that are nutrient dense but equally filling and fulfilling.

Here are five rich-tasting, easy to find, super healthy whole foods that will make up for those calorie bombs that were disguised as marshmallow wreaths and gingerbread men.

1) Lentils. These legumes, which originated in the Near East, are simple to make: measure three cups of water per one cup of lentils, bring water to boil, add lentils, boil for 20-30 minutes, drain. From there, you can play around. An excellent of iron, protein, potassium, and fiber, lentils have an earthy and deeply satisfying taste. A cup of lentils contains only traces of fat, is only 230 calories, is associated with an 82 percent drop in the likelihood of getting heart disease. They are great to toss into your favorite soup, or incorporate into a salad!

2) Cashews. Sometimes people who are watching their calories try to avoid nuts and seeds for fear that they’ll lead to excess pounds. As it turns out, eating even a small handful of cashews sates the palate and reduces the craving for other less nutritious crunchy food like chips or crackers. Cashews, which are native to Brazil, really deliver on nutrients. They’re full of antioxidants, oleic acid (the good stuff in olive oil), and magnesium, which promotes bone health. And with no preparation required! Buy them roasted and unsalted and snack on them when you get the craving for some crunch.

3) Sweet potatoes. Full of vitamins A, B, and C, sweet potatoes, which are native to Central America, are associated with numerous health benefits. They’ve been shown to regulate blood sugar, are a great source of beta-carotene, and promote joint health. The natural flavor and heartiness of a sweet potato requires you to do little more than slice one into wedges, drizzle with olive oil, and roast at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and pepper when they come out. Yum!

4) Avocados. Like nuts and seeds, avocados, which are native to Central and South America are commonly avoided because of their high fat content. Thinly sliced or mashed with lemon juice, salt, and chipped onion to make guacamole, avocados are a first-rate nutrient dense food. But remember, avocado fat is generally considered to be “good fat,” the kind that reduces inflammation, aids the digestion of fat soluble nutrients, and contributes to heart health. It’s also a great source of vitamins K, C, and B6, in addition to potassium and folate. Look for avocados that are just barely soft and are free of dark sunken spots in the skin.

5) Quinoa. One of the world’s healthiest foods, this nutty grain is not only rich in flavor but in antioxidants, omega-3s, and calcium. Native to South America, quinoa is easy to prepare: rinse grains, measure two parts water to one-part quinoa, bring to boil, reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Serve with toasted pine nuts and chopped cilantro. Comfort food!

What we eat is in our hands! If you partook in some not-so-healthy treats over the holidays, try some of these foods that you’ll love, and they will love you back!