6 Foods to Liven Up Your Dinner Plate

What are some of the changes you have on your list to try this year? Being more active? Spending more time with family and friends? How about volunteering at an animal adoption? I think a large number of people set out to have better eating habits every year. These six foods are on this year’s must-try list because they pack a nutritional punch. Dig into these better-for-you foods and make your 2015 resolution a reality.

Whole Grains

Eating whole grains isn’t a new idea, but there are some whole grains you may have missed. The Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend making half your grains whole. Food companies are producing innovative whole-grain foods, and some forgotten ancient grains are reappearing.

Dave’s Killer Bread: These whole-grain slices of heaven come thinly sliced for 60 calories apiece.

Bob’s Red Mill Organic Kasha: Buckwheat has been around for more than 1,000 years and is one of the earliest known grains. One-quarter cup dry provides 5 grams of protein and 16 percent of your daily recommended amount of fiber.

Gretchen’s Grains Organic Wheat Berries: These whole grains are soaring in popularity. Gretchen’s made a fully cooked and frozen variety, so you can enjoy their goodness without cooking!

Udi’s Gluten-Free Steel-Cut Oats: No more worries about cross-contaminated oats! Udi’s makes sure there’s no gluten found in the package.

Sprouted Grains: Another way to take in those whole grains is by eating them right after they germinate. There are many new and delicious sprouted-grain products on the market to try.

Spicy Condiments

A little bit of these tasty condiments goes a long way. Many fancy brands are making reappearances, while some favorites are getting spiced up.

Three Bridges Superfood Pesto Sauce: This spin on pesto is made from a combo of basil and kale. Use one tablespoon to flavor a mozzarella cheese and tomato or grilled chicken sandwich.

Kosciusko Spicy Brown Mustard: Fancy mustards are making a comeback, and this brand just knocks it out of the park! The spice factor helps keep portions under control, so you can stick to the one teaspoon serving recommendation.

Hope Spicy Avocado Hummus: This Boulder, Colo., hummus company has some of my favorite flavors. Use it as a condiment on a turkey sandwich or with grilled veggies.

Dairy Goods

The dairy aisle is filling up with some new finds; each can help you meet the recommended three daily servings of dairy.

Lifeway Low-Fat Kefir: This cultured milk has a tangy flavor, and it’s made with live and active cultures, many of which act as probiotics.

Siggi’s Icelandic-Style Cream Skyr: If you’re looking to try a new yogurt, this rich and creamy strained version is brimming with calcium and protein.

Dannon Creamery: Satisfy your sweet tooth with a good-for-you dessert! These seemingly indulgent flavors are made with Greek yogurt and topped with fruit sauces, yet they contain a boatload of essential nutrients and fewer than 200 calories each.

New Citrus

More varieties of citrus fruit have become available throughout the country. Now we can have more fun getting our daily dose of antioxidants and fiber.

Cara Cara Oranges: Originally discovered in Venezuela, these babies are now grown in California. They have a reddish-pink flesh and a sweet tangy flavor. They’re available December through April.

Blood Oranges: Originally from Spain and Italy, these dramatically colored oranges are now grown in California, Texas and Florida. The flesh is a scarlet color, and these oranges are less acidic than other varieties. They’re available a short time from January through March.

Exotic Vegetables

Open your palate to new and exciting vegetables. The wider variety of foods you choose to eat, the more opportunities you have to take in all those important nutrients.

Jicama: This edible root is similar to a turnip. The flesh is white with a mild flavor, while the skin is brown. Jicama can be eaten raw on a crudite platter (it doesn’t brown after being sliced), in salsa or in slaw. Or cook it in stir-fries and noodle dishes.

Sunchoke (Jerusalem Artichoke): These silly looking tubers were originally cultivated by Native Americans and have a delicate flavor similar to an artichoke. One-half cup sliced contains 54 calories and provides 14 percent of your daily recommended amount of iron. It’s also a good source of thiamin.

Fermented Foods

The popularity of fermented foods is rising. Fermented foods contain live and active bacteria, many of which act as tummy-pleasing probiotics. Many fermented foods are high in salt, but you can still reap their benefits if you keep an eye on portions.

Farmhouse Culture Kimchi: Made from cabbage, radish, carrots, leeks, and a combo of delicious herbs and spices, kimchi is packed with nutrition and probiotics.

Hikari Miso Organic Miso: Used in Asian cuisines, red or white miso makes a delicious addition to soups, gravy and dips.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.. She sits on Dannon’s Expert Yogurt Board.