Why it’s great: Tofu is low in fat and high in protein and isoflavones, which studies show can help protect against hormone-dependent cancers, such as breast cancer and prostate cancer. Some studies indicate isoflavones can also help reduce symptoms of menopause. “Soy is the only plant-based protein that contains the full complement of 21 amino acids, so it can actually replace meat in a diet,” says Sunderland.
Ways to serve: Tofu, available in soft, medium and firm varieties, is bland by itself, but readily absorbs other flavours. Blend soft tofu into smoothies or stir-fry firmer varieties with vegetables. For stylish entertaining, Olson suggests sesame-crusted tofu skewers with walnut pesto. Marinate skewered tofu in garlic, soy sauce and rice vinegar, brush with egg white and sesame seeds and bake for five minutes on each side. Serve with toasted walnuts blended with Thai basil, parsley, salt, garlic, ginger, orange zest and olive oil.
Recipe to try:
• Fried Rice with Tofu and Vegetables
Found at health-food stores (look in the bulk section).
Why they’re great: Wheat berries are simply whole wheat kernels. “The fibre, vitamins, minerals and hundreds of phytonutrients, including antioxidants, found in whole grains appear to work together in powerful ways to help reduce the risk of heart disease, certain cancers and diabetes,” explains Sunderland.
Ways to serve: Wheat berries must be soaked for eight hours, then cooked for one hour. “Wheat berries are awesome,” says Olson. “I use them as I would couscous or pasta in summer salads.” She suggests grilling vegetables and tossing them with cooked wheat berries and fresh herbs.
Recipe to try:
• Millet with Spinach and Pine Nuts (substitute wheat berries for the millet)
Why they’re great: Mangoes are high in beta carotene, which gives the fruit’s flesh its distinctive colour. “Beta carotene has been shown to have a lot of health benefits such as protecting against cardiovascular disease and keeping eyes healthy,” says Sunderland. Mangoes are also loaded with immunity-boosting vitamin C, which helps us absorb another of mangoes’ benefits: iron. While this juicy fruit might seem like an indulgence, it’s easier on the budget than blueberries and pomegranates.
Ways to serve: Mangoes are terrific in smoothies and fruit salads. Olson suggests tossing chopped mango into a rice noodle salad with asparagus and wasabi dressing. (For the dressing, combine rice vinegar, a little sesame oil and wasabi powder.)