New Foods to Try…and How to Enjoy Them

Out of about 23,000 (or more) foods that reside in your neighborhood supermarket, you eat only about 200 of them. Why so few? Well, some foods you just don’t like. You may be allergic to or intolerant of certain foods. Or, the price of certain foods might be beyond your budget. But chances are, there are foods that you see on the shelves or in the produce section that you’re curious about, but you have no clue how to prepare them or how to eat them. Maybe it’s time to try something new or different and expand your food palette a bit. Here are a few to consider sampling:

Blood orange. The name may make you a bit queasy, but no doubt you’ll enjoy this fruit, not just for its flavor but for its deep, red color. The red comes from an antioxidant called anthocyanin (also found in other red produce, such as raspberries and red-fleshed potatoes). And like other citrus fruits, blood oranges are free of fat, cholesterol, and sodium, and rich in vitamin C. One blood orange has about 70 calories and 16 grams of carbohydrate.

Try it. Enjoy blood oranges as a snack, in a salad, or topped with Greek yogurt for a healthy dessert.

Kañiwa. Move over quinoa, you’ve got some competition. Kañiwa (pronounced ka-nyi-wa) is a South American grain that’s smaller than quinoa. Like quinoa, kañiwa is high in protein, fiber, iron, and calcium. (Note that the protein and fiber content mean this grain is less likely to spike blood sugars). It’s also gluten-free. In addition, kañiwa is a little easier to prepare than quinoa (which often requires repeated rinsing before preparation). One-half cup of cooked kañiwa contains 160 calories and 30 grams of carbohydrate, along with 4 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein.

Try it. Use kañiwa just like you’d use any other cooked grain — served as a side dish, added to soups or stews, or tossed with salads.

Pistachios. Pistachios are nothing new, and many of you recall the days when pistachios were dyed red, staining your fingers and sometimes your face as you tried to pry them open. Pistachios are native to the Middle East and Asia, and it wasn’t until recently that these nuts were grown stateside (first planted in California, to be exact). Today, the U.S is the second largest exporter of pistachios, the first being Iran. These tasty nuts are rich in both monounsaturated and omega-3 fat[1], heart-healthy types of fat, as well as B vitamins, vitamin E, and selenium. They’re thought to be “diabetes-friendly,” as well, since munching on these tasty nuts has been shown to lower blood sugar and insulin levels. However, like all nuts, pistachios come at a cost: They’re high in calories, so watch your portion. A quarter-cup contains 170 calories, 14 grams of fat, 8 grams of carbohydrate, and 6 grams of protein.

Try them. Like any nut, pistachios are great for a snack. But you can make them part of a meal, as well: Chop them up and sprinkle them over grilled steak or fish, or sprinkle them on top of a salad. And if you don’t want red fingers, buy uncolored pistachios.

Kalettes. Just when you thought you couldn’t take another bite of kale, along comes a new vegetable called “Kalettes.” A cross between kale and Brussels sprouts, Kalettes are a hybrid vegetable (not to be confused with a genetically-modified vegetable, by the way), with a thick stalk and leaves. They can be eaten raw, but also roasted or steamed or cooked in pretty much any manner that you’d cook kale or Brussels sprouts. Another plus: They’re really low in calories and carbs. One-and-a-half cups contains just 45 calories and 6 grams of carbohydrate. Kalettes are a good source of vitamins C and K, too.

Try them. Check out the Kalettes website for recipes[2].

Skyr. Never heard of it? That’s OK, because you can probably find this right in your grocery store. Skyr is an Icelandic yogurt made from skim cow’s milk and live bacterial cultures. The whey is drained off, leaving a thick, creamy yogurt. Apparently the Vikings brought Skyr to Iceland about 1100 years ago and the rest, as they say, is history. This Icelandic delicacy is low in fat and sugar, but full of protein and calcium. Siggi’s is a common brand, and an 8-ounce container of the plain flavor contains about 120 calories, 0 grams of fat, 8 grams of carbohydrate, and 23 grams of protein.

Try it. Skyr is delicious enough to eat by itself, but as with most types of yogurt, it’s also great with oatmeal and fruit, used in place of sour cream, or blended into a smoothie.

  1. omega-3 fat:
  2. Kalettes website for recipes:

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Amy Campbell: Amy Campbell is the author of Staying Healthy with Diabetes: Nutrition and Meal Planning and a frequent contributor to Diabetes Self-Management and Diabetes & You. She has co-authored several books, including the The Joslin Guide to Diabetes and the American Diabetes Association’s 16 Myths of a “Diabetic Diet,” for which she received a Will Solimene Award of Excellence in Medical Communication and a National Health Information Award in 2000. Amy also developed menus for Fit Not Fat at Forty Plus and co-authored Eat Carbs, Lose Weight with fitness expert Denise Austin. Amy earned a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from Simmons College and a master’s degree in nutrition education from Boston University. In addition to being a Registered Dietitian, she is a Certified Diabetes Educator and a member of the American Dietetic Association, the American Diabetes Association, and the American Association of Diabetes Educators. Amy was formerly a Diabetes and Nutrition Educator at Joslin Diabetes Center, where she was responsible for the development, implementation, and evaluation of disease management programs, including clinical guideline and educational material development, and the development, testing, and implementation of disease management applications. She is currently the Director of Clinical Education Content Development and Training at Good Measures. Amy has developed and conducted training sessions for various disease and case management programs and is a frequent presenter at disease management events.

Disclaimer of Medical Advice: Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information, which comes from qualified medical writers, does not constitute medical advice or recommendation of any kind, and you should not rely on any information contained in such posts or comments to replace consultations with your qualified health care professionals to meet your individual needs.