Three Tasty International Foods for Nutritious Meals

Do you feel like your meals include the same ingredients every week, such as carrots, tomatoes and chicken breast over and over? Getting plenty of fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts and healthy fats is smart, but that doesn’t mean you have to stick to just a few options. Nutritious, natural ingredients offer plenty of variety, especially if you’re adventurous enough to check out international favorites. Check out this exotic list to add some excitement to your weekly meals.

1. Harissa

Mexican food doesn’t have the exclusive rights to hot sauce. If you love the bold punch of peppers but want a unique spin, try harissa paste instead of salsa. Harissa is a spicy paste that comes from the Middle East and Northern Africa.

It combines red chili peppers, cumin, garlic, coriander and olive oil. Whereas salsa tends toward an acidic, playful, tomato-centric flavor profile, harissa is earthy, rich, deep and fragrant: perfect for Indian and Moroccan recipes.

You can decide how spicy you want your harissa. Some people like it blazing hot and others keep it around jalapeno levels of hotness. Use the finished paste as a tasty rub for chicken and fish, as a topping for burgers, in your favorite omelet or as an ingredient to supercharge other sauces and dips.

According to WebMD, capsaicin — an impressive antioxidant from chili peppers — has several potential health benefits. It can have anti-inflammatory effects that support heart health. It may also contribute to an active metabolism and help with pain.

2. Kimchi

Probiotic powders are a popular topic in the news, and many people are learning about the connection between probiotics and gut health. These good bacteria play an important role in your body’s digestive system, such as promoting a natural balance of microflora in the gut. When you think about probiotics, the first thing that comes to mind is probably yogurt. Remember, though, this article is about opening up your culinary horizons and exposing your recipe book to new experiences. You can give your family the gift of probiotics with out-of-this-world ingredients from overseas. Kimchi is one such international superstar.

Kimchi is a South Korean dish that’s made from fermented veggies — kind of like sauerkraut, but with an Asian flavor profile. It usually contains fermented cabbage, garlic, ginger, hot peppers and onions, plus a few other veggies of choice. Once it’s ready, kimchi can provide the same types of good bacteria that yogurt has.

You can eat this bold concoction as a side dish to bring milder staples to life, such as rice, potatoes or other grains. Another option is to add this spicy topping to sandwiches or wraps. It even works as a filling for mushroom and cheese omelets.

3. Souvlaki

Whole grains are an important part of a balanced diet, but not everyone can eat certain grains, such as wheat. If you’re trying to eat fewer carbs, limiting white rice and refined bread may be on the menu. Many Greek recipes, including Souvlaki, emphasize lean proteins, legumes, vegetables and fruits more than carb-heavy foods. Greek and Mediterranean foods taste delicious and offer a variety of nutrients to support overall health.

Souvlaki is a Greek “kebab” or meat skewer. What makes it special are the delicious ingredients used to marinate the meat before grilling. Traditional souvlaki features pork that has been marinated for hours in olive oil, crushed garlic, oregano, lemon juice and pepper. Modern versions offer endless protein variations, especially chicken, fish and lamb. You can even create vegetarian souvlaki with portobello mushrooms, zucchini chunks and halloumi cheese.

Regardless of the meat or veggies you prefer, make sure to add some tasty veggies when grilling. Cucumbers, yellow peppers, onions and tomatoes are a classic combination. Creamy tzatziki made from yogurt, lemon juice, dill, garlic and cucumbers helps to tame the spiciness of the marinade.

These are just some of the ways to enjoy international ingredients with a healthy twist. Keep your family excited and satisfied, too.

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