A balanced diet, abundant in plant foods, is fundamental to feeling vibrant and staying well. For women, however, there are certain foods that are especially beneficial. 

Celebrate mom this mother’s day by serving up delicious super-foods found in our Grilled chicken and berry salad and blueberry-avocado muffins.

Top foods that promote women's health:

Greek Yogurt:  One 6 oz. serving boosts bone health with more than 20% of your daily calcium need and 15% for vitamin D.   Greek yogurt provides more protein as 2 eggs and is a good source of probiotics that support digestive and immune health.

Almonds: Just a handful a few times a week can help women correct imbalances in many nutrients that women don’t get enough of.  Almonds are rich in nutrients, including magnesium, vitamin E, iron, calcium, fiber, and riboflavin.  The unsaturated fat in almonds can help promote heart health and reduce bad cholesterol levels. 

Spinach and Leafy Green Vegetables:  Nature’s own multi-vitamin and mineral supplement!  Leafy greens are packed with nutrients such as folate which is important for women of child-bearing age, since folate can help prevent neural tube birth defects. Multiple studies have suggested that dark-leafy vegetables may significantly lower a person's risk of developing diabetes type 2.  

Blueberries:   Fiber rich blueberries are an excellent source of antioxidant substances that promote healthy brains, waistlines and hearts.  Texas Woman's University found that blueberries help reduce obesity. Polyphenols in blueberries have been shown to increase the breakdown of fat cells while reducing the development of new fat cells.

Apples:   Antioxidants found in apples help you look younger by fighting free radicals-substances that can damage cells and cause undesirable changes that are involved in the aging process.  Apples naturally clean your teeth and may also reduce risk for gingivitis, bacteria in the mouth that can migrate through the body and promote heart disease. 

Green Tea / Tea:  The subject of multiple research studies, green tea may fight cancer and heart disease, and help prevent dementia, diabetes, and stroke.   Drinking green tea will help to keep you hydrated, fighting fatigue while providing your heart with a hearty dose of antioxidants.  The antioxidants in can help block reduce cholesterol, improve artery function and significantly reduce high blood pressure.

Avocado:  Avocados are a good source of fiber, potassium, and vitamins C, E, K, folate, and B6. One-fifth of a medium-large avocado has 50 calories, 4 grams of heart-healthy unsaturated fat, and 2 grams fiber. The monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) in avocados can actually help you lose belly fat, a risk factor for heart disease and even some fertility problems.

Mom-pleasing recipes:

Avocado-blueberry muffins

Serves:  12

Ingredients

2cups Meijer white whole wheat flour

2 tsp. Meijer baking powder

1/2 tsp. Meijer baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 ripe, Fresh California Avocado, seeded and peeled

3/4 cup Meijer granulated sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. McCormick® vanilla extract

1 cup Meijer plain yogurt

6oz. (1 ¼ cup) fresh blueberries

Optional Streusel Topping:

1/4 cup Meijer white whole wheat flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3 Tbsp. I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter trans-fat free spread, softened

1tsp. McCormick® ground cinnamon

Directions:

Streusel Topping: 1.Whisk together the flour, sugar, and cinnamon. Add the butter, and mix in using your fingers to rub the butter into the dry ingredients. Set aside.

Muffins:

1.       Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper liners.

2.       In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

3.       In a large mixing bowl, beat avocado until almost smooth. Add sugar and beat until well blended.  Add the egg, beating until completely combined.  Add the vanilla and the yogurt and mix well. 

4.       Put half of the flour mixture into the batter and mix until just combined.  Stir in the remaining flour and mix until just blended. Gently fold in the blueberries. 

5.       Using a spoon or an ice cream scoop, divide the batter among the 12 cups. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the batter in the 12 cups, dividing evenly. 

6.       Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a wooden tester comes out clean. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes before removing. 

Enjoy with a hot cup of green tea!

Nutrition information per serving:  Calories 192; Total Fat 6 g (Sat 2.5g, Trans 0 g, Poly 0 g, Mono 2.5 g); Cholesterol 25 mg; Sodium 250 mg; Carbohydrates 31g; Fiber 2.5g; Sugars 17g; Protein 4g.

Grilled Nature Raised chicken and berry salad:

Serves 4

Ingredients:

3/4 to 1 pound skinless, boneless Nature Raised® chicken breast halves

1 tsp. McCormick® Grill Mates Montreal Chicken Seasoning

1/3 cup slivered almonds

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2-3 Tbsp. Meijer granulated sugar

1/2 cup Meijer vegetable oil

2 Tbsp. Water

1/2 cup Vidalia or sweet white onion, small diced

1 tsp. McCormick® ground mustard

3/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. McCormick® white or black pepper

3 cups Dole® hearts of Romaine

3 cups Earthbound Farm® baby spinach

1/2 cup sliced fresh strawberries

1/2 cup fresh blueberries

Optional:  4 oz. crumbled goat cheese, feta cheese or gorgonzola cheese

Directions:

1.       Preheat the grill for high heat.  Lightly oil the grill grate.

2.       Season both sides of chicken with McCormick® Montreal chicken seasoning and grill 5 to 8 minutes on each side, or until juices run clear (internal temperature reads 165?F with meat thermometer).  Remove from heat, set aside.

3.       Meanwhile, place almonds in a dry skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until fragrant, stirring frequently, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside.

4.       In a blender, combine the red wine vinegar, water, sugar, vegetable oil, onion, mustard, salt, and pepper.  Process until smooth.

5.       Combine Romaine lettuce and spinach and arrange on serving plates.

6.       Slice chicken into strips and place on top of lettuce. Top with strawberries, blueberries and toasted almonds. Drizzle with the dressing to serve.  If desired, top with 1-2 tbsp. cheese.

Nutrition Information (per serving):  Calories 442, Fat 28g, Cholesterol 76 mg, Sodium 487 mg, Carbohydrate 19g, Sugar 13g, Fiber 4g, Protein 28g.