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Diversify Your Diet with Fun Foods from Around the World

It’s easy to get into a meatless Monday, taco Tuesday, spaghetti Wednesday dinner routine. And planning your meals simplifies grocery shopping, food prep and cooking. But the problem is, it can get boring.

If you’re ready to shake things up in the kitchen, Elise Heeney, RD, a clinical dietitian with Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center in Sun City West, AZ shares these tips for working some healthy and tasty Mexican, Japanese, Indian and Greek foods into your routine.

Mexican

What to try: Jicama, a crunchy, refreshing root vegetable you’ll often find in Mexican cuisine.

Why it’s healthy: Jicama is high in fiber and water and is a good source of vitamin C. It’s also low in calories and fat.

How to eat it: Replace tortillas with jicama wraps for a lower-carb alternative (you can find them at Trader Joe’s). Pair thin strips of jicama with citrus fruits and avocado in a salad. Or eat it as a snack—peel it, slice it into strips and sprinkle it with lemon or lime juice and chili powder.

Try these Mexican herbs and spices, too: Coriander (cilantro), Mexican oregano, cumin, paprika, cinnamon and ground chili powder can add nutrition, flavor and variety to your meals.

Japanese

What to try: Miso soup, which is made from miso, green onions, seaweed and tofu.

Why it’s healthy: Miso is made from fermented soybeans and provides probiotics, which can help improve digestion and support your immune system. Tofu is high in protein and low in fat. It’s also a good source of calcium, which helps strengthen your bones, and isoflavones, which have antioxidant properties.

How to eat it: Miso soup is a great vegetarian meal or side dish. And incorporating more plant-based meals can help reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Try these Japanese herbs and spices, too: Ginger contains antioxidants and can help fight inflammation. It can also help reduce nausea. Wasabi has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Indian

What to try: Dal, a satisfying vegetarian meal typically made from red lentils, onion, tomatoes, lemon juice and herbs and spices like garlic, cinnamon, turmeric, cardamom and paprika. You can serve it with brown rice or naan (Indian flatbread).

Why it’s healthy: Lentils are high in protein and fiber and low in fat. Dal’s healthy spices can help support your immune system and fight inflammation.

Try these Indian spices, too: Turmeric and cumin contain antioxidants and can help fight inflammation.

Greek

What to try: Tzatziki, a versatile dish made with plain Greek yogurt, garlic, olive oil, dill and mint. You can drizzle it over main dishes like salads, grilled meats or vegetables or eat it as a dip with sliced tomatoes and cucumbers.

Why it’s healthy: Nonfat plain Greek yogurt is high in protein, low in saturated fats and free of added sugars. It also provides probiotics. Olive oil adds heart-healthy fats, and fresh herbs add antioxidants and anti-inflammatories along with flavor. Tzatziki can be a healthier alternative to high-fat, high-sodium dips and sauces.

Try these Greek herbs and spices, too: You can add dill and mint to lots of foods for a boost in antioxidants and flavor. And garlic (technically a vegetable but used as a spice) can support your immune system.

The bottom line

When you want to break away from bland meals, try simple, satisfying, nutritious options from around the world. If you’d like some healthy eating tips from an expert, reach out to Banner Health.

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