Today is no ordinary Friday: It's International Women's Day, so I'm highlighting three superfoods (and recipes) that can help enhance a woman's health. These flavorful items contain nutrients to promote radiant hair and glowing skin, bolster bones and minimize bloating so you ladies can get out there and conquer the world. Talk about girl power! (Of course, feel free to share with the men in your lives, too. After all, we are a benevolent breed.)
1. Bell peppers
You may think of an orange as the ultimate vitamin C star, but bell peppers are also packed with the immune-boosting nutrient. In fact, one bell pepper has twice the amount (what?). Enjoy one pepper a day and you'll have more than covered your daily requirement.
While most people think of vitamin C primarily as a cold fighter, the vitamin can help promote healthy skin and hair. It also increases the absorption of plant-based iron often found in leafy greens, beans and nuts; not getting enough iron has been associated with hair loss.
In my house, we love munching on crunchy raw bell pepper strips, and they're a regular addition to salads, pasta dishes, frittatas, and stir-fries at dinnertime. Another common pepper pick in the Bauer house: These ooey gooey, Cheesy Pizza Peppers.
This superstar veggie is low in calories, high in fiber and loaded with so many beneficial nutrients, including calcium, a mineral crucial for bone health. It’s one of the only greens to contain the bone-building nutrient. Keep in mind that vitamin D enhances the absorption of calcium, so try to pair it with a vitamin D-rich food, like dairy products, fatty fish or eggs.
Skimping on calcium can lead to low bone mass, a condition called osteopenia. If left untreated, this can result in osteoporosis, a disorder characterized by porous and fragile bones that affects more than 10 million U.S. adults, 80 percent of whom are women.
One of my favorite ways to enjoy broccoli is simply misting a large batch of florets with olive oil, sprinkling on some seasonings, and roasting them in the oven (at 420°) until the tops are brown and crispy. Another fun, tasty and game-changing way to use the veggie: Make my Spaghetti Squash Mac and Cheese and top it with (drumroll, please) low-carb “broccoli breadcrumbs.” This dish contains plenty of bone-strengthening calcium and some vitamin D. Grab your fork and dig in.
3. Skinless chicken breast
Feeling a little bloated? You’re not alone! As many as 30 percent of the general population are impacted by “functional bloating,” or bloating not accompanied by any disease. Up to 96 percent of those who deal with gut disorders report suffering from distention and discomfort, and it affects women more than men. What you eat — or don’t eat — can help beat the bloat.
Experts have found success with an eating plan called the low-FODMAP diet. One food that’s virtually FODMAP-free and easy to digest is the chicken breast. There are so many simple and delicious ways to prepare this versatile ingredient. Of course, it's a no-brainer to put it on a salad, boiled, poached or grilled. Or, try making my simple and delicious Chicken Paillard recipe. It comes together in no time and calls for just a handful of ingredients, making it the perfect meal for busy weeknights. I also love it because it's fancy enough to serve for company. I typically top mine with this Lemon Vinaigrette to complement the subtle citrus flavor in the chicken.