Superfoods from Grandma’s Kitchen

Do you think for a second that your grandma and grandpa ate chia seeds? Seriously, the concept of “clean eating” wasn’t even in their vocabulary. And when nana made a Sunday family dinner, she never even thought to use coconut oil instead of whole fat dairy in her cookies, cakes, and pies. However, back in the day, granny did serve up some pretty dope super foods without realizing it.

We’re going old school with seven super foods that grandma is bringing back…

Brussel Sprouts

You probably turned your nose up at grandma’s Brussel sprouts (or what Popeye called “muscle sprouts”) at family dinners.  However, a study in the Carcinogenesis journal, found that these mini cabbages are literally packed with some serious nutrients, and can even help prevent cancer!

In fact, a mere cup of the smelly cruciferous veggies packs 240-percent of your recommended daily amount of vitamin K1 and an amazing 130-percent of your daily vitamin C quota, plus admirable potassium, fibre, manganese, and B vitamins to boot. The antioxidant-potent Brussel sprout can be cut in half and sautéed in a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar for a healthy, cancer-fighting side dish.


Just like its mini cousin (the Brussel sprout) mentioned above, cabbage is among the healthiest—not only cruciferous vegetables—but overall vegetables on granny’s shopping list. A staple in Nana’s famous cabbage rolls and bacon casserole, shredded cabbage is a filling yet super low calorie superfood.

Not only is it low calorie, but cabbage is also jam-packed with phytonutrients, which several studies link to reducing the risk of certain cancers—such as bladder, breast, colon, liver, lung, and stomach. Research from the National Cancer Institute found that cabbage contains Indole-3-carbinol (an indole) and sulforaphane (an isothiocyanate), which have been tied to anticancer development in studies on rats and mice.


You likely don’t want to think about grandma and grandpa eating prunes or drinking prune juice…and the resulting consequences. However, irregularity and constipation do happen to the best of us. And since prunes are a super source of fiber—they can go a long way to helping maintain regularity.

In addition to making bowel function more comfortable, prunes come packed with anthocyanins, a type of anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory antioxidant that wards of chronic illnesses (i.e., cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and even obesity). So the next time granny offers you a smear of prune jam, a can of stewed prunes, or prunes in your oats, go ahead and eat up.

Cottage Cheese

Perched on Granny’s lap, she likely recited the nursery rhyme, “Little Miss. Muffet sat on a tuffet, eating her curds and whey,” while enjoying a nice bowl of cottage cheese and fresh berries. Well, Miss. Muffet was a fan of this low fat, low calorie, protein-rich snack and so was grandma!

In fact, according to, a ½ cup of lowfat cottage cheese contains a whopping 16-grams of pure protein power. Plus, if you opt for cultured cottage cheese, you’ll also help boost your digestive health thanks to the probiotics within.

Navy Beans

My Nana put navy beans in everything—from soup to chili. The fibrous and creamy white bean not only creates a hearty stock for soup or stew, it delivers roughly half of your daily fiber in just one cup! In fact, navy beans boast a whole lot of iron, protein, potassium, zinc, and fiber, but they remain quite low in fat.

Plus, fiber rich foods, like navy beans, keep you satiated for hours after a meal, so you tend to snack and binge eat less often. And since they’re a good plant source of iron, your muscles will stay strong and energized all day long.


Do you think granny ever considered the grapefruit diet? Heck no! However, mine still cut a pink grapefruit in half every single morning to share with my grandpa. Sure, she sprinkled each half with a teaspoon of sugar, but still!

Studies show that Nana’s breakfast habit actually aided weight maintenance and even weight loss (with no sugar sprinkles). According to a study from WebMD, folks who consumed half a grapefruit prior to each meal, were able to shed an average of 3-pounds over a 12-week time frame (while maintaining a healthy diet). If you have a sweet tooth, use a bit of cinnamon spice instead.


If Nana ever prepared lunches, she likely tucked a yellow banana in every paper baggie. We often take the banana for granted because they’re so cheap and available. However, the banana is one sweet, natural treat that’s high in pectin.

Research from the Canadian Diabetes Association shows that pectin, a form of fiber, actually helps manage blood glucose levels and keeps blood sugar stable. Soluble fiber from bananas also reduces cholesterol and prevents constipation.

Julie Ching, MS, RDN, CDE

Julie Ching, MS, RDN, CDE

Julie Ching is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator in Los Angeles. She decided to become a Dietitian after traveling through Europe, South America, and Asia and discovered a passion for food. She now works with people of all ages and varying disease states to improve their health. She is passionate about teaching people about nutrition so they can live their best life while still considering their cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.