7 Surprising Health Foods of 2011 ...

2011 is the year for healthy foods and getting fit, it seems like. Well, it's always that way toward the beginning of the year. You're so excited about your New Year's resolutions, totally ready to eat healthy, exercise, and get fit. It can be hard to keep up with those hopeful aspirations, but it helps if you know which foods are going to be the best for you in the coming year. That being said, here are 7 surprising health foods of 2011!

1. Chickpeas

Chickpeas are going to be more than just the base ingredient in falafal and hummus. These peas are becoming a sort of superstar vegetable – or, rather, legume. Even Subway is incorporating chickpeas into their menu. A lot of entrees in restaurants are going to be made of legumes, and this one is sure to top the list.

2. Bitter Greens

As a Southern girl, I grew up on collard greens and have never been disappointed about the fact. Well, kale and other, similar kinds of bitter greens are going to be seriously in this year; you'll be seeing them just about everywhere. Swiss chard, broccoli rabe, turnip greens, and kale are all going to be popping up where you least expect them. Kale, especially, is delicious in salads, not to mention in soups and it even tastes great in pasta.

3. Winter Squashes

Winter squash is a wonderfully delicious, wonderfully healthy food you'll be seeing this year. That includes such delicacies as butternut squash, usually served as a puree, and pumpkin. However, these beta carotene vegetables will also be seen in soups and pastas, not to mention desserts.

4. Salmon

Salmon is going to be a really popular fish in 2011, because it is healthy on several levels. Especially when it's caught in the wild, salmon is not at all contaminated, plus it has tons of omega 3 fatty acids, which are incredibly good for your heart. So, if you're looking to eat more heart healthy as well as simply more healthy in general, this fresh fish is definitely the way to go.

5. Almonds

In the world of nuts, 2011 is the year for almonds, which are full of nutrients. They're rich in fiber, magnesium, calcium, iron, and riboflavin. They make a great snack, they're excellent for your heart, and they make a great garnish or secondary ingredient. Plus they're delicious!

6. Red Beans

Oh, this one makes me happy. I love red beans. Whether they're kidney beans or the smaller red beans, you'll be seeing them around a lot, and should incorporate them into your own kitchen as well. These beans are full of iron, potassium, and phosphorus, just to name a few. They're a great way to get plenty of protein without a lot of fat.

7. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are no longer just a Thanksgiving staple. You can already find tons of restaurants that offer sweet potato fries and chips as alternative choices to French fries. These, too, have a ton of beta carotene and they are chock full of vitamin A and vitamin C, plus B-6, potassium, and fiber. Better still, they have no fat!

You need only take a look at some of the major health food trends for 2011 to get excited. Eating healthy has never been more delicious – or more readily available. What kinds of healthy foods are you looking forward to enjoying this year?

Top Photo Credit: @10