A hunk of Italian bread brushed with oil, rubbed with garlic, topped with juicy tomatoes, sprinkled with basil leaves: bruschetta is more than an appetizer; it is truly a slice of good health. Rarely do you find a snack whose every ingredient tastes great and nourishes you as well.
Made using the right ingredients, bruschetta offers an impressive array of nutrients. There is no frying involved, and it is easy to put together. So, move over, fatty potato chips and sinful cheese dips. Let’s discover the impressive benefits of this simple Italian appetizer.
Choose A Whole Wheat Loaf
In restaurants, the base of a bruschetta is often bread made from refined flour. By using whole grain baguette or a rustic loaf at home, you retain the fiber and bran in your bread, making it a digestion-friendly, low fat and more filling alternative. You also get about 2.5 grams of protein, and one slice of Italian bread can deliver about 5 to 10 percent of the iron we need each day.
Select Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The heart-healthy unsaturated fat in olive oil helps lower your levels of “bad” cholesterol. By choosing the extra virgin variety, you get a stronger concentration of phytochemicals that have anti-inflammatory properties. Besides, its fruity fragrance seeps into the warm bread and offsets the sharpness of garlic quite beautifully. Olive oil also contains vitamins E and K, as well as anti-oxidant beta carotenes.
Get the Benefits of Garlic
Packed with antioxidants, garlic gives the immune system a power boost. New York Times reporter Tara Parker-Pope writes that garlic has the power to increase our natural supply of hydrogen sulfide, which is why it may protect against breast cancer, colon cancer and possibly heart disease. You can cut up and rub the garlic on the warm bread, or puree it and press it in. The traditional way is to cut a clove and brush it on.
Add Fresh & Juicy Tomatoes
With their high lycopene content, tomatoes are a rich source of Vitamins A and C. They are low in calories and contain small amounts of fiber, folate and vitamin K. Play with different varieties of tomato on your bruschetta. From lovely cherry tomatoes to colorful heirloom ones, bruschetta loves them all; the crispy surface of the bread eagerly soaking up the juiciness of the tomatoes.
Power it up with Colorful Peppers
Low in calories and loaded with immunity-improving Vitamin C, bell peppers add visual beauty as well as healthy goodness to bruschetta. Their Vitamin B6 content helps renew cells and improve the health of the nervous system. Cook them for a short period on low heat, and they retain most of their nutrient-rich flavonoids as well as their sweet, almost fruity flavor. Here is more information on the many health benefits of bell peppers.
Boost the Health Quotient with Basil
There is no doubt about it: tomatoes and basil are made for each other. And when they meet atop a bruschetta, the romance just deepens. Those aromatic basil leaves contain flavonoids, compounds that work as antioxidants and protect you from disease. Just five leaves of basil gift you trace amounts of folate, potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C, plus 10.4 micrograms of vitamin K, which is about 12 percent of what you need daily. Growing your own herbs adds something special to your food: a sense of pride and joy. They are so easy to grow, too. Here is a fine tutorial on how to plant the herb.
Sprinkle Some Black Pepper
The fruit of the black pepper plant does double duty as spice and medicine. This pepper is a source of manganese, iron, potassium and dietary fiber. Black pepper is also a very good anti-inflammatory agent.
Create a Healthy + Delicious Bruschetta
Once you have assembled your ingredients, bruschetta takes just a few minutes to arrive on your table. One serving of bruschetta that is made with one slice of whole grain Italian bread, 1 teaspoon of olive oil, chopped up tomato and a few basil leaves contains 124 calories and 5.5 grams of fat, of which less than 1 gram is saturated. This serving supplies about 2.8 grams of protein and 1.2 grams of fiber.
Add More Nutrients
The bread is your canvas–fill it with the ingredients of your imagination. Bruschetta with calcium-rich mozzarella cheese is a worldwide favorite. Add some chopped olives; slather the bread with pesto. What are your favorite bruschetta toppings?