If You Don’t Eat These Foods Together, You’re Doing It Wrong

Hey guys!

I’m all about finding ways to get the most nutrition out of my diet, and I love passing what I learn along to you! And guess what? I had no idea until recently that eating certain foods together actually maximizes nutrition! How cool is that?!

So what are some of the best nutrition power couples? Let’s find out!

steak and red bell pepper food pairing maximize nutrition

1. Steak + Bell Pepper

Steak is a great source of iron, but pairing it with a source of vitamin C like bell pepper can help your body absorb it even more! Don’t worry, this works with other sources of iron too, like:

  • Red meat (beef or pork)
  • Fish
  • Beans
  • Turkey (dark meat)
  • Quinoa

And you can pair those foods with other foods rich in vitamin C like:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Strawberries

This food pairing is especially helpful if you eat a lot of plant-based foods that contain non-heme iron, which your body doesn’t absorb as well as heme iron from animal products.

2. Veggies + Olive Oil

Veggies are PACKED with powerful nutrients called carotenoids. They give fruits and veggies their vibrant color and they work as antioxidants in the body. But here’s the thing – your body needs FAT to absorb them! So, pair your colorful veggies and greens with an oil-based dressing to help your body absorb every bit of nutrition it can.

You could also add eggs (with the yolk), nuts or seeds to your salad for the same benefit. All of these options are great sources of fat with a bonus of a little protein 🙂

bulbs of garlic and tri color quinoa food pairing

3. Garlic and Onions + Whole Grains

And here I was thinking that cooking my quinoa with a little garlic and onion just made it taste like heaven. NOPE! Even better!

Your body doesn’t usually absorb a ton of iron and zinc from plant-based foods by themselves. But combining these foods with a little sulfur can help your body absorb plant-based iron and zinc more efficiently! Garlic and onion are great sources of sulfur, sooo voila! Flavor those grains with garlic and onion and you’ll maximize your nutrition from plant-based foods.

4. Turmeric + Black Pepper

Okay. This one kind of blew my mind! So not only is turmeric delicious, but it’s also kind of magical thanks to something called curcumin. This compound is an antioxidant and natural anti-inflammatory. But did you know that black pepper helps your body absorb MORE curcumin? I didn’t either!

So next time you’re whipping up something tasty with turmeric, sprinkle in some fresh black pepper to get the most benefit.

5. Rice + Beans

If you’re vegetarian, you’ve probably heard of complementary plant proteins. Some health experts recommend eating certain plant-based proteins together to give your body all of the essential amino acids to make a complete protein. Examples of these pairings include:

  • Beans + rice
  • Peanut butter + whole wheat bread
  • Hummus + whole wheat pita bread
  • Salad with beans + seeds
  • Tofu + brown rice or quinoa
fresh salmon and green kale food pairing

6. Fish + Kale 

Calcium and vitamin D are BFF’s, so it makes sense that pairing foods rich in these nutrients will maximize nutrition, right?!

Calcium found in veggies like kale isn’t absorbed very well without a little help. So what do you do? Bring in that vitamin D! Fatty fish like salmon and tuna is a great vitamin D-rich option, but you could also try:

  • Egg yolk
  • Mushrooms
  • Sardines
  • Cheese

It definitely doesn’t hurt to pair animal-based sources of calcium like yogurt and cheese with a good source of vitamin D listed above.

Focus on variety to maximize nutrition

These food pairings are a great reminder that variety is key for a healthy diet! 

While it’s good to know little tricks to maximize the nutrition in your meals, it’s not necessary to stress about it. If you’re eating lots of different, colorful whole foods most of the time, chances are you’re doing an AMAZING job giving your body exactly what it needs.

17 thoughts on “If You Don’t Eat These Foods Together, You’re Doing It Wrong”

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  1. Sara says:

    Iam on IF for 4 months it’s pretty good and easy to follow. I also eat
    healthy whole food i cut out on sugar and preservatives. Along with piit and some weightlifting It helped me reaching my weight goal

  2. Boop says:

    Cassey , I think you are our role model!!! Even though you might not be a celebrity you are mine role model. I’m pretty sure a lot of people have you as a role model. I love your videos they inspire me so much.Thank you for making videos!

  3. Dr says:

    Wings + beer. Just kidding. Your list is incredible. Thanks for all you do for us!

    1. Inna says:

      Made my day! 😂

  4. Nadia says:

    Hi Cassey! Love your blog, and your videos! Currently doing the booty challenge, did the ab challenge as well and felling so strong and much more healthier that i did 2 weeks ago, so thank you for motivating me! I wanted to ask you a question, i see a lot of recipes with nut butter and nuts and all, but I’m allergic to peanuts, and other nuts just make my moth feel tingly, I just don’t like any type of tree nuts, the only nuts that I can eat (and actually find good haha) are cashews, but the cashew butter doesn’t taste good at all (i kinda wish that i liked nuts cause there’s so much you can do with it), but i wanted to know, do you have any substitutes for nuts that i can add in my shake or on my oatmeal or as a snack in between my meals or something? I’ve tried a lot of diets and working out and everything and it seems to not work for me, i tried an egg diet and lost 10kg (22lbs) which was awesome! But after that i hated eggs ahah and when I started to actually like them again I also started roaccutane (mostly known as Isotretinoin) for my skin (cause it was horrible and I had no other option left) but with roaccutane, you’re not suppose to eat any vitamin A foods, and obviously eggs have Vitamin A in, so that plan also went South, do you perhaps have any tips for me, like meals ideas or any tips that can help me substitute nuts and eggs? (ps. Sorry for telling my whole life story to you) but Thanks for motivating people and helping them change their lives! Love you!

    1. Lucy says:

      Hi Nadia!
      I’m also allergic to most nuts, and I don’t really like the ones I can eat – they taste like playdough to me!
      Have you tried ‘fake’ peanut butter? I like a brand called WowButter which is made from soya, and I think there is one called SunButter made from sunflower seeds. I haven’t tried the SunButter but the WowButter tastes really good, and I read it is even higher in protein than peanut butter! I’ve been having some stirred into porridge for breakfast recently, and it’s also really good with slices of apple or banana as a snack.

  5. Capri says:

    Eating healthy can be hard as a picky eater, so I agree with Gugu and Jaz that expanding your palette is the way to go! One thing people don’t realize is that it sometimes takes 7 to 12 tries to like a new food, so if you don’t like something the first try, don’t give up! Being an adventurous eater helps you appreciate so many more cultures and frees you up to experiment with your diet. Whenever I try something new I have to remind myself to push out negative views I might have of the food and look forward to loving what I’m eating. Push yourself out of your comfort zone by mixing things up, and be patient with yourself. Becoming an adventurous eater is worth the wait!

  6. Aiden says:

    I am also a teenage girl who weighs 125 pounds and 5’6”. I have a problem with eating different types of food because I’m a picky eater. Is there a solution or would I just have to try my best to eat what I can?

    1. Jaz says:

      If you feel you’re not getting enough nutrients through your diet because you’re a picky eater, my advice would be to take a multivitamin for vitamins and/or minerals you may be lacking in. Or as you said, try your best to slowly expand your palette so you may become more accustomed to enjoying a wide variety of foods. Baby steps. Also, take my advice with a grain of salt, I’m not an expert. I’m just a college student trying to stay healthy haha. I’d recommend researching and/or talking to your primary doctor. Good luck! 🙂

    2. Gugu says:

      I was a HUGE picky eater, to the point where I’d eat a grape based on its shape and I pretty much couldn’t stand any vegetable. I eventually cut down on my sugar and salt intake and my tastebuds changed. I could taste the different flavours vegetables offered and I started to enjoy what they tasted like and fruits taste even sweeter now. My advice would either be to reduce your sugar intake or try different kinds of vegetables, there’s so many out there you’ll be stuck for choice! And season them. if it’s the texture of food you struggle with which I did too, maybe think about why you struggle with the texture and think about a food that you do like that has a similar texture to the food you’re trying. For example I hated roasted aubergine until I thought it’s pretty much like a super-soft pasta. Hope that kinda helps 🙂

  7. I didn’t know that thing about iron plus vitamin C! Thank you so much for sharing. I love my steak rare.

  8. Ann says:

    Dear Cassey,
    I am a teenage girl who weighs 117 pounds and I’m 5’5″. What’s the best method of weight loss according to my age?

    1. Jess says:

      Eat good foods and exercise! When I was a teenager I thought I was too overweight even though I had a healthy BMI (like you – 117lbs at 5’5″ isn’t overweight at all!) Too often we think the number on the scale tells us about how thin we are, when it’s really not true. I was what is often called “skinny-fat,” at this weight. I was thinish, but I still had some excess weight I wanted to lose to look thinner and be more like my friend who was super skinny. I ended up with some disordered eating and got so thin that I couldn’t do anything fun – I got too exhausted to even walk around the mall with my friends and I couldn’t stay awake when we wanted to do things at night – I was killing my body.

      The best thing to do is to exercise to build and maintain strong muscles. I actually ended up weighing a little bit more (119) but I look thinner than I did at 117 and even when I weighed less than that. Building up muscle tones up your body and when your muscles are toned, you look skinnier and feel better. Don’t worry too much about the number on the scale (I know it’s nearly impossible, but try) and focus more on what you look like and if you like that. Now, I have visible abs, my legs are strong, and I’m working on building up my arm and back muscles. I like the way I look so much more and I feel great and healthy. I can do pretty much anything (run long distances, hike, walk around with friends for hours) I have great energy to keep me awake through school and able to easily pay attention, and my boyfriend thinks I look better than I did before.

      1. Ann says:

        Thank you so much, Jess. This was really helpful. I am going to work on doing what you said. I am glad that there are supportive people out there like you.

      2. Amazing advice. We need more people telling youngsters about the right practices for being healthy. Keep being awesome!! xx

  9. Annika says:

    Dear Cassey,
    I am a teenage girl who is trying really hard to lose weight. I am 5′ 5″ and I weigh 117 pounds. Do you know if weight loss subliminals aide weight loss?
    -Generally Confused

  10. Fitperson says: