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Shiitake mushroomIf you’re looking for some fresh ideas for 2014, here are some expert-recommended choices to try:

Cacao
Once roasted, these sweet yet slightly bitter beans are turned into cocoa, or conventional chocolate. But in their original form, they have a surprising amount of health benefits, says Ashley Koff, R.D., author of Mom Energy: A Simple Plan to Live Life Fully Charged. Cacao is an excellent source of magnesium. Koff recommends adding cacao powder to hot milk for a healthier hot chocolate, or sprinkling cacao nibs (found at health food stores) onto cereal for breakfast.

Kefir
Imagine if yogurt and milk joined forces to create a superdrink­­, chock-full of good-for-you probiotics and protein, with less sugar and lactose than regular milk—that’s what kefir is. “Kefir is like probiotics on-the-go,” says KIWI Advisory Board member Kate Geagan, R.D. She recommends tossing a carton in with your kid’s lunch as a milk substitute, or adding it to a smoothie to boost its nutritional content.

Shiitake mushrooms
Forget the white button mushrooms you’d find on pizza. Meaty shiitake mushrooms are the secret to better health, says Koff. They’re a great source of B vitamins and zinc, plus they provide fiber and protein. They even combat the bacteria that cause bad breath, says Koff. She recommends adding them to burgers and meatloaf, or, thanks to their mild flavor, hiding them in smoothies or baked goods.

What food is your family incorporating into their diets in 2014? Sound off in the comments section below, or tweet us @KiwiMagazine.

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