It’s hard to plan for the right balance of all the important nutrients — antioxidants, fiber, omega-3 acids, calcium — in every meal. When you go on a diet, restricting your calories also sometimes means getting less of the good stuff. Whether your goal is weight loss or just improving the vitamins and minerals in your meals, here’s how to take virtually any dish (even snacks) and up the nutritional content.
Don’t Toss Those Potato Peels
Are you in the habit of peeling your potatoes and throwing out the peels? If so, you’re also tossing out a significant portion of this vegetable’s nutritional value. Leave the skins on when baking fries or cutting them up for casseroles or main courses. It’s less work, it adds some color contrast to the dish, and you’re getting your money’s worth in terms of the nutrition those potatoes provide.
When you do have to peel (like for mashed potatoes), save the peels and put them on a baking sheet with a dab of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake at 400-degrees for about 10-15 minutes and serve as an appetizer or side dish.
Skip the Sugary Drinks
Most Americans drink their daily sugar allowance. Omitting sweet tea, soft drinks, and sports drinks can halve the sugar and calorie contents of a meal. Substitute with pure water, or ice water with a slice of lemon. Or, try some fresh juice with your meals, just be sure it’s 100-percent juice and not a sugary “juice cocktail”.
Boost the Flavor and Nutrients With Berries or Cherries
A handful of berries or cherries adds lots of color and flavor to a dish, as well as nutrients that are especially full of memory-boosting properties. Cook berries and cherries with the meat entree, or add them to a side salad. Cherries and berries pair well with green salads, and make a simple fruit salad something special.
Include a Few Nuts
Nuts are packed with nutrients, but their calorie content is high – so many people think that nuts are out of the question for weight loss. However, a small amount of nuts gives you the nutritional punch without the calorie and fat putting you over the top. If you’re on a diet, you might not be getting enough of the nutrients that help support heart health and brain function without eating a few nuts. Toss a half cup of nuts into a salad, casserole, or add a few to your smoothie to make it more like an ice cream sundae.
Up the Nutritional Value on Sandwiches
Is sandwich night the worst dinner of your week in terms of nutrition? You can improve the nutritional value of any sandwich with a slice of fruit. Apples and oranges pair especially nicely with ham and cheese, while grapes go great with tuna fish. If you’re opposed to fruit on a sandwich, simply serve it on the side.
Adding nutrition to a meal means simply finding a quick, easy way to toss in something with lots of vitamins and minerals – without adding things like calories, fat, and sodium. Any meal can be improved with a simple side dish like sweet potatoes, green beans, corn on the cob, or English peas. These easy-to-make side dishes deliver nutrients – without piling on the naughty stuff.