Are You Getting The Most Nutrition From Your Calories?

cilantro-corianderWith National Nutrition Month upon us in March this is always a good opportunity to think about choosing the most nutritionally-packed foods possible from each food group. Nutrient-rich foods and beverages provide the most nutrition per calorie and provide vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates and other essential nutrients.

Here are some practical ways to add more nutrient-rich foods to your diet as recommended by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

  • Serve meals packed with multiple nutrient-rich foods broth-based soups that are loaded with beans, vegetables and lean meats or chili topped with low-fat yogurt. Organic plain yogurt is usually best.

  • Eat oatmeal packed with raisins, cherries, blueberries and dried cranberries topped with fat-free milk for creaminess.*

  • Make dessert drinks that include tropical fruits such as pineapple and mango and blend with low-fat milk and flavored yogurt. Yogurt parfaits or smoothies with blueberries or strawberries are also great. *

  • Serve sandwiches loaded with lean ham, turkey chicken, roast beef, tomato, cucumber and avocado on whole wheat or rye bread.

  • Cut ready-to-eat vegetables for a nutrient-dense snack - carrots, peppers , cucumbers, broccoli, celery, cauliflower, radishes and snap peas.

  • Make low-sugar, nutrient-rich drinks such as 100% fruit juice and low-fat or fat-free milk.*

  • Use nutrient-dense toppings such as reduced-fat cheese and chopped nuts.

  • To reduce calories when eating out, order salads with low-calorie dressings, grilled meats and seafoods, baked potatoes with salsa and vegetables.

  • Limit your sugars and reduce your major sources of fat by cutting back on fatty meats including bacon, sausage and hotdogs, sodas, fruit and sports drinks, cookies, cakes, ice cream.

*(We recommend organic milk as the best choice because it doesnt contain added synthetic hormones and antibiotics.)

Here are some reduced-calorie ideas to enhance the flavor of your dishes as well.

  • Intensify the flavors of fish, meat and poultry with high-heat cooking techniques grilling, broiling and pan-searing.

  • Use flavor-packed condiments such as salsas, horseradish, chutney, wasabi, tapenade and bean purees.

  • Spice up your dishes with hot pepper sauce as well as sweet, hot and dried red, yellow and green peppers.

  • Flavor your soups, salads and sauces with flavored balsamic or rice vinegar.

  • Grill or roast vegetables in a very hot oven or grill, spray or brush them lightly with oil to keep them from drying out and sprinkle them with herbs.

  • Add flavor to dishes with acidic ingredients such as squeezed lemon, lime and orange citrus. You can also grate the peels of these and sprinkle on your dishes.

  • Make a meat or poultry sauce out of caramelized onions.

  • Use flavor-bursting ingredients such as cilantro, chipotle pepper pomegranate seeds.

  • Make reduction sauces by simmering and concentrating the flavors of meat, fish and poultry stocks and use as a glaze or gravy.

  • Use fuller flavor whole grains such as brown and wild rice, quinoa and amaranth.

Achieving balance and building a healthier diet can be simple and stress-free, says Debbi Beauvais, registered dietician nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Selecting nutrient-rich foods and beverages first is a way to make better choices within your daily eating plan.

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