I am sure you’re familiar with the upsizing concept at food outlets – where you pay a little extra and get a larger portion of chips or soft drink. This is nutrition in reverse: getting extra fat, sugar and/or salt with little or no nutritional benefit. Instead we could be opting for nutrient dense foods or at least finding ways to make meals more nutritious – especially in nutrients we could be lacking. Below are 3 steps to help you increase the nutritional value of your meals.
Start by deciding which meal or snack would be a good starting point. Ideally this would be a meal or snack that you regularly have, one which is relaxed, however … may be getting a bit monotonous!
Start brainstorming ways you can upsize the nutritional benefit of this chosen meal or snack. Don’t over think it! Just decide on one ingredient you could swap or easily add to a dish you are already preparing/cooking. Below are some examples to get you started:
• sprinkle seeds on top of your usual breakfast cereal or muesli
to add extra fibre, protein, omega 3 fats and minerals
• add sauerkraut to a leftover meat sandwich to increase your intake of probiotics from fermented foods
• sprinkle some shredded nori on sliced tomato to increase your intake of iodine
• eat a pinch of dried fruit, a couple of dates or a few prunes instead of a sweet biscuit with a cup of tea at afternoon tea to beat mid-afternoon sugar cravings
• after sautéing the onion for a spaghetti sauce, add spices such as turmeric, paprika and cumin to add colour, flavour and give an amazing antioxidant boost
• drizzle a good quality vegetable oil over cooked vegetables to increase your intake of healthy fats
• add a handful of fresh herbs or edible weeds to a tossed salad to increase your intake and variety of antioxidants
• make your own version of chai tea to have as dessert after dinner
• substitute some flour for soy flour in baked products for extra protein
• substitute banana for grated pumpkin, beetroot or sweet potato in your favourite banana cake recipe for variety and extra beta-carotene
• make a stuffing for mushrooms and substitute some bread crumbs for almond, pecan or walnut meal for added fibre, calcium, vitamin E and omega 3
Add three ideas to your shopping list so you have the ingredients at home and can try them as the occasion arises.
After you have had success with the ideas tried, use your imagination to expand on other ideas. Over a period of time, the nutritional benefits of making a simple substitution, or adding as little as one extra ingredient, will go a long way to good health.