Tips for Adding Nutrients to Meals

Tips for Adding Nutrients to Meals

·          Serve a variety of vegetables, fruits, meats and beans, milk and milk products, and grains (especially whole grains) with little or no saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol or added sugar.

·          Low intakes of calcium are often the result of low intakes of milk and milk products.

·          Most Americans need to increase their potassium intake.  Some potassium-rich foods include baked white or sweet potatoes, cooked greens (such as spinach), many dried fruits, cooked dry beans, and cantaloupe.

·          Low intakes of fiber are often the result of low intakes of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.  Choosing a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains will help to provide an adequate amount of fiber in a child’s diet.

·          Magnesium intake can be increased by consuming fruits and vegetables.  Some sources include almonds, spinach, black beans, oat bran, and brown rice.

·          Specific vitamin E-rich foods need to be included in the eating pattern to meet the recommended intake of vitamin E.  Foods that can help increase vitamin E intake include fortified ready-to-eat cereals, tomato sauce, raw avocado, olive oil, sardines, and peanut butter.

·          When possible, use low-fat forms of foods in each group and forms free of added sugars.  Keep in mind that products labeled as low-fat are not necessarily low in calories.  Always read the nutrition facts label.

·          Serve nutrient-dense foods which are lower in calories and high in vitamins and minerals and limit foodshigh in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, and added sugars.

·          Serve a variety of pasta, rice, breads, and cereals with little or no added    saturated fat and trans fat and a moderate or low amount of added sugars.

·          Serve fresh fruits for naturally sweet desserts.

·          Buy fruits in season for better prices and tastier produce.

·          Serve fresh fruits higher in fiber, such as those with edible skins-like apples, pears, nectarines, peaches, and those with edible seeds; like berries and bananas.

·          Serve a variety of vegetables.  Choose vegetables from each of the five vegetable subgroups (dark green, orange, legumes [dry beans], starchy, and other vegetables).

·          Serve vegetables high in fiber such as cooked dry beans, broccoli, tomatoes, leafy greens, potatoes with skin, and carrots.

·          Serve raw vegetable salads and raw vegetables for snacks.

·          Season vegetables with herbs for taste appeal.

·          Offer and serve whole grain products with meals.

·          Remember that whole grains cannot be identified by the color of the food.  Read the Nutrition Facts Label on foods so you can choose grain products high in fiber and low in saturated fat and sodium. For example, look for one of the following ingredients first on the label ingredient list:  whole wheat, whole oats, whole rye, brown rice, whole grain corn, graham flour, bulgur, cracked wheat, and oatmeal.

  • In main and side dishes, include a variety of enriched rice,   macaroni, noodles, and other pasta products.  Introduce brown rice             and whole-wheat pasta to the menu to increase fiber content.
  • When preparing a dish, try increasing the proportion of whole grains to other ingredients by substituting whole-wheat flour for all or part of the white flour in recipes.  For example, when making muffins, quick breads, biscuits, or pizza crusts substitute ½ whole-wheat flour for white flour.  When making cakes, substitute ¼ whole-wheat flour for white flour.
  • Add grains such as pre-cooked rice and oats to ground beef in meat loaf and similar casseroles.  Use bulgur to thicken soups.
  • Introduce children to whole-wheat bread by serving sandwiches with one slice of whole-wheat bread and one slice of white bread.
  • When introducing whole grains, try starting with 10-percent whole-grain flour or grains in recipes you make.  Gradually increase the amount each time the recipe is prepared as children learn to accept this healthy food choice.

·          Offer low-fat or fat-free milk and milk products to children 2 years of age or older.

·          Replace whole milk in baking with low-fat, fat-free, buttermilk, or reconstituted fat-free dry milk.

·          Use the food label to select products that are lowest in saturated fat, trans fats and cholesterol.

·          Read the nutrition facts label when purchasing foods and select foods that have less sodium over foods that have higher levels of sodium.

·          Foods with added salt include cured and processed meats; cheeses; ready-to-eat snacks; prepared frozen entrees and dinners; packaged mixes; canned soups; salad dressings and pickles.  If serving these foods, check the sodium content and select foods that have less sodium.

·          For dessert, make chocolate or butterscotch pudding with fat-free or low-fat milk.