5.29.2009

10 Things You Can Do to Make Your Meals More Nutrient-Dense




Sometimes the prospect of making our diets healthier can be so overwhelming at the beginning. Sometimes we have the luxury of taking our time in the transition. But when there are dire health concerns in your family, you sometimes have to transition faster than you'd like. Here are ten easy, sneaky ways to make your meals more nourishing and nutrient-dense that your family most likely won't notice!

1)Replace white flour pasta with brown rice flour noodles. Trader Joe's has a very inexpensive line of brown rice pastas including spaghetti, macaroni, and fusili noodles. These taste great and work very well in any Italian dish! (Here are my favorite things at Trader Joe's).

Even better, if you need to go grain-free, low-carb, try delicious, low-calorie spaghetti squash. Bake the squash at 350 for about an hour, then when finished slice in half and spoon out the pulp in the center. Then fluff the rest of the flesh with a fork and spoon out the "noodles".

2) Buy pasture-raised, free-range eggs. No one will notice the difference and they will add tons of nutrition to your diet. Think it'll break your bank? Here are my thoughts on the real value of cheap eggs.

3) Replace juices with a refreshing iced herbal tea. Blueberry, raspberry, and strawberry are some of our favorites. Add a bit of stevia to sweeten and for very few calories you have a refreshing, tasty beverage to enjoy!

4) Make blender waffles or pancakes! These simple, frugal, whole-grain, versatile treats take minutes to prepare, and your family won't notice the difference! If you want a no-grain option, these fluffy, low-carb pancakes are made with coconut flour and are amazing!

5) Replace white rice with brown, and cook the rice in mineral-rich chicken broth (check out my easy crock-pot chicken stock recipe here). For even more minerals and nutrient-density, consider sneaking in a little bit of liver as seen in this versatile recipe! Make a basic, everyday dish like rice into a nourishing, one-pot meal!

6) Replace your boxed cereal with homemade, soaked oatmeal or a grain-free cold cereal that we like called Almond Raisin Bran (recipe to come!).

7) Replace pasteurized milk with real, fresh raw milk. Find a safe source from Real Milk's website.

8) Add coconut oil to your diet by using it in place of shortening. Coconut oil is naturally rich in monolaurin, which is a strong anti-viral and anti-fungal. It's a great source of Medium-Chain Fatty Acids which are converted to energy in the small intestine to provide quick energy. Here's where you'll find the best price on coconut oil!

9) Replace organic ground beef with grass-fed, pasture-raised ground beef. Even better, grind in a small amount of liver (no more than 1/4cup) or heart for added nutrition.

10) Think outside the bun. Even though you may not be sensitive to gluten, it's not a bad idea (for health reasons involving insulin and mineral absorption) to limit your intake of grains. Typically, it's easier to feed our families grain-rich meals because they tend to be more convenient. Challenge yourself to have at least two grain-free days per week and focus on good quality meat with fresh veggies! Soup is a great, frugal way to get nourishing, good quality meats and veggies into unsuspecting children!!! Here are some my favorite, simple soup recipes.

For more great Real Food Tips, visit Kelly the Kitchen Kop! and Food Renegade's Fight Back Fridays!

17 comments:

NoMeatAthlete said...

I love #2, about the eggs. When I think of pastured, free-range eggs, I think of the cruelty involved with any other type. But it's so easy to forget that the nutrition is so much better in pastured, free-range. Thanks for reminding us!

By the way, I saw Michael Pollan speak the other day, and he said there's a tremendous difference between pastured and free-range eggs. Apparently free-range doesn't mean all that much, pastured is what matters.

Laryssa Herbert said...

Thanks for these ideas! These are great to share with folks who are just starting out and have no clue what to do next.

We just got our first local RAW GRASS FED milk last week. Can I just say...WOW! I never knew milk could taste so good. I'm now making our own yogurt and creme fresh too.

Since the cow is ONLY fed grass, the risk of e-coli is non existent.

Vin | NaturalBias.com said...

Great tips! I particularly like 7 - 10 because they focus on whole foods rather than grain based foods that are less refined but still processed.

Eating grass fed beef is a great tip too. I just wrote an article about it's health benefits.

motherhen68 said...

I tell ya, I pout like a 3 year old when my egg lady doesn't have any eggs for us.

We're in a rotation. When she calls me, I take all she has, usually 5 dozen and I pray that my eggs last till my next turn LOL.

Great tips, especially about going grain free.

Kelly the Kitchen Kop said...

GREAT post, Carrie. I love the one about the tea, I'd never thought of that and bet it just might fly with the kids, too! :)

Mary said...

Very interested in your Almond Raisin Bran cold cereal recipe! Camping season is coming and this sounds like something that would be great to pack! Please share soon! Thanks for the great post!
Mary P.

Carrie @ OrganicThrifty said...

NoMeatAthlete,

Thanks for the comment! You are so right, the word "pastured" is the only one that means anything to me, because if they are on pasture, then they are obviously "free range". Yeah, free range can mean that they are in a big warehouse with a wee little door with access outdoors as little as like 2 hours a day. Oh, and my favorite is "fed an all vegetarian diet". Great, that just proves to me that they aren't pastured because if they were they'd be eating bugs, and worms, even mice sometimes!

Carrie @ OrganicThrifty said...

Laryssa,

You are so right about the grass-fed milk. I could never go back after having the real thing! I'm so glad you have a supplier; what a blessing!

Carrie

Carrie @ OrganicThrifty said...

Vin,

Thank you, I do no-grains myself, but sometimes it can be a bit extreme for those transitioning. Brown rice is a good "transition food" but problematic for my family so we have been forced to do no grains, but I have to say I'm totally happy with that! I'd rather have spaghetti squash than brown rice pasta any day, personally! I can't wait to read your article!

Carrie @ OrganicThrifty said...

Kel,

I can't believe how much the "strawberry-kiwi" sun tea I made (got the loose tea from Teavana, but you could use anything) with a little stevia tastes just like kool-aid, and if you mixed in Rooibios (an herbal red tea) you'd be adding tons of minerals to the mix!

Carrie

Carrie @ OrganicThrifty said...

Mary,

Yes, yes, yes, I have a couple of yummy grain-free, cold cereal ideas coming down the pike! Check back soon!

Carrie

foodrenegade said...

Thanks for submitting this to Fight Back Fridays today. It's a very helpful post! (I also stumbled it!)

Cheers,
KristenM
(AKA FoodRenegade)

Holly from Sustainable Suppers said...

Hi, Carrie!

Great tips. And once you try real eggs, there's no going back.

Quick question: do you use powdered or liquid stevia? I have some of the herb itself, but it doesn't translate well to baking or cooking.

Thanks!

Carrie @ OrganicThrifty said...

Kristen,

Thanks so much for the stumble. I really appreciate it!

Holly,

I use both liquid and powdered; liquid for adding to smoothies, tea, and sometimes for certain baking recipes. I also have the powdered kind (TJ's sells it) that I use in some baking recipes. Rachel Albert-Matesz, in her book _The Ice Dream Cookbook_ has some fabulous goodies using small amounts of honey and stevia.

Faith Marie said...

Great post! I am very interested in the juice replacements (teas) and the cereal replacements. I will subscribe to updates in hopes that you will post more details on both. Thanks! Faith's Mom

Anonymous said...

Can you tell me please where you read your information about insulin issues and mineral absorption and grains? I'd like to read more about it.
Janet W

Carrie @ OrganicThrifty said...

Faith Marie,

I certainly will!

Janet,

In the book _The Garden of Eating_ (www.thegardenofeatingdiet.com) Rachel Albert-Matesz dedicates the first few chapters outlining these issues. That would be a great place to start. Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions emphasizes the importance of properly preparing your grains to minimize their damage on your gut, but many schools of thought (including Pediatric Neurologist Natasha Campbell-McBride) suggest that grains can be attributed to gut damage which in turn is linked to scores of mental disorders, including bipolar, schizophrenia, ADD, autism, etc.

Dr. Mercola also has a book called The No-Grain Diet which spells these issues out as well. Also, you might want to check out a newly-released book called Primal Body, Primal Mind. Here's a link that might help:

http://www.primalbody-primalmind.com/top10-nutritional-mistakes.html

Hope this helps!!!

Carrie