You may not know it, but you could be missing some key nutrients in your diet.
For the average American Diet: Fiber, vitamin D, calcium and potassium are considered “nutrients of concern” according to the USDA Dietary Guidelines committee. You may not be getting enough vitamin C or A either. These vitamins are important antioxidants – chemicals in food that help slow the damage of cells in the body.
One easy way to boost your overall intake of these nutrients is to add nuts, seeds, fruit, veggies or protein to some recipes. By adding more beans, nuts and seeds to your diet, you’ll boost protein, magnesium, phosphorous, B vitamins. potassium and fiber. Potassium is also found in fruit, and vegetables (leafy greens are super high, as well as both white and sweet potatoes) and from dairy products. To add fiber, boost your favorite recipes with more whole grains, fruit, veggies, seeds and nuts. The fruits and veggies also provide those important antioxidant vitamins, C and A. For calcium, find more ways to use vitamin-D fortified milk and plain yogurt in your cooking. Even if you are just adding a tablespoon of yogurt here, and a tablespoon there, it all adds up to better nutrition at the end of the week!
For instance, I love boosting chicken salad with tons of chopped celery, chopped walnuts and finely diced apple. I use plain yogurt instead of tons of mayo for the dressing. So easy! Dice 2 cooked chicken breasts, add a ½ cup of diced celery, ½ cup diced apple, ¼ cup chopped walnuts. Mix in a bowl with a pinch of salt. Then make a super creamy dressing with 1 TB mayo, ½ tsp Dijon mustard, 1 TB dried tarragon and ½ cup plain yogurt. Add the dressing to the chicken mixture and blend well. Use for sandwiches or to top green salads.
A few foods or products to keep in your pantry that are great to add-in for extra nutrition: chopped walnuts, almonds, pistachios, berries, bananas, milk, yogurt, frozen peas, spinach, canned beans, chia and flax seeds, and protein powder (I use a chick pea powder). Here are some easy examples:
- Amp up a basic muffin or pancake mix by adding a scoop of protein powder, chopped walnuts and fruit.
- Top cereal with fruit and chia seeds or add chia to puddings, smoothies/smoothie bowls, or meatballs. These little seeds boost your diet for healthy fats and zinc.
- Boost a spinach salad with a 1/2 cup of farro or wild rice and add berries or orange segments.
- Puree canned chickpeas or black beans and add to a blondie or brownie recipe.
- Blend mushrooms or shredded carrots to burgers or meatballs.
- Use a high fiber cereal as an ingredient to boost fiber in foods. Grind up, use for part of the flour in pancakes or waffles, or in place of bread crumbs.
- Use vitamin D fortified cow’s milk instead of water boosts calcium and vitamin D in your morning oatmeal. Make a low fat cream sauce to pour over pasta or veggies using 1% or 2% milk instead of cream.
- Toss frozen peas into pasta water during the last 2 minutes for a quick veggie. Frozen peas are great to add to rice or any cold salad.
- Plain low fat Greek yogurt saves calories and boosts calcium and protein over sour cream:
- Dollop potatoes.
- Make a simple sauce for poultry or pork with plain yogurt, mustard and honey.
- Use nonfat plain yogurt and your favorite spice blend to make a veggie dip.
- Try my fruit dip using plain yogurt and peanut butter.
Adding Veggies into Foods Everyone Already Love: Burgers
If you’re an omnivore, you probably love a good burger. However if you have a family history of heart disease, diabetes, or high blood cholesterol, you’re probably trying to reduce your portions of meat. Why not boost some of your burger with some health-promoting mushrooms?
The front cover of my DASH Diet for Two cookbook has this photo of a burger on it. I love this because it sends a clear message that healthy eating can absolutely include fun foods!
The 50-50 Burger
If you’re not adding chopped mushrooms to your burgers, what are you waiting for?
Adding chopped mushrooms to your ground meat for burgers not only adds nutrition, it makes a more delicious burger. You can do a 50-50 blend (half chopped mushrooms, half ground lean beef) or you can do a 30-70 blend or any combination. Adding the chopped mushrooms will add moisture to your burger and it will save you money by extending the ground meat.
You can create a super delicious, moist burger using either lean ground beef or extra lean ground turkey. Try it!
50-50 Burgers with Caramelized Onions
- 1 cup finely chopped white mushrooms or portabella
- 1/4 teaspoon olive oil
- 3/4 cup sliced onions
- 4 ounces 90 percent-lean ground beef or extra lean ground turkey
- 1 teaspoon salt-free seasoning blend
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 hard rolls or whole wheat
- Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 3 minutes or until soft. Drain off any water, transfer the mushrooms to a large bowl, and set them aside.
- Heat the oil in the same skillet over medium heat, add the onions, and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the onions are caramelized, about 15 minutes.
- While the onions cook, add the beef, seasoning, and salt to the bowl with the mushrooms. Mix thoroughly and divide the mixture into two burgers.
- Transfer the caramelized onions to a small bowl and set aside.
- Increase the heat to medium-high and place the same skillet back on the heat. Place the burgers in the skillet and cook them for 7 to 10 minutes, turning once. (You can also grill the burgers, 4-6 minutes per side)
- Serve the burgers topped with the onions on the hard rolls. Feel free to add other vegetable toppings, such as sliced tomato, leaf lettuce or spinach.