Published:
April 29, 2022
Last Updated:
May 6, 2022

Five Hacks for Making Meals More Nutritious

We all want our meals to be as delicious – and nutritious – as possible, and things like holidays, travel, and the chaos of life can throw a wrench into our eating habits. Luckily, there are some ways to boost the nutritional content of the foods you eat every day, and they’re simple enough to implement right now!

Swap in whole grains

Whole grains are a good source of fiber and have nutrients that processed grains (like white bread and pasta) are stripped of, including vitamin E, iron, zinc, B vitamins, and phytonutrients. Research shows that eating more whole grains lowers your risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even certain cancers. Next time you’re craving spaghetti and meatballs, use whole-wheat pasta instead.

Blend in frozen veggies

Stock up on frozen produce to blend into smoothies, shakes, and soups to ramp up the nutritional quality of your meals. Because they’re flash-frozen at the peak of their ripeness, frozen fruits and vegetables retain all their nutrition, all year round. In many cases—like in the depths of winter—frozen vegetables might even have more nutrients than their fresh counterparts.

Cook rice with coconut oil

Love sushi, but don’t love the blood sugar spike you get from that sticky white rice? Try cooking your rice with coconut oil. The addition of fat to the cooking and cooling process changes the composition of the carbohydrates, namely increasing the amount of resistant starch (aka the fiber your gut microbes love!). Learn more about this process in this article that summarizes an experiment done by a chemistry student and dives into the science behind this phenomenon.

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Go organic

Eating organic food is a simple way to get more out of your meals when it’s affordable. It’s not that organic food is necessarily more vitamin-rich or inherently healthier, but that they’re much less likely to contain pesticide residue. Pesticides can be harmful to your health, especially at high doses. But studies have shown that simply eating food with pesticides isn’t enough to result in serious side effects, and most pesticide residue can be removed from food before eating. If looking to buy organic but also want to remain within your budget, prioritize purchasing the “dirty dozen” organic, or the produce that’s most likely to have been grown with pesticides.

Add a pinch of spice

A touch of spice can instantly elevate the flavors of a meal—but pick the right spices, and you can increase the nutrition in your dinner, too! Cinnamon is a favorite because of its iconic flavor, but the spice is also a powerful blood sugar stabilizer. Sprinkle a bit over food or mix into hot or cold drinks to counteract blood sugar spikes. Another popular spice is turmeric – although mild in favor alone, when combined with black pepper and fat, you’ll make the nutrients from turmeric more bio-available plus whatever you’re making will taste amazing! Try this Ayurvedic golden milk recipe from The Minimalist Baker.

The Bottom Line

At IIN, we’re all for moderation instead of deprivation. We believe that you should be able to enjoy delicious food while also being mindful of nutrition. Nutritious food doesn’t have to be bland, and delicious food doesn’t have to be unhealthy for you.

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The Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) was founded 30 years ago and has evolved to become the world’s largest and leading online health coaching and nutrition school.

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