Jumping right in, we are going to talk about 10 easy ways to upgrade the nutritional quality of your diet. Now, I’m talking about putting butter in your coffee, eating only organic proteins or sprouting your own grains. Instead, today, I’m going to give you 10 simple tweaks to regular foods and meals that, when practiced consistently, can make a difference in your overall nutrition.
As I’m going through these, I want you to think about how many of these could you incorporate into your regular routine?
Easy upgrade #1: spread your bread with protein. I love having bread for breakfast! A slice of sprouted grain toast or a whole wheat English muffin can do A LOT for me in the mornings, and I always use a nut butter spread instead of butter or cream cheese. Something with very little sugar and not a lot of processing, that way I’m adding in a little extra fiber, protein, and healthy fats to my morning. And it’s about the same number of calories as any other spread, if not less depending on the brand and how much you use.
Easy upgrade #2: go Greek. Choose plain Greek yogurt instead of regular yogurt and you’ll get twice the protein, which translates into more nutrients in your body leading to feeling fuller for longer. I know Greek yogurt is slightly more expensive than regular yogurt, but it all plays out equally in the end since you won’t be needing that mid-morning or late afternoon snack after eating a serving of Greek yogurt. Also, there are some great recipes and meals that you can substitute Greek yogurt into, to increase the nutritional content without losing any of the flavor or consistency. It’s a multi-use product, and that’s why I love it!
Easy upgrade #3: grate your way to greatness! There is an 8-year-old in my house, so there is definitely at least one day a week where she is asking for pancakes, waffles, muffins, or anything with sugar and simple carbs. Though I do try to regulate how often this happens, on those days where I just cannot say no, I bring out the vegetable grater along with my griddle for breakfast. I grate a raw carrot or zucchini into the batter for some added moistness and a little extra vegetable nutrition. No one has seemed to notice yet, so we’ll just say it’s a well-kept secret.
Easy upgrade #4: milk it for all it’s worth. If you’re making oatmeal, overnight oats or any other hot cereal, try using the no sugar added almond, oat or coconut milk instead of water. Not only does it make the cereal extra creamy and delicious, but you also up the ante in terms of protein and calcium.
Easy upgrade #5: look for greener pastures. When choosing salad greens, focus in on the darker varieties because in addition to being more flavorful, they are also more nutritious. I often buy hearts of romaine lettuce because they keep so well in the fridge. I know that the color of romaine often ranges from almost white to super dark green. I always grab a dark green pack. Similarly, if you’re at a salad bar or restaurant, opt for the darker spring mix or spinach and forgo the pale, flavorless romaine.
Easy upgrade #6: roll in the green! When you’re ordering from an Asian restaurant, instead of having a deep-fried egg roll, choose lettuce rolls or rice paper rolls instead. They’re a lower carb and lower fat option compared to their fried alternative. Also, when you’re at home, you can use Boston lettuce leaves or larger lettuce leaves in general to make sandwich roll ups or healthy tacos, which is also another delicious and healthy way to cut back on some carbs and add in good vegetable nutrients, especially during the holidays.
Easy upgrade #7: savor a savory cocktail. If you’re going to have a cocktail, try forgoing the sugary drinks on the cocktail menu and opp for one shot of your alcohol of choice mixed with a no calorie mixer such as soda water, tonic, diet gingerale, or a flavored water. Lately, all the hype has been about infused vodkas. I personally love infused vodkas because they add in a ton of flavor without adding in sugar, because the flavors are infused into the liquor rather than adding sugar. My favorite go to cocktail is any type of flavored vodka the bar has on hand, mixed with water and lime. Things rings in around 70-100 calories, no sugar and no carbs. Bloody marys are also a great route to go, because they forgo the sugary mixes and add in a serving of vegetables! Just be wary of all the add ins like bacon, shrimp, olives, and salt around the rim. We still want to be mindful of the sodium content!
Easy upgrade number 8: sideline the fries. Casual restaurant meals often come with a huge pile of fries on the side, because fries are cheap and filling, and most people enjoy them. But most restaurants, if you ask, substitute the vegetable of the day for the fries. Now I’m not going to lie to you and say I never eat French fries, because I do eat them occasionally, but I would say about 80% of the time, I choose entrees that don’t come with fries. And fries happen to be an option, I will ask for vegetables or another, less dense side option.
Easy upgrade number 9: go to the dark side of chocolate, that is. If you’re going to have some chocolate, which most people do, choose the darkest chocolate you can enjoy. The darker the chocolate, the less sugar it contains, and the healthier flavanols. If you can enjoy a chocolate that’s 70% cacao or higher, that’s great, but also not for everyone. If your tastes run more towards milk chocolate, you can still upgrade by choosing a slightly darker chocolate than usual, try something that has 40% cacao or more. Over time, you might even find that you start to enjoy darker chocolates, your waistline and your heart will thank you.
And now or easy upgrade #10: You tell me! If you have a nutrition upgrade that you’ve heard or have followed, I want to hear it! You can post it in the comment section for the show notes for today, which are at bodybyvee (spell it out). Com. Now, we’re not looking for anything crazy or complicated, just easy ways to make everyday foods and meals, just a little bit more nutritious.
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