Healthy Add-Ins for a Nutrition Boost
Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD
Whenever I’m looking over new recipes to try, one of the first things I usually do is see if there are things that I can do to make the dish even more nutritious. One way, of course, is to try to reduce unnecessary sugars, fats and salt. However, another way is to think of things that I can add, rather than take away. Boosting protein, fruits and veggies is usually what I’m aiming for. So here are some of my best tricks for making healthy add-ins to everyday dishes:
- Plain protein powder is a natural in smoothies, but you can also stir it into cooked hot cereals, mashed potatoes, yogurt, and cottage cheese, or into thick soups, like tomato. You can also sprinkle it into the sauces you use for casserole dishes or stir into your recipes for baked goods like bran muffins or pancakes.
- High-protein beans are good on their own or added to soups and salads, but you can also blend them into a puree. They make a great base for a creamy soup without the cream, a vegetable dip or as sauce for pasta. Pureed beans can also replace some of the fat in baked goods.
- To sneak in more veggies, try adding grated carrots and zucchini, or chopped spinach and broccoli to pasta sauces, casseroles and meatloaf. When I cook pasta, I toss in some frozen veggies during the last couple of minutes of cooking, then drain altogether and add my sauce. Another great trick is to steam some extra veggies and add them to take-out dishes like Chinese stir-fries or Indian curries.
- Fruits are easy to add, too. Try sliced oranges, kiwi, berries or grapes in your green salads, or grate some healthy citrus zest into salads, fruit salads, smoothies or steamed veggies. You can also use pureed fruits like mango, banana or applesauce to replace half the fat in baked goods. Mashed avocado makes a healthy add-in – and mayonnaise replacement - in tuna salad, chicken salad or egg salad.