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Is your lunch lazy? Unlock the full potential of your food

Get the fantastic combo of taste and nutrition. You don’t think it can be done? In the words of Bruno Mars, “don’t believe me just watch”…

Is your food lackadaisical when it comes to releasing all the nutrition it could for you?  Get the fantastic combo of taste and nutrition, and on a budget, to boot.  You don’t think it can be done? In the words of Bruno Mars, “don’t believe me just watch”! Learn how to get the most out of choices you are making. Here are a few easy favorites of mine:

salad-1786313_640Pairing power.  Oh kale, you got yourself to be the marketing darling of veggies right now. Slide over in the bowl, as even iceberg lettuce can deliver a respectable amount of nutrients (you read that right) – when you pair it with its veggie friends.  Deeper colors have the most nutritional bang for your buck, so yes, opt for spinach, romaine, and other vibrant greens when you can (fine, kale, you can be on the list too, just stop being an attention hog). Just don’t ignore that classic iceberg if that’s your lettuce love.

fresh-909372_640We’re going for the win-win, so pair whatever lettuce is your fave with a sunny source of vitamin C, like strawberries, orange slices, or red bell pepper.  These bright and naturally sweet treats not only brighten the bitterness of some of those leafy greens, but their Vitamin C boosts the absorption of iron in those greens (Nutrition win! Taste win!). If you choose lighter colors, just remember they need their more colorful friends to boost the nutrition in the overall dish.

This is one of the reasons I became a dietitian, people. I don’t like to be told what to do either, but I do like knowing what to do with the science to back it up. I make a mean salad in both the taste and the nutrition department. Now you can, too.

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Portion pizzazz. This is not a cop out. This is for real. Fat is not awful, but you do need to pay attention to the source and the amount. You don’t need to use a whole bottle of olive oil, as an example, for flavor and nutrition benefits. The number of calories you’d get would be tremendous if you did that, even though it is a great type of fat to choose, so slow your roll and be mindful of how much you use. And know that when you drizzle a bit of fat onto foods that contain fat soluble vitamins (A, D, and E), it helps with the absorption of them. So yes, a marinade or salad dressing can be a delicious boost for both your taste buds and your nutritional profile.

fig-750844_640Lean meats are neat. With a marinade. Here’s the deal – leaner cuts of meat can often be tough. You can marinate them ahead of time to transform them, and when you pay attention to this, you can manage your overall fat intake by reducing the saturated fat in meat and choosing an oil that is more unsaturated for the marinade or you can even create a marinade without any fat at all. Score. Oh, and if you do choose a fattier cut of meat, monitor the portion size and pair it with some lovely salads, fruits and other lighter options to balance the meal.

Next time you make yourself a snack or meal, don’t just slap stuff together. Instead, visualize all the amazing layers of flavor different choices provide that also bump up your nutrition, too.




By Kim Kirchherr

I am a dietitian working in food and fiber (agriculture) through retail, addressing opportunities to make things better for people and planet.