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Healthy Food Swaps

11 Ways to Add Nutritional Value to Your Family's Meals

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Green Smoothie Recipe

Green Smoothie Recipe

Ann Stratton/Getty Images
Whether you're coping with picky eaters or you just want to boost the nutritional value of your family's meals, making simple healthy food swaps like the ones listed here, is all it takes. A few simple substitutions here and there, and you'll be eating healthier in no time.
  1. Upgrade the bread on your sandwiches. Whole wheat bread is the obvious choice instead of white, but some kids just have a thing against anything brown. Try a white whole wheat bread instead. It looks like white bread, but has all the nutritional value of whole wheat.

  2. Serve healthy snacks just before dinner. They don't call that hour before dinner "the witching hour" for nothing. Everybody's tired, cranky and running around with low blood sugar. That's when I put out the carrots with peanut butter or guacamole. These snacks are tasty and hearty enough to tempt kids, yet full of protein, vitamins and heart-healthy fats.

  3. Get your fruits and veggies in at breakfast time. Start the day off with a healthy green smoothie (made with spinach, grapes and unsweetened pineapple) or my lemon blueberry smoothie (made with frozen blueberries, pineapple, yogurt and soy milk). Homemade smoothies are rich in fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals, and you can often get two or three servings of fruits and/or vegetables in each smoothie.

  4. Make it yourself. Homemade sweets are almost always healthier than anything you buy in a store. Try my healthy chocolate chip cookies (they're rich in fiber), my moist banana cake, made with ground flaxseed meal, walnuts, whole wheat flour and dark chocolate chips, or my healthy peanut butter rice crispy treats, made with brown rice syrup and peanut butter instead of butter and marshmallows.

  5. Brown your vegetables. Roasting brings out the natural sugars in vegetables and makes them taste super sweet and naturally appealing. Try making caramelized onions, crispy kale or roasted green beans. When I make my roasted broccoli, it's the first thing that disappears from the dinner table.

  6. Serve fruit with dinner. Despite your best efforts at making vegetables taste good, kids may still reject them. In that case, focus on fruits (they have just as many antioxidants, vitamins and minerals as vegetables). Try serving a slice of cantaloupe or half a grapefruit before dinner. That way, you get a serving of fruit in before the meal even starts.

  7. Use Greek yogurt in place of sour cream. In most recipes, Greek yogurt works just as well as sour cream, and if you aren't cooking it, you get the probiotics in the yogurt, which improve overall health.

  8. Use a heart-healthy fat. Olive oil is better than vegetable oil. Butter is better than margarine, and grass-fed butter is even better than regular butter. Grass-fed butter has vitamin D, vitamin A, calcium, phosphorus and potassium, plus some omega-3 fatty acids (not a lot, but more than other fats). It is far better to use a natural, less processed fat that doesn't go rancid than a fake fat, such as margarine.

  9. Try almond butter or walnut butter instead of peanut butter. Almond butter is high in folate, vitamin E, calcium, iron, magnesium and phosphorus in addition to protein and fiber. Walnut butter is high in omega-3 fatty acids, as well as other vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and protein.

  10. Opt for whole grain waffles instead of regular frozen waffles. Whole grain waffles are higher in fiber and protein.

  11. Use sea salt. When I'm seasoning food, I always add some salt and pepper, but I can get away with less salt when I put sea salt on top of the food, because the salt hits your palate first. Try this with burgers (season the outside with sea salt), vegetables, fish and chicken. I'm a big fan of Maldon sea salt because it has big crystals that melt on the tongue, so you can use less.

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