You should enjoy the food you eat. In choosing nutrient-rich foods, you'll notice they are familiar, easy to find and represent the five basic food groups. Achieving balance and building a healthier eating pattern can be simple and low-stress.
Selecting nutrient-rich foods and beverages first is a way to make better choices within your daily eating plan. Choose first among the basic food groups:
Brightly colored fruits and 100-percent fruit juice
Vibrantly colored vegetables including potatoes
Whole-grain, fortified and fiber-rich grain foods
Low-fat and fat-free milk, cheese and yogurt or fortified plant-based alternatives
Lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, soyfoods such as tofu and tempeh, beans, lentils and nuts
Here are some practical ways for you to add nutrient-rich foods and beverages to your daily diet.
Make creamier oatmeal by adding fat-free milk or calcium-fortified soy milk instead of water. Stir in some walnuts and raisins too.
Make sandwiches on whole-grain bread, such as whole wheat or whole rye. Add slices of avocado, tomato or cucumber to fillings such as lean roast beef, ham, turkey, chicken, tofu or mashed chickpeas.
When dining out, look for nutrient-rich choices such as entrée salads with grilled seafood and oil-based dressing, baked potatoes topped with salsa, grilled vegetables and black beans, and vegetable stir-fry loaded with a rainbow of veggies and tofu served over brown rice.
Choose nutrient-rich beverages such as low-fat or fat-free plain milk, calcium-fortified plant-based beverages or 100-percent fruit juice.
Top foods with chopped nuts and seeds to get crunch, flavor and nutrients from the first bite.
Spend a few minutes washing and cutting vegetables so they are in easy reach for every family member — these include ready-to-eat favorites such as red, green or yellow peppers, broccoli or cauliflower florets, carrots, celery sticks, cucumbers, snap peas or whole radishes. Keep cut vegetables handy for mid-afternoon snacks, side dishes, lunch box additions or a quick nibble while waiting for dinner.
Serve meals that pack multiple nutrient-rich foods into one dish, such as hearty, broth-based soups that are full of colorful vegetables, whole grains and beans. Make chili with a dollop of low-fat yogurt.Whip up beans and rice with canned tomatoes. Use chickpeas to make sliders with barbecue sauce on whole-grain buns. Throw together tacos with frozen shrimp, frozen corn, canned beans and canned pineapple.
For dessert, try no-bake bars with whole-grain oats and dried fruit or a chocolaty smoothie with banana and peanut butter.