Sneaking in Nutrition

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Preparing foods that are both nutritious and delicious is always a challenge. If, like most families, you have a picky eater or two, there are a few tricks you can use to boost the nutritional value of the foods your family loves. One such trick is to "sneak" or "hide" nutrition in food to give it a healthy makeover.

Think about the foods your family already enjoys. Even foods that may not seem very nutritious at first can actually be quite healthy with a few minor recipe alterations. Often, the healthier alternatives involve adding non-traditional ingredients that boost the nutritional value of the dish without significantly altering the dish's taste or texture. For example, a traditional meatloaf recipe may include the following ingredients: ground beef, onion, bread crumbs, egg, ketchup, spices. The healthy version will not only use lean meat or substitute ground turkey, but might also suggest using oatmeal instead of bread crumbs. Even if not called for in the recipe, you can also mix in shredded carrots, peppers, or other vegetables or even a chopped apple to add fiber and increase the nutritional value.

Pizza and pasta dishes are great foods for hiding nutrition. Make your own sauce or boost the nutritional value of bottled sauces by adding steamed and pureed vegetables such as carrots and spinach. When making a pizza at home, use fresh vegetables as toppings and vegetarian "meats." Pepperoni, sausage and ground beef each have readily available counterparts made from texturized vegetable protein (TVP). Meat substitutes also work great in tacos and sloppy joes.

For mashed potatoes, you can steam some cauliflower and mash it in with the potatoes. Mix in some Parmesan or top with gravy, and the cauliflower will be very difficult to detect.