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Lifestyle & Wellness

Ways to Add More Nutrition to the Foods You Already Eat

Simple & fun strategies to add more nutrition to the food you already eat like adding nuts and seeds, greens, a side salad and trying a new vegetable or fruit.

If I were to ask you right now what’s something you could do to improve your diet, would you answer with one of the following?

  • exclude desserts
  • remove gluten and dairy
  • exclude sugary drinks
  • exclude sugar in general
  • eat less
  • stop eating after dinner
  • limit carbs

Do you see what all of these things have in common? They’re all about removing, excluding, limiting and restricting you from something in your diet. While, yes excluding sugary drinks is a way to make your diet healthier, taking things out of your diet is not the only way to improve the quality of your diet.

Through the media and diet culture we’ve been conditioned to think that improving our diets is synonymous with removing something that’s in them and today I want to talk about how changing that perspective can help better your relationship with food and simultaneously improve the quality of your diet.

Adding things into your diet to add more nutrition to the foods you already eat is a small strategy that can have a huge impact when it comes to your overall nutrition and your journey to healthy eating. It’s also way less overwhelming than overhauling your entire diet and can introduce new foods that you might end up loving to your diet.

By focusing on what you can add to your diet to make it more balanced and nutritious instead of all the things you have to take out, you’re taking a more positive approach to food and eating that is mentally more enjoyable as well. It’s one of the pillars of my approach to eating called food confidence. More on that to come!

Here are a couple of ways to add more nutrition to the food you already eat that are simple and any one can do. These things are so easy that once you start putting them into practice, you won’t even realize that you’re doing them!

Easy ways to add more nutrition to the foods you already eat

Ways to Add More Nutrition to the Foods You Already Eat

  1. Add Nuts & Seeds
  2. Add a Handful of Greens
  3. Add a Side Salad
  4. Add a New Fruit or Vegetable

  • Add Nuts & Seeds. Think nuts on a salad or paired with fruit as a snack, or a tablespoon of ground flax seed in your morning smoothie. Nuts and seeds are a concentrated source of plant-based protein, fiber and healthy fats, aka omega-3s. Small but mighty when it comes to nutrition, they’re easy to use in a bunch of different ways boosting your food with more nutrition per bite. I like sprinkling hemp seeds on top of my peanut butter toast and using chopped nuts as a coating for fish!

  • Add a Handful of Greens. We often buy a big container of greens with the best intentions to use it up and it ends up wilted and sad at the end of the week in our fridge — ugh it happens to me too! Commit to adding a handful of greens to things like stir fry, smoothies, omelets, etc. Liven up leftovers with a handful of greens or a green base that you can put them on top of. The small ritual of adding a handful of greens to things you’re already eating is a great way to add more vitamin C, A, K, fiber and antioxidants to your diet every day.

  • Add a Side Salad. Side salads don’t have to be synonymous with boring. In fact, pairing a simple side salad with something you’re already eating like pizza, pasta or leftovers is a great way to add more nutrition to your diet, round out your meal with fiber from vegetables and use up produce before it goes bad. Win, Win — win! I love this Mediterranean chickpea salad that goes with everything.
  • Add a New Fruit or Veggie. The next time you go grocery shopping I want you to pick out one fruit or vegetable that you haven’t tried before or thought you didn’t like (tastebuds change and evolve!) and try alongside something you typically eat. Expanding our palate is one of the best things we can do for our health. Not only is trying something new mentally stimulating, but it also introduces another way to get more nutrition into our bodies. You could end up loving whatever you just tried which could inspire you to try something else or be more open to new foods when you go out to eat. All positive things! Research has shown that people who eat upwards of 30 different types of plant foods a week (fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, grains, etc) have a more diverse microbiome which as we know is connected to so many different parts of our health including immunity, mood, digestion and more.

Which one of these ways to add more nutrition to the food you already eat feels the most doable in your life?

13 attainable nutrition tips during quarantine

If you’re not already, I’d love for you to join the Once Upon a Pumpkin community on Instagram. Here’s a reel I recently made on this topic.

If you’re hungry for more check out these posts and some of my favorite recipes below!

My current favorite fun & healthy recipes:

Easy Meals

Blueberry Peach Burrata Salad

This blueberry peach burrata farro salad screams summer! The juicy-bold flavors of fresh blueberries and peaches come together with burrata cheese, chopped almonds, cooked farro, fresh greens and balsamic vinaigrette for a balanced bowl you’ll want to enjoy all summer long.

One thing I look forward to every weekend are trips to our local farmers market here in Chicago! Since moving to this part of town last year, we are super close to the West Loop Green City Market and spend our Saturday mornings in the summer and fall checking out all they have to offer. Not to mention the fact that Pumpkin (our dog) loves running into his other Cavalier friends at the market too!

I love supporting local midwest farmers and chatting with them about their food. They light up when asked how they recommend cooking something or what to pair it with and every week I feel like I learn something new about what’s in season or even a new variety of a vegetable I’ve never seen before. Follow along on Instagram to see what I pick up every week!

And if you have the chance to visit a farmers market this summer, I highly recommend it! I think it really connects you to your food in a new way and is a fun way to jazz things up in the kitchen. Pick out a fruit or vegetable you’ve never had before and cook with it. It’s an easy way to infuse your palate with seasonal produce (and more nutrition!) and maybe even discover your new favorite fruit or vegetable you really like.

Seasonal Blueberry Peach Salad

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been seeing beautiful blueberries and peaches all over the market which inspired this summer salad! Fresh blueberries and peaches complement each other SO well. Paired with creamy burrata, crunchy almonds, farro, fresh basil, and balsamic glaze for a flavor combination that I seriously cannot get enough of!

Farro is a hearty grain with a chewy, nutty texture. It’s one of my favorite ancient grains to use in a grain bowl or salads like this because it helps to make it more filling and the texture works really well with a variety of flavors. Farro is not gluten free so feel free to substitute it for an ancient grain like quinoa if you want to make this salad gluten free.

It would also be great topped with chicken or salmon, and is definitely one you can make in advance for weekday lunches. Just leave off the dressing and perhaps peaches and basil until you’re ready to eat!

Don’t let peak blueberry and peach season pass you by this summer without making this blueberry peach burrata farro salad! And bonus points if you pick up fresh blueberries and peaches from your local farmers market!

summer salad with blueberries, peaches, burrata, farro, almonds and balsamic vinaigrette

Ingredients for blueberry peach burrata farro salad

  • fresh blueberries
  • fresh peaches
  • two types of salad greens ( I recommend arugula & leaf or butterhead lettuce) — mixing two types of lettuce together for any salad gives it a lot more “lift” and makes it more enjoyable to eat in my opinion!
  • burrata cheese
  • almonds
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • balsamic glaze – balsamic glaze is thicker and has a more concentrated flavor compared to balsamic vinegar
  • farro – I like the quick cooking farro from Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods
  • fresh basil – topping salads with fresh herbs seriously takes them up a notch and makes you feel like you’re eating a salad from a restaurant!

equipment / utensils

  • salad bowls
  • saucepan
summer-salad-with-blueberries-peaches-burrata-farro-almonds-and-balsamic-vinaigrette

Blueberry Peach Burrata Farro Salad

Maggie Michalczyk, RDN
Enjoy the fresh flavors of summer with this blueberry, peach and burrata farro salad! It's sure to be your new favorite summer salad combination.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Servings 2 salads

Ingredients
  

  • 1/4 cup uncooked farro
  • 4 cups salad greens washed and dried
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries washed
  • 2 fresh peaches washed and sliced
  • 1/2 burrata cheese cut into smaller pieces
  • 1/4 cup almonds roughly chopped
  • 4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. balsamic glaze
  • 3-4 fresh basil leaves

Instructions
 

  • Prepare farro in a small saucepan according to package directions. Let cool.
  • While the farro is cooking wash and prep the salad greens, blueberries and peaches. Slice burrata and roughly chop the almonds.
  •  Divide greens between 2 salad bowls. Top with cooled farro, blueberries, burrata, almonds and peach slices. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic glaze evenly between the two salads. Garnish with fresh basil and enjoy!

more salad recipes you’re sure to love

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blueberry peach burrata salad
Easy Meals

Tomato White Bean Salad

Tomato white bean salad is made with cherry tomatoes, white beans, olives, roasted red peppers, fresh herbs, olive oil and parmesan. It comes together simply for a flavorful meal or side dish for warm weather. 

tomato and herb white bean salad with olives and roasted red pepper

As the weather warms up here in Chicago and it’s finally starting to feel like spring, I find myself craving lots of fresh flavors, and cold dishes like salads or no lettuce salads that are easy to put together and taste like spring! 

One vegetable that tastes like pure spring? Lolli Bombs™ tomatoes from SUNSET®. Perhaps the most juicy and sweet cherry tomatoes I’ve ever had, Lolli Bombs™. They are bright yellow and truly add such a nice, bright, and juicy flavor to each bite of this bean salad. 

Packed on the vine, don’t hesitate to grab a pack or two when you see them at the store this summer as they make for a delicious ingredient or snack! 

Plus when it starts getting hot out often the last thing we want to do is turn on our ovens. Keep this super simple tomato and bean salad in your back pocket for this summer when it’s too hot to cook — you can feel good knowing it’s packed with fiber and plant-based protein and vitamin C. 

Ingredients for tomato white bean salad:

  • SUNSET® Lolli Bombs™ Tomatoes
  • White beans
  • Kalamata olives
  • Roasted red peppers
  • Fresh parsley
  • Fresh mint 
  • Lemon 
  • Extra-virgin olive oil 
  • Shaved parmesan or crumbled feta cheese
  • Salt and pepper 

This is one of those recipes that actually tastes even better the next day once all of the flavors have come together overnight in the fridge. Store covered in the fridge for 2-3 days. Eat the leftovers on toast, a pita, as a side to a main dish, or just as is! 

As a dietitian I strive to empower others to make healthy eating fun and to infuse flavor and enjoyment into what they eat on a daily basis. That’s one of the many reasons I enjoy partnering with SUNSET® because those same values are infused into their mission and showcased in the amazing produce they grow. You will always find their produce in my cart at the grocery store!

tomato and herb white bean salad with olives and roasted red pepper

Tomato White Bean Salad

Maggie Michalczyk, RDN
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Servings 3 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 1 carton SUNSET® Lolli Bombs™ tomatoes halved
  • 1 can white beans drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup pitted Kalamata olives halved
  • ½ cup roasted red peppers chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh minted chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley chopped
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese or feta crumbles

Instructions
 

  • In a medium-sized bowl combine all of the ingredients together. Add chopped herbs, olive oil, and cheese. Toss everything together until well combined.
  • Serve immediately or store in the fridge for an hour before serving.
  • Store leftovers covered in the fridge for 3-4 days. 

This post was created in partnership with SUNSET®. As always all opinions are my own and I appreciate your support!

More recipes with SUNSET® produce you’re sure to love:

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fresh and healthy tomato white bean salad
Easy Meals

Twisted Taco Salad with Avocado Jalapeno Lime Dressing

This taco salad radish, black jalapeños, pumpkin seeds, purple cabbage and avocado jalapeno lime dressing is super fresh, flavorful and easy to make for lunch or dinner!

Topped with Sunset® Kaboom!® Black Jalapeños, you’ll love the more mellower taste of jalapeno that these black jalapeños give the salad and the dressing! 

A black jalapeno?! Yes, you read that right! These jalapeños are a dark green to black color and are the mellower, juicier cousin to the green jalapeno. 

Crunchy radish, pumpkin seeds, black jalapenos and purple cabbage all give this taco salad a traditional twist. I love how the different textures come together really nicely to create a satisfying salad. 

My golden rule when it comes to making a salad that is not only delicious, but actually fills you up and keeps you full is a mix of different textures (like the crunchy radishes, cabbage and jalapenos here) plus a source of protein and fat, like avocado. Chicken, fish or quinoa would all be delicious on top of this salad and the pumpkin seeds provide extra plant-based protein too! 

Jalapenos are a good source of vitamin C and A and antioxidants that help protect us from free radicals. They automatically enhance the flavor and texture of anything you add them too! One of my favorite ways to use them to add them to guacamole for that slight spice and texture in every bite. 

What’s your favorite way to enjoy them?

About Kaboom! ® Black Jalapenos 

A mellower and juicier cousin to the traditional green jalapeno, KABOOM!® lends just the right amount of kick to salsa, nachos, or salads. Throw this ebony pepper on the grill and your taste

buds will explode with flavor! They’re juicier and pack less “heat” than traditional green jalapenos, which is great if you’re not a huge fan of spice. 

You may be wondering how a black jalapeno comes to be and if there are GMO’s involved. All of Sunset’s products are Non-GMO Project Verified. This means they are developed the old-fashioned way, through natural plant breeding without any additives.

twisted taco salad with avocado jalapeno dressing

Twisted Taco Salad with Avocado Jalapeno Lime Dressing

Maggie Michalczyk, RDN
This taco salad radish, black jalapeños, pumpkin seeds, purple cabbage and avocado jalapeno lime dressing is super fresh, flavorful and easy to make for lunch or dinner! 
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Servings 2 -3 servings

Ingredients
  

for the salad:

  • 4 cups lettuce I like using two different kinds of lettuce when making a salad to give it more “lift”
  • 1 cup radish sliced
  • 1 ½ cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • 4-5 KABOOM® jalapeños sliced
  • 1 cup shredded purple cabbage
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
  • ¼ cup feta cheese
  • Avocado jalapeno lime dressing:
  • ½ large avocado or 1 small avocado cut in half and pitted
  • 6 tbsp of olive oil
  • Juice from 2 limes about ¼ cup
  • 2 KABOOM® jalapeños seeds and veins removed
  • A handful of cilantro leaves add more to taste
  • Salt to taste

Instructions
 

  • Wash and toss all of the ingredients for the salad together. Top with pumpkin seeds and feta cheese. 
  • For the dressing, place all of the ingredients together in a blender and blend until smooth. Top the salad with the dressing and enjoy!
Keyword taco salad

Thank you Sunset for sponsoring this recipe. I am proud to work with companies that help to make fruits and vegetable consumption more fun and delicious!

More pepper recipes you are sure to love: 

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Easy Meals

Turmeric Salmon Oat Cakes

turmeric salmon oat cakes Take your canned salmon up a notch with these turmeric salmon oat cakes! I get it, eating seafood at least two times a week can be hard. That’s why I cooked up this recipe that pairs fiber-filled oats with high-protein salmon topped off with the spicy heat of healthy turmeric!

Throw these on top of a salad or eat them plain on a bed of greens to reap the benefits. This recipe makes for an easy dinner or leftovers the next day. I’m a big fan of canned salmon and get why to others it might be the least appetizing thing ever. This recipe for turmeric salmon oat cakes will make you want to pick up a can the next time you are grocery shopping, I promise!

 

Turmeric is the spice that gives curry powder its color, and contains anti-inflammatory properties known to prevent disease. I’ll be honest, I don’t love turmeric on everything, but when it’s hidden in a recipe like this one but I can still reap the benefits, I’ll take it!

Be sure to check out my other high protein recipes with and bold flavor with these homemade chicken fingers! P.s. if those recipes got you thinking of pumpkin be sure to check out all of my favorites on my Amazon list!

 

 

turmeric salmon oat cakes

Turmeric Salmon Oat Cakes

Maggie Michalczyk, RDN
Take canned salmon up a notch with these easy turmeric oat salmon cakes! These high in protein cakes, are perfect to throw on a salad, or dip into hummus. The turmeric adds a dose of spicy heat plus numerous health benefits!
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Servings 4 salmon cakes

Ingredients
  

  • 1 can salmon opt for boneless sockeye if possible I like this brand
  • 1 tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 tsp. grated lemon rind
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. turmeric*
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 2 tbsp. your favorite hummus

Instructions
 

  • Place oats in a food processor. Pulse until ground, about 10 seconds. Transfer to a bowl. Add egg, salmon, mustard, 2 teaspoons lemon rind, salt, pepper, turmeric, and garlic powder.
  • Mix to combine.
  • Fill a 1/3-cup dry measuring cup with salmon mixture. 
  • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Add salmon cakes to pan by patting the mixture out of the measuring cup as you flip it over. 
  • Cook for about 2 minutes on each side, until bottoms are golden.
  • Arrange arugula on a plate. Drizzle with squeezed lemon juice. Place salmon cakes over arugula. Add hummus and enjoy! 

Notes

*Don't forget the black pepper! Black pepper helps to increase absorption of turmeric! If you don't have oats, feel free to substitute regular flour, brown rice flour or gluten free flour.

 

XOXO 

MAGGIE 

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