9 Nutrient-Dense Health Tips for Busy Families

Are you stuck on how to get more nutrients into your family's meals? Try one of these nine ways to add nutrients to your diet!

Use Fruit Purees Instead of Butter or Oil in Baked Goods

This is my favorite recipe alteration. I no longer use any butter or oil in bran muffins or zucchini bread. Instead, I use a one-to-one substitution of fruit purees such as apple sauce. It adds more nutrients and cuts calories and fat. Give it a try, your kids will not notice any difference, I promise.

Add Pureed Vegetables to Sauces and Chili

I know some are against "hiding" veggies in meals. I always offer a vegetable as a side dish, so these extra pureed vegetables are just added bonuses. Personally, I am all for hiding veggies when you can, as long as you also continue to work towards getting children to eat them willingly and knowingly.

Mix Ground Flax Seed or Wheat Germ into Pancakes

I've tried serving whole-grain versions of pancakes — both store-bought mixes and homemade — and watched as my little ones refused to eat them. However, they never notice or care when I add extra ground flax seed or wheat germ into a regular pancake mix.

Mini-Muffins Can Be Snacks

Mini zucchini muffins (or other fruit- or vegetable-based breads) make perfect after-school snacks and desserts in home-packed lunches. My kids love the bright-colored reusable silicone muffin cups I use. For whatever reason, this makes the food more exciting.

A Little Prep and Planning Goes a Long Way

If you want your family to eat healthy snacks, keep healthy snacks in easy-to-reach locations. Tweet this For instance, buy baby carrots and store them in snack-sized containers on a refrigerator shelf your child can reach on his or her own. Put other healthy options on the same shelf: yogurt, cottage cheese and sliced fruit. My kids know that when they get hungry between meals, they can choose from these healthy foods.

Make Fruit and Vegetables into Appealing Apps

I like to cut fruit and veggies into interesting shapes or put them on skewers served with low-fat dressings or dips. I find that when I put chopped veggies on the dinner table as I am getting the rest of dinner ready, by the time we eat, those appetizers have disappeared. Hungry kids are so much less picky!

Establish a Healthy Snack Shelf

In your pantry, make sure to have healthy snacks on hand, offered in single-serving containers for portion control. Include options such as popcorn, pretzels, raisins, dry cereal and whole-grain crackers. You can even offer the occasional surprise such as cookies or chips this way — just be sure to keep the portions under control. As an added bonus, these pre-portioned snacks are easy to toss into backpacks or keep on hand for after-school snacks. They also make it easy to grab a snack for myself when I am on the go. Being ready with healthy options helps avoid making unhealthy choices.

Replace Ground Beef with Lean Ground Turkey

Look for ground turkey that is less than 6-percent fat (listed as "94-percent lean" or more). If you're scared to go "cold turkey," start by mixing half ground beef and half lean ground turkey.

Finally: Cook with Your Children!

Try not to think about the mess they are making, or that you could have gotten the meal made faster by yourself. Kids need to learn how to cook, and what better way than alongside their parents? Tweet this But, most importantly, cook with them because children learn by example. If they help prepare it, they're more like to eat it!

Jodi Danen, RD