Here at Effective Coverage, we’re all about making every action count. We have written before about ways to scientifically hack your diet; by using the ketogenic diet to make your body burn its own fat supply for energy, for example, or by implementing the use of superfoods, to boost your immune system. Today we want to talk about utilizing nutrient-dense foods. Just because something is healthy doesn’t mean it can’t also be delicious.
What are nutrient-dense foods? Anything that provides nutrients that are necessary for survival. A nutrient is simply any substance that provides nourishment for an organism to grow, thrive, and reproduce. Nutrients are broken down into two different types; macronutrients and micronutrients.
Macronutrients: These are needed in large amounts by living organisms in order to grow and develop, and are broken into three main categories; proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.
Micronutrients: These are needed in smaller amounts than macronutrients, but just because you need less, does not make them any less important! These are made up of vitamins and minerals and are necessary for normal growth and development of living organisms.
Nutrient-Density: How to Upgrade Every Meal Without Sacrificing Taste
So you know nutrients are essential for your survival, but how can you improve your health at every meal without sacrificing flavor and taste? It’s actually quite simple.
There are five different kinds of taste that humans can detect. One of the best ways to make any food taste good is to make sure you are incorporating all five taste categories into one meal. The five components of taste are salty, sour, sweet, bitter, and savory. Each of these tastes affects a different part of the tongue, and learning to balance flavors is a key component in understanding how to make food enjoyable.
And enjoyment is a huge part of our mealtimes anyway, regardless of how we feel about that. So many events in our lives are based around food; holidays, work potlucks, parties, weddings, and even the day to day experience of a family dinner. The thought of eating a meal for its health benefits alone is very tempting, but for many people, it is unrealistic to think that this is sustainable long-term, unless the meal is flavorful and enjoyable.
Nutrient-Dense Recipes To Get You Started
You probably know that it’s far better to get all of your nutrients from real foods rather than relying on supplements and vitamins to provide the same thing. As a general rule of thumb, everything your body needs in order to thrive should be derived from your diet (unless of course, you have a specific health issue or ailment).
It is often smart to try and eat foods in their cleanest, least-processed state. For example, it’s much healthier to eat an entire apple than eat a serving of applesauce. This is because you are eating the apple in its purest form–no nutrients or vitamins have been messed with. Even the simple process of cooking breaks food down a bit. This is not to say you should never cook, but just beware of highly processed foods or “Frankenfoods” that don’t resemble anything from nature–like a cheese puff, for example.
It just makes sense to construct your meals from foods that are nutrient-dense to begin with, so that your meals can be supercharged with everything you need. Here are a few recipes to get you started that sacrifice neither nutrients nor taste.
Sweet Potato Taco Bowl from My Kitchen Love.
This is an easy way to satisfy a craving for tacos without compromising on any health benefits.
Greek-Style Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers from Not Enough Cinnamon
Quinoa is a whole grain that is also considered a complete protein. It takes the place of rice that traditional stuffed peppers often have. This recipe is filled with bright, clean flavors that will satisfy.
African Sweet Potato and Chicken Stew from EatingWell Magazine
This stew is loaded with good-for-you foods and flavors. The sweet potato and vegetables make it jam-packed with nutrients, and the peanut butter and spices give it a fantastic flavor complexity to keep you satisfied.
Nutrient-dense doesn’t have to mean flavorless. Hopefully, this article has given you some ideas and inspiration to ramp up your nutrients’ flavor profiles. Let us know if you tried any of these recipes on our Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #ECEats.