Healthy Eating: Stealthy Tricks, Improve Your Diet (cont.)

Among the benefits of calcium (found in dairy products and green vegetables) is that it helps prevent osteoporosis. But it's not just older people who need it. Calcium is also critical during childhood and early adulthood, to help build bones and teeth.

To make sure you (and your family) are getting enough:

  • Use evaporated skim milk, which Ward says has twice the calcium of regular milk, in mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and soups.
  • Add a tablespoon of powdered milk to hot cocoa.
  • Prepare oatmeal in the microwave with milk instead of water.
  • Thicken casseroles with powdered milk.
  • Stir cottage cheese into hot or cold pasta dishes.
  • Add cottage cheese to salsa as a dip for baked tortilla chips or toasted pita bread chips.
  • When you're hungry for Italian, try making manicotti, lasagna, or ravioli with calcium-rich ricotta cheese (use the part-skim variety, or even try cottage cheese).
  • Spread ricotta on raisin toast for a mid-morning snack.
  • Use nonfat plain yogurt in place of sour cream for making dips and double the calcium.
  • Sprinkle low-fat cheese on baked potatoes, chili, and vegetables.

Getting Into the Healthy Eating Habit

You don't have to commit this entire list of tricks to memory. "Once you nail down four or five ways to sneak in different nutrients, you have the problem licked, at least for awhile," Ward says.

But once you master a few stealth nutrition tactics, keep trying new ones to help keep boredom at bay. And who knows? You may even trick yourself right into a healthy diet -- no rabbit food required -- with your taste buds none the wiser.

Originally published Nov. 11, 2003
Medically updated Oct. 15, 2004.

SOURCES: WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise: "Healthy Eating." Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD, nutrition consultant; author of Stealth Health: How To Sneak Nutrition Painlessly Into Your Diet. Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, nutrition consultant; author of Healthy Foods, Healthy Kids.

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