While expanding the spectrum of the healthy food we feed our children might sound like it requires journeying far into distant, unexplored aisles for obscure groceries, the truth is, making healthier choices is as simple as modifying the staples we already have in our pantry. Since meat and poultry are mainstays for the majority of U.S. households, incorporating turkey, which has more protein, less fat, and less calories versus other meats and poultries (and zero saturated fat in the breast when the skin is removed), can transform the nutritional value for this food group.

According to Sherrie Rosenblatt, a spokeswoman for the National Turkey Federation, “Not only is turkey the perfect protein, but it’s also incredibly versatile in terms of recipes and cooking methods. It’s like a blank canvas that takes on any flavor profile very well, whether that be Italian, Southwestern, Asian, or any other style of cuisine.”

Upgrade your meal

"By incorporating grains into your family’s diet, you can enjoy a bounteous range of nutrients, including iron, folic acid, essential B vitamins, potassium, and fiber that help maintain weight, boost immunity, lower blood pressure, prevent some forms of cancer, and increase energy."

Last year, the organization launched an online meal upgrade calculator on www.mealupgrade.com which shows families how to upgrade traditional family meals, such as hamburgers or lasagna, by incorporating less fat and calories through the integration of turkey. The success of the site inspired the NTF to implement a new suite of features this year, including guidance for preparing more nutritious packed lunches for school, recommended outdoor activities for families, and healthy dining out options.

Rosenblatt emphasizes that the service was created in order to “help busy moms and time-starved families realize the importance of simple changes and conscious decisions. It’s about maintaining taste, while lowering calories and fat, for breakfast, lunch,and dinner.”

Get enough grains

A second category of food that offers a hidden wealth of nutritional value is grains, which commonly appear in a range of wheat, barley, oats, millet, and rye. According to the Grains Food Foundation, simply exploring “a variety of grains not only ensures that you get more nutrients,but also helps make your meals and snacks more interesting.”

By incorporating grains into your family’s diet, you can enjoy a bounteous range of nutrients, including iron, folic acid, essential B vitamins, potassium, and fiber that help maintain weight, boost immunity, lower blood pressure, prevent some forms of cancer, and increase energy. And that’s great for everyone. Introducing healthier versions of familiar foods to the dinner table, the lunch box, and the picnic basket can help you, as a parent, ease the transition to healthier eating habits without having to face your child’s reluctance to trying a new food.