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Simple, Nutrient Dense Meals to Keep You Energized Throughout the Day

Recent research suggests that American diets are energy-rich and nutrient-poor, meaning that the foods consumed on a regular basis are not providing the proper fuel our bodies need to function at their best. The regular consumption of nutrient-dense foods for health promotion and disease prevention continues to be a centerpiece in nutrition, however most people are unaware of what a nutrient-dense meal really looks like or entails.

The term “nutrient-dense” itself simply means that a food contains a high vitamin and mineral content in relation to weight, but relatively low in calories. In order to have a nutrient-dense meal, foods loaded with vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates, lean protein, healthy fats and antioxidants should be incorporated. It is recommended that a variety of nutrient-dense foods from each of the food groups are consumed on a daily basis. This may include whole grains, low-fat dairy products, fruit, vegetables, lean meats and poultry, seafood, eggs, beans/peas/lentils, unsalted nuts and seeds. These foods naturally contain useful nutritional elements, such as dietary fiber, to keep us feeling full throughout the day.

The preparation of these ingredients is key to building a nutrient-dense plate, as little to no solid fat, added sugar, refined starch, and sodium are also recommended. These meals, however, do not have to be complicated, in fact most are quite simple. With the right ingredients, dinner should supply our body with the necessary nutrients it needs to keep our health a priority. Eating wholesome nutrient-dense meals does not have to be difficult, and one might even find themselves eating a majority of nutrient-dense foods already. The key is recognizing these nutrient-dense foods, and incorporating them into our daily lives.

Listed below is a delicious, healthy recipe for a dinner time meal that will end the day on a positive note. These nutrient-dense ingredients will keep our minds and bodies happy and healthy. Longevity starts with the food we eat, so let’s start today.

Nutrient Dense Dinner Recipe:

Lemon Baked Salmon with Cauliflower Apricot Pilaf (Serves 3)



○ ¾ lb. salmon filet

○ 1 lemon (½ sliced thin; other ½ lemon juice)

○ 2 tsp olive oil

○ ½ tsp minced garlic

○ Salt & pepper

Cauliflower Apricot Pilaf

○ 1-2-lb. head cauliflower

○ ½ red onion

○ 2 cloves garlic

○ 1 large carrot

○ ⅓ cup dried apricots

○ ½ cup parsley

○ 1 Tbsp. olive oil

○ 1 lemon (½ zest; ½ juice)

○ 1/4 cup chicken broth


Preheat the oven to 450°F. Cut the salmon into 4-ounce portions. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat it with olive oil cooking spray.

Mix the lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl. Put the salmon filets on the baking sheet and brush the filets with the olive oil lemon mixture. Season with the salt and pepper, and top with thin slices of lemon. Return to the oven. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the salmon is flakey and opaque.

While the salmon bakes, prepare the pilaf. Place a large skillet over medium heat with a half tablespoon of olive oil. Add the diced onion, carrots and minced garlic to the pan. Grate the cauliflower (a food processor also works, as well as buying pre-packaged cauliflower rice). When the onion is transparent, add the cauliflower to the pan, stirring to coat with another half tablespoon of olive oil. Add the broth to the pan, and reduce heat to low.

Add the minced parsley and diced apricots to the pilaf, along with the lemon zest. Stir occasionally, allowing the cauliflower rice to brown a bit. Season the pilaf with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the pilaf onto plates and place the salmon on top. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the dish.

This recipe provides a variety of quality foods and flavors, with ingredients that may surprise you. Not only is this recipe nutrient-dense, but it is also a great meal to stay on track of any weight loss goals. This healthy meal will provide energy for both the brain and the body, with room to add another vegetable or your favorite fruit for something sweet. Give this recipe a try, and be sure to share with us how it turns out and that’s our Advice for Eating for today!

By: Erika Richter, Intern


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