meal upgrades

Sometimes we just don’t have the ability to eat as healthy as we’d like. That’s why this article from our green & glowing friends at Chalkboard Mag comes right on time. Below they’re sharing easy ways to nutritionally boost the meals we love… because what could it hurt to sprinkle that mac ‘n cheese with some seaweed?

Make upgrades, not sacrifices. From mineral-rich sea salt to powerfully cleansing kelp and fresh herbs, this list of seven ingredients will help you majorly upgrade your food. When it comes to making healthier meals, simpler tends to be safer – but bland food can leave us feeling unsatisfied and send us running to our snack stash for a flavor fix. Rather than getting stuck in a rigid routine (or fall victim to unhealthy but delicious distractions), we’re keeping things fresh by elevating the health factor in meals we already love with simple tips from holistic nutritionist, Kristin Dahl.

Creating healthy meals is actually a lot easier than you think! The first step is to make the most of your meals at home. The second step is to upgrade them with alkalizing and powerfully nutritious add-ons. Adding basic herbs to every meal is an easy way to turn an average dish into medicinal fare. As is upgrading your salts and oils to those that support the body in re-mineralizing and restoring balance. Making small upgrades to everyday meals lowers inflammation, boosts immunity and deeply nourishes the body.

Get inspired with these tasty, nutrient-rich meal enhancers:


Coconuts have incredible health benefits. The meat contains fiber and protein, the water is loaded with electrolytes and the oil has antimicrobial, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. Coconuts reduce inflammation, boost immunity, support brain function and increase metabolism. Coconut oil also helps to lower cholesterol and supports heart health. Raw, organic virgin coconut oil is best used in low temperature cooking or baking as it has a smoke point of 280-365°. Refined coconut oil has a higher smoke point of 400-450° and less coconut flavor. Add the meat and water to upgrade your smoothie or add tablespoon of raw coconut oil to your coffee to slow the absorption of caffeine and regulate your energy. For more coconut cooking inspiration, check out Meredith Baird’s cookbook, Coconut Kitchen, and this TCM coconut recipe round-up!


Salt can be a good thing! This pink salt contains 84 trace minerals and other important bio compounds that your body needs to promote a healthy pH. It can also help balance blood sugar and improve your sleeping patterns. Upgrade any dish with a few dashes and add a pinch to water after a long workout to rebalance electrolytes. Read up on the other benefits of pink salt here.


Fermented foods such as coconut yogurt, miso, kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, umeboshi plums and natto have been used for centuries to restore healthy gut flora and enzymes. Fermentation predigests food to create probiotics, which help absorb essential minerals and vitamins such as B12 and vitamin C.

Easy Upgrades to Make Your Meals Heathlier | DARLING
Image via Anna Delores Photography


Seaweed such as nori, kelp, dulse, arame, wakame and kombu are all rich sources of iodine that help to stimulate weight loss and reduce cellulite. Seaweed is highly beneficial as it helps to purify and alkalize the blood and eliminate toxins like heavy metals and radiation from the body. Did you know seaweed contains up to ten times more calcium than milk!? Make a nori wrap, some veggie sushi (this recipe is a favorite!) or sprinkle some dulse on your soups and salads as replacement for salt.


Chlorella, spirulina, blue-green algae, red-marine algae and marine phytoplankton are all examples of an ideal vitamin-mineral package. The soft cell wall allows for easy absorption of rich phytonutrients, including trace elements, amino acids, B12, chlorophyll and omega-3 essential fatty acids and enzymes. Algae is known to improve brain and immune function, promote detoxification, reduce inflammation and improve circulation, energy and endurance. Add a teaspoon to smoothies for an immediate boost or try out this chlorella vegan ice cream recipe!


Sprouts are packed with enzymes and nutrients essential for vitality and life force. Experts estimate that there can be up to 100 times more enzymes in sprouts than uncooked fruits and vegetables.spirulinaThese enzymes are essential for extracting more vitamins, minerals, amino acids and essential fatty acids from the foods we eat. Sprouts are also loaded with protein! They improve the digestive process, boost the metabolism, prevent anemia, help with weight loss, lower cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, protect against cancer, boost skin health, improve vision and support the immune system. Toss these into every dish! They are especially tasty on salads. Sprouting is also a ridiculously easy DIY – check out this TCM guide to sprouting at home!

eggs avocado toast
Image via Hannah Burton


Herbs and spices are packed with potent phytonutrients and disease-preventing medicinal qualities. Here are a few of my favorites:

Garlic is an amazing antiseptic, anti-coagulant, anti-fungal, antibiotic and antiviral – and it reduces cholesterol. It is also a powerful solution for fighting off a cold or the flu.

Ginger increases blood circulation, prevents nausea, lowers cholesterol and relieves pain.

Cayenne pepper helps with digestion, relieves migraine pain, prevents blood clots, provides detox support, relieves joint and nerve pain, supports weight loss and works as an anti-irritant. Learn more about this superfood spice here.

Cinnamon lowers blood-sugar levels and reduces the risk for heart disease.

Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory. It is known for reducing inflammation and easing symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Turmeric also improves the skin’s complexion, bringing circulation and nutrients to the skin. Check out this simple kitchen hack for an easy way to incorporate more turmeric into your cooking!

*The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease.  All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health related program. 

Feature Image via Amanda Greeley


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