Nutrient Dense Food Ideas

Add calories and protein without increasing the portion size of your meal or snack. Think about it like adding calorie dense ingredients to your meals. Here's a few ideas, just don't forget to make it fun and delicious!


Andrea Fleishel RD and Jessica Gentile PA-C

3/9/20232 min read

sliced meat on white ceramic plate
sliced meat on white ceramic plate
person holding cup of coffee with berries
person holding cup of coffee with berries
strawberries in white ceramic bowl
strawberries in white ceramic bowl

Soup up your Soups

Boost your Smoothie

Power up your (Cream of) Wheaties

  • Add whole milk, heavy cream, coconut cream, or powdered milk to make a creamy version of soups.

  • Sneak vegetables like potatoes or broccoli into bold soup bases for added vitamins and minerals.

  • After soup is cooled to room temperature or cold, you can toss it in the blender or food processor to puree.

  • Add unflavored protein or collagen powder

  • Top with goodies like croutons, cheese, avocado or sour cream.

  • Add yogurt - Aim for high protein content yogurts like greek or Icelandic, or higher fat like 2%

  • Add frozen or fresh fruits and veggies

  • Add 1-2 scoops of whey, casein, or plant based protein powder in your favorite flavor.

    • Hint: Chocolate and peanut butter flavored protein powders can mask the taste of other ingredients.

  • Use whole milk, milk alternatives like almond or oat, or you can even use ready to drink nutritional supplements like Boost or Ensure as the liquid ingredient.

  • Other add-ins: A spoonful of nut butter, raw nuts or seeds (chia, walnuts, hemp hearts etc), and avocado all help to increase calorie and protein content.

  • If needed, add 1-2 tablespoons of honey or maple syrup as a sweetener.

  • Swap water for whole milk, heavy cream or milk alternative to prepare your oatmeal or cream of wheat.

  • Mix in 1 scoop of your favorite protein powder to boost the nutritional content.

  • Add a generous serving of peanut butter or other nut butter.

  • Top with dried or fresh fruit, sliced nuts or even chocolate chips for flavor and texture.


  • Head to your local bulk/wholesale club for cost efficient frozen fruits and veggies to add to your smoothies and soups.

  • Make your smoothies in bulk! You can make a large batch in a “pitcher” style blender and split up into multiple servings throughout the day.

  • Not a fan of bland oatmeal? Vanilla, chocolate, and other flavored protein powders can add extra flavor to your oatmeal.

  • If you have a nut allergy, try adding sunflower butter as a nut butter alternative to your oatmeal and smoothies.

  • Sweets too much for the morning? Try savory oatmeal- cheddar cheese, chives, garlic made with chicken boullion. Add cooked mushrooms, and kale and top with a fried egg and enjoy.