Nutrition plays a vital role in the prevention of lead poisoning. Our bodies need certain amounts of calcium, iron, and vitamin C in order to function properly. If the body lacks sufficient amounts of these nutrients, it will more easily absorb any lead that has been ingested. A balanced diet rich in calcium, iron, and vitamin C is an essential part of keeping you and your children lead safe.

Foods that are high in fat actually increase the body’s lead absorption. Avoid fast food, doughnuts, potato chips, and fried foods. Use less butter, oil, lard, and margarine when cooking.

There are many excellent cookbooks available to help you find healthy, low-fat recipes. Visit the bookshelf at your local library or food cooperative for an introduction to cooking with whole, unprocessed, nutritional ingredients. 

Here are some great sources of lead-safe nutrients:


  • Low-fat milk
  • Low-fat yogurt
  • Cheese, including low-fat cottage and hard cheeses
  • Green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, collards, and spinach
  • Calcium-enriched products, including soy milk and orange juice


  • Lean red meat
  • Chicken and turkey
  • Seafood
  • Tofu
  • Beans, peas, and lentils
  • Iron-fortified breakfast cereals
  • Dark green and leafy vegetables
  • Dried fruit, including raisins
  • Peanut butter
  • Wheat germ


  • Oranges and orange juice
  • Grapefruit and grapefruit juice
  • Potatoes cooked in the skin (baked, sliced thin then grilled in foil, or boiled)
  • Tomatoes
  • Dark green and leafy vegetables

Easy Tips for a Lead-Safe Diet

Yogurt Parfaits make a delicious and pretty snack or dessert for kids and adults, and are easy to make, low in fat, and high in calcium, iron, and vitamin C. In a clear glass or plastic cup, alternate layers of nonfat vanilla or flavored yogurt with iron-fortified crunchy cereal (raisins are a plus!) and sliced fresh or frozen strawberries or canned mandarin oranges.

Improvise salads using bagged salad green mixes, nuts, drained canned beans, shredded or cubed low-fat cheeses, fruit such as oranges, strawberries, or grapefruit, and tomatoes. Top with a fat-free salad dressing, or make one using plain nonfat yogurt, a little lemon juice, garlic, some chopped fresh herbs and salt and pepper.

Make sandwich spreads with canned seafood (salmon or tuna) mixed with nonfat yogurt or sour cream, chopped onion, chopped celery, and a squirt of lemon juice.
Freeze yogurt or orange juice in small paper cups. Add tongue depressors to make popsicles.

Kids love yogurt. Buy plain, nonfat yogurt in large containers, and mix it with fresh, canned, or frozen fruit. For a more expensive treat, purchase pre-packed yogurt in individual squeeze tubes. Freeze them for a summer snack. 
Canned salmon is a great source of calcium if you mash the soft, edible bones up and eat them along with the fish. Look for salmon loaf recipes, or low-fat cream of salmon soup. Top a handful of washed spinach with a small can of salmon, add shredded carrots and sliced cucumber. Serve with a teaspoon of your favorite oil-based salad dressing.

Peanut butter spread on sticks of celery and topped with raisins makes a delicious, high-iron snack that kids enjoy making for themselves. Or spread peanut butter on apple halves.

Boxed rice mixes can be served with any kind of canned bean for a hot, satisfying meal. Try spanish rice mix with black beans, rice pilaf with kidney beans, etc. Add a can of stewed tomatoes to increase the lead-safety factor of the dish. Serve with hot sauce or dried-fruit chutney and steamed broccoli. Make enough to pack for the next day’s lunch.

Experiment with cooked, leafy green vegetables. Saute an onion in 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Add as much chopped garlic as you wish; two to three cloves at least. Add washed, chopped greens, such as kale, chard, spinach, or collards, and cook until just tender. Finish the dish with a splash of vinegar, soy sauce, or any prepared Asian cooking sauce. For a variation, toss in a can of black-eyed peas or navy beans. Check out your local farmers market in the summer for a wonderful variety of inexpensive greens.

Meal & Snack Ideas

Between meals offer small snacks such as: Cereal with low-fat milk, whole wheat crackers with cheese, apple or pear slices, oranges or bananas, raisins, yogurt, frozen fruit juice pops, and fruit smoothies.

Oatmeal swirlers
Sliced banana
Orange juice
— Or —
Cheese omelet
Low-fat milk
— Or —
French toast
Orange sections
Low-fat milk

Grilled cheese & tomato
Low-fat milk
— Or —
Tuna salad sandwich
Cranberry juice
Pear slices
— Or —
Pizza bagel
100% fruit juice
Fresh or canned peaches
Low-fat milk

Sloppy joes
Low-fat milk
— Or —
Macaroni and cheese
Stewed tomatoes
Melon slice
— Or —
Chicken stew

Fun Recipes for the Whole Family

Makes 8-10 servings

4-5 celery sticks
1 container of cream cheese
1 large packet of raisins

Wash celery; cut into 4: to 5: sticks. Spread the cream cheese over the celery stick (inside the opening). Place several raisins (“Ants”) on top

Makes 3-5 servings

4 cups of cooked macaroni
3 cups of grated cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons of margarine
2 tablespoons of flour
Vegetable oil Salt and pepper
2 cups of low-fat milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat casserole dish with vegetable oil. Mix cooked macaroni with grated cheese and pour into casserole. Melt margarine in a pan. Remove from heat, stir in flour. Return to heat. Add low-fat milk slowly, stirring until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour over macaroni. Stir. Cover. Bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes.

Makes 2-3 servings

1 Cup milk or yogurt
1 Cup fresh or frozen berries
1 ripe banana

Mix all ingredients together in blender or use a wire whisk. Mix until smooth.

Makes 2-3 servings

3 eggs
1 tablespoon of low-fat milk
Vegetable oil
3 tablespoons of cheese

Mix eggs and milk in a bowl. Lightly coat pan with vegetable oil. Use medium heat. Add egg mixture and cook. When omelet is cooked on the bottom, add cheese. When cheese is melted, fold omelet in half. Top with salsa if you like. Serve with toast, fruit, and low-fat milk.

Makes 6-8 servings

3 pounds of frying chicken, cut up into small pieces
Vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
28 ounce can of stewed tomatoes
Poultry seasoning

Lightly coat pot with vegetable oil. Use medium heat. Cook chicken until it is well done. Add can of stewed tomatoes. Add vegetables and seasoning. Cover and cook over low heat for 30 minutes. Serve with rice or noodles.

Makes 4-6 servings

3 eggs, beaten
½ cup of low-fat milk
Vegetable oil
6 slices of bread
2 bananas, sliced

Mix eggs and milk. Lightly coat pan with vegetable oil. Use medium heat. Dip bread into egg mixture, so that bread is covered. Brown one side of bread in pan. Sprinkle top with cinnamon. Turn over bread and brown the other side. Top with sliced banana. Serve with low-fat milk.

Makes 1 serving

2 slices of wheat bread
2 slices of cheese
1 slice tomato
Vegetable oil or Cooking spray

Make sandwich using bread, cheese, and tomato. Lightly coat pan with vegetable oil or cooking spray. Brown sandwich on both sides over low heat to melt cheese. Serve with milk or fruit juice.

Makes 4-6 servings

1½ Cups of quick cooking oats
1/3 Cup of peanut butter
1/3 Cup of fruit jelly or jam

Follow the package directions to cook oats. Spoon peanut butter and jelly on top of cooked oatmeal. Stir and spoon into bowls. Serve with low-fat milk.

Makes 1-2 servings

1 Navel Orange

Wash orange. Cut into 8 wedges by slicing through 4 times starting at the ends. Remove seeds. Show child how to eat pulp out of the wedges.


1 bagel
2 tablespoons of tomato sauce
Garlic, basil, or oregano
2 tablespoons of cheddar cheese or part-skim mozzarella

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice open a bagel and place on a flat pan. Add tomato sauce, seasonings, and cheese. Bake for 3 minutes or until cheese melts. Serve with fruit juice.

Makes 4-6 servings

1 pound of lean ground beef, turkey, or chicken
1 small onion, chopped
½ green pepper, chopped
1 cup of tomato sauce
Your choice of seasonings
5 hamburger buns or pita pocket breads

In a pan, cook lean ground meat, onion, and green pepper until meat is well done. Drain fat. Stir in tomato sauce and seasonings. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes. Spoon into hamburger bun or pita. Serve with fruit juice.

Makes 2 serving

4 slices of bread
1 can of water packed tuna
4 teaspoons of low-fat mayonnaise
Onion and celery, chopped

Mix tuna with low-fat mayonnaise, onion, and celery. Try you sandwich with cheese, tomato and lettuce. Serve with low-fat milk.

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