It's March, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is celebrating National Nutrition Month®. The theme for 2013 is “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day”. Let's all join the celebration and make healthful food choices - while embracing individual food preferences, lifestyles, cultural and ethnic traditions!
Holly Larson, M.S., R.D.
MyPlate Goes Global – Interpreting the nutrition guidelines to embrace diverse cuisines: The USDA has been providing nutrition guidelines to the American public since 1894. MyPlate is USDA’s newest consumer tool to help Americans put the Dietary Guidelines into action.
MyPlate is simple; start with a plate that isn’t too big, about 8 to 10 inches across, and divide it into four sections. Two sections, making up one half of the plate, are for your fruits and vegetables (the vegetable section is slightly larger than the fruit section). The other two sections are for whole grains and starches and for protein-rich foods. There is also a place next to the plate for dairy. What does your plate look like at dinner? Is there room for improvement?
When using MyPlate to plan a meal, feel free to mix the food groups together. Start with your fruits and vegetables as the foundation of your meal and build from there! Whole grains such as oatmeal, brown rice and whole wheat bread are the best choice before refined grains such as white rice or sugary breakfast cereals. Lean proteins such as eggs, chicken or beans complete the meal.
Some may find it challenging to understand how their favorite mixed dishes fit into the MyPlate pictorial guide. Regardless of your cultural preferences for foods or ethnic traditions, MyPlate can be a useful guide to good eating!
Here are a few ideas to try.
Rice bowl: Rice is the staple grain around the world. Pack a greater nutrition punch by starting with brown or wild rice in a reasonable portion - ½ to 1 cup cooked. Stir fry colorful vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, bell peppers and onions and choose shrimp or tofu for your lean protein. Skip the salt and season with fresh garlic and ginger. Short on time? Grab a frozen vegetable blend, frozen shrimp and quick brown rice for a delicious dinner - fast! Sliced strawberries on top of Greek yogurt makes an easy dessert and completes the MyPlate food groups - try it topped with cocoa powder or cinnamon for a boost of flavor.
Vegetable salad pizza: Have you seen upscale pizzeria offering pizzas topped with salad? The cool crunch of the salad contrasts nicely with the cheesy warmth of the pizza. If you’re preparing dinner for kids, the best bet is to split some whole grain English muffins and to provide an assortment of vegetables so that everyone can be their own chef. If they’re hesitant to try a new vegetable, ask them to use the vegetables to make funny faces and they may forget their fears! Read labels to choose lower sodium tomato sauce and season with basil and oregano. While the pizzas bake in the oven, toss together a quick salad with lots of color. Top each pizza with a scoop of salad, slice some apples for the side and dinner is served!
Tango Tacos: Latin food is delicious and can be a great vehicle for getting more vegetables into your diet. Warm some whole-grain corn tortillas and fill with grilled chicken, lean beef or black beans, then top with a few sprinkles of cheese and load up on the sautéed onions and peppers, shredded lettuce and pico de gallo. Round out the meal with a duet of fresh pineapple and mango cubes and some avocado salad.
MyPlate is a great visual tool for meal planning in any cuisine - just remember to start with the fruits and vegetables and build from there.
From MyPlate to yours, have a healthy day!
For more information:
Some of Campbell’s culturally diverse and nutritious recipes:
Umami-Bomb Pizza with Arugula, Heirloom Tomatoes & Goat Cheese
Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Coconut Tomato Red Curry
Southwest White Chicken Chili
Moroccan-Style Chicken Sandwich
Holly Larson, M.S., R.D.
Holly Larson completed her Bachelor of Science in Human and Consumer Sciences and her Master of Science in Clinical Dietetics at The Ohio State University. She is a registered dietitian, freelance writer and blogger based in Ohio. In her free time Holly enjoys biking, gardening, cooking and traveling. Good nutrition was the foundation of her bicycle ride from New York to DC. Her favorite meal is brunch. You can follow Holly on her blog, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.