Nutritious Bites--The month of March is just a touch past half way so working on “Get Your Plate in Shape” is hopefully moving forward nicely. If you need a refresher, or if you are still struggling finding the right balance, let’s take another look.
One of the big goals for a healthy plate, as outlined by Myplate.gov, is to fill one half of your plate with vegetables and fruits. Choosing more darkly colored or strongly flavored fruits and vegetables pushes the health benefits of those food groups even more.
As you plan your menus think about color and flavor, these ideas might help.
- A small baked potato topped with salsa and low-fat cheese
- A green salad topped with broccoli flowerets, grated carrots, pepper strips and strawberries
- Top a whole grain cereal with blueberries or strawberries
- Grill veggie kabobs of tomatoes, pepper, squash and red onion
- Enjoy a smoothie of low-fat milk or yogurt, frozen or fresh strawberries, a banana and peanut butter
- Add grated carrots to meatloaf or marinara
- Puree fruits to use on pancakes or waffles instead of syrup
- Top angel food cake with sliced berries
In addition to boosting your intake of fruits and vegetables another big goal of a healthier plate is shifting grain choices to whole grains to help boost fiber and overall health benefits. Better grain choices include whole wheat bread, cereal, or pasta, brown rice, quinoa, barley, oats or popcorn for starters.
When choosing bread, cereal or pasta make sure that the list of ingredients indicates whole wheat flour not just wheat flour. Many packages indicate whole grain on the front label, or they may say “made with whole grain,” but the list of ingredients is where you will learn if the product is 100 percent whole grain.
While something “made with whole grain” is better than a similar item that does not include whole grain the maximum health benefit comes from items that are 100 percent whole grain.
If you prefer more processed grains like white rice or white bread you can still use these foods but choose 100 percent whole grain foods for other grain choices to ensure you are getting all the benefits of whole grains.
For more information on National Nutrition Month and improving your food choices, visit http://www.eatright.org/nnm.