Nutrition-wise blog

Get your plate in shape

By Jennifer K. Nelson, R.D., L.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. March 13, 2012

March is National Nutrition Month and this year's theme is "Get your plate in shape." Building on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the release of MyPlate, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics wants you to pause before each meal to make sure you're eating the healthiest foods in the right amounts and in the right balance. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is half or more of my plate fruits or vegetables?
  • Is no more than one-quarter of my plate grains, preferably whole grains?
  • Is the remaining quarter lean protein about the size of a deck of cards?

March is the perfect time to take stock — after all spring is in the air and the mind turns to new beginnings. So why not try something new in the kitchen? Here are some dishes I've cooked up in my kitchen.

Veggies and fruits

  • Wilted spinach topped with sauteed onions and mushrooms.
  • Roasted red peppers, peeled and sprinkled with a bit of low-fat feta, fresh basil and balsamic vinegar. Asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli and beets are also good candidates. Just toss with a little oil and grill or roast.
  • Soups loaded with vegetables. Try new flavor combinations: ginger and edamame (Asian), corn and chiles (Hispanic), fish and tomatoes (Mediterranean), or chickpeas and peanuts (African).
  • Any fresh fruit, sliced and tossed with mint or cilantro. Or try a dash of cinnamon or a drizzle of maple syrup.

Whole grains

  • Brown or wild rice mixed with veggies and herbs, or onions and fruit, and topped with a few chopped nuts.
  • Quinoa mixed with diced tomatoes, cucumber, onion, parsley, a few olives and a squirt of lemon or lime juice.
  • Whole-wheat pita bread stuffed with salad.

Lean proteins

  • Pan-seared fish with veggies, or fish and veggies cooked in foil packets.
  • Tuna on top of salads or on a few whole wheat crackers as an appetizer.
  • Thinly sliced poultry, beef or pork with grilled veggies.

How's your plate shaping up? What new things have you tried?

- Jennifer

Mar. 13, 2012