Nutrition-wise blog

Picture perfect eating

By Jennifer K. Nelson, R.D., L.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. February 16, 2011

At your next meal, take a moment to look at your food. Notice how it looks on the plate. Is it attractive? Notice the colors, textures, shapes and sizes of the different foods. Does the sight please your eye as much as your palate?

For a twist on healthy meal planning, pretend you're a chef or food stylist. The empty plate is your canvas. Half of it will be filled with fruits and vegetables, one-fourth will be protein and the final fourth can be grains or starchy foods. Now think about creating a meal that could be the cover of a food magazine. It will need to be colorful, and have a variety of shapes and textures.

How would you picture lasagna? Will it have layers of red plum tomato sauce, crescent-shaped zucchini, white low-fat ricotta speckled with green spinach leaves, and wavy whole-grain lasagna noodles? Or perhaps you're imaging lasagna deconstructed, with each food individually displayed on the plate. How would you present a fish dinner? Would the plate hold steamed bright green and orange vegetables, a crusty whole-grain hard roll, and white fish with green herbs and a wedge of lemon? Or would you pile up dark green and purple lettuce leaves, sprinkled with bite-size squares of red bell pepper, kernels of yellow corn, and white and green cucumbers, topped with grilled tuna steak and a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette?

Now you have some ideas for putting together meals that are as tempting as they are healthy. Use these mental images — or mix them up — to create real meals. Who knows, you may discover you're a budding food artist.

Let me know if this technique for healthy meal planning helps you enjoy more nutritious meals.

Enjoy,

Katherine

Feb. 16, 2011