March is National Nutrition Month and this year’s theme is “Celebrate a World of Flavors”. During the first week of March, nutrition professionals focused on eating a variety of nutritious foods by including foods from all food groups in your diet and to incorporate your favorite cultural foods and traditions.
Using the MyPlate guidelines is an easy way to make sure that you are including foods from all food groups in your diet; fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables, fill the other half of your plate with grains and lean protein and have 2 – 3 servings of low fat or no fat dairy.
These guidelines encourage us to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables and to choose whole grains like barley, bulgur, quinoa, and wheat. The guidelines urge us to choose lean cuts of meat like chicken breast and pork tenderloin and to look for plant-based protein foods such as beans and lentils.
We sometimes think that foods from different cultures are high in fat and calories and this certainly is a possibility. Mexican foods are often laden with sauces and cheese, some Chinese foods are deep fried and Italian dishes tend to be based on high carbohydrate pasta. However, these cultures offer a variety of healthy options.
- Latin American inspired MyPlate
- Toasted Corn Tortillas for tacos
- Grilled shrimp or fish tacos
- Brown rice Spanish Rice
- Whole beans seasoned with garlic, onion, and peppers
- Thai inspired MyPlate
- Brown rice instead of white
- Chicken breast stir fry with lots of fresh vegetables
- Add lots of flavor with ginger, garlic, and chilis
- Italian inspired MyPlate
- Vegetable based soup like Minestrone
- Whole grain pastas instead of white
- Chicken or turkey meatballs instead of beef
With a little planning and imagination, meals can be full of flavors from many cultures while meeting our nutrition needs. A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist can help!