Savor the Flavor of Eating Right

Ready for beach season? Spring is a great time to focus some attention on the importance of eating a balanced diet.  This year, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is promoting the theme “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right” which encourages everyone to take time to enjoy food traditions and appreciate the pleasures, great flavors and social experiences food can add to our lives.   

Here is a quick quiz to see how your diet stacks up to the current recommendations?

Are you consuming the following each day?
  • 2 cups of Fruits    YES     NO        
  • 2.5 cups of Vegetables   YES    NO
  • 6 ounces of Grains (with at least half of them whole grains)  YES   NO
  • 5.5 ounces of Protein (including seafood & beans)  YES  NO

If you answered no to any of the above, then check out the below tips.

Not getting enough Fruits and/or Vegetables? Well you are not alone! In fact, only 1 in 10 Americans eats enough fruits and veggie daily1! Try to add veggies throughout day whether it is adding leftover veggies from dinner to your omelet in the morning, bringing raw veggies as a snack with some hummus, or sneaking in some extra veggies in your next meatloaf or even meatball recipe. Fruit is the perfect snack to fulfill that sweet craving, while providing additional positive nutrients like fiber and vitamin C.  For the ideal snack, try consuming fruit with a source of protein/fat such as a handful of nuts or 1-2 Tbsp of your favorite nut butter to help keep you full longer.  

Not getting enough Whole Grains? Grains are important sources of many nutrients, including B vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folate, minerals such as iron and magnesium and dietary fiber.  Dietary fiber from whole grains and other foods has a slew of benefits such as helping to reduce blood cholesterol levels, lower risk of heart disease, obesity type 2 diabetes and maintaining proper bowel function2.  The USDA’s MyPlate recommends making half your grains whole grains.  In order to achieve this, try replacing the white rice in your next dish with brown rice, quinoa, farro, barley or freekah.  For those of you following a gluten free diet: Amaranth, Buckwheat, Millet, Quinoa, Sorghum and Teff may be some additional options3. Not familiar with some of these grains? Well this month is the perfect time to experiment! Check out this Quinoa and Kale Salad with Fresh Herb Recipe

Need help varying up your protein? Majority of Americans do not have an issue consuming enough protein, but often are overdoing it with their consumption of red and processed meats.  Instead try to incorporate more variety including seafood, beans, unsalted nuts and seeds.  In fact, did you know that 2016 is the year of the Pulses? Pulses include dry beans, dry peas, chickpeas and lentils and are a great addition to salads, soups and chili.  Not only are pulses good for you, high in protein, fiber and various vitamins, but they are also good for the earth as a low carbon footprint food4. Try this Tuscan Bean Dip Recipe or Lentil Citrus Salad with Goat Cheese Recipe.  

References:
1)    http://news.health.com/2015/07/10/only-1-in-10-americans-eats-enough-fruits-and-veggies-cdc/
2)    USDA My Plate 
3)    Oldways Whole Grains Council 
4)    Pulses 

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