As we close out this month we want to focus our attention on developing a lifetime of healthier eating and physical activity habits. Using USDA’s MyPlate as a model for healthful eating is a great tool for people wanting to make simple changes in eating habits that can benefit them for a lifetime.
MyPlate is a simple visual tool that shows consumers how to incorporate the current dietary guidelines into meals. The MyPlate icon is divided into four (4) sections plus a circle in the upper right of the plate. Half of the plate includes two (2) sections: fruits and vegetables (the vegetable section is a little larger than the fruit section). The other half of the plate includes two (2) additional sections: grains and proteins (the grains section is larger than the protein section). The circle represents dairy.
Get Your Plate in Shape Using MyPlate
Fruits & Veggies. Remember to make half of your plate fruits and vegetables.
- Include a vegetable or fruit salad with meals.
- Serve a fruit plate or vegetable crudités as an appetizer.
- Enjoy cold gazpacho or cold strawberry soup during warm weather.
- Serve a vegetable or fruit soup at the beginning of a meal.
- Enjoy raw fruits and vegetables for snacks.
- Use fruits and vegetables as edible garnishes for meals.
Whole Grains. Try to make at least half of your grains whole grains. Whole-grain breads and cereals, pasta, and brown rice are examples.
Low-Fat Protein. Choose a wide variety low-fat protein sources (fish, lean meats and poultry), and prepare by baking, broiling or other methods using minimal or no added fat (see Healthy Cooking Methods below).
Low-Fat Dairy. Use fat-free and low-fat milk and milk products. Try using these in a dessert such as pudding, tapioca or a fruit cup with a yogurt topping.
Healthy Cooking Methods
Food preparation is an important part of creating a healthier plate. Get in the habit of using cooking methods that require little or no added fat. Examples include steaming, poaching in fat-free liquid, sautéing in a minimal amount of oil, braising, broiling, grilling, and stir-frying in a fat-free broth or with a minimal amount of oil.
- Season foods with herbs and spices instead of salt and other high-sodium seasonings. Herbs and spices add flavor to every type of food, from savory to sweet dishes. The fresh herbs that are available in many grocery stores today are especially delicious for seasoning foods.
- Use fruit juice and shredded citrus peel to season seafood, red meat, and poultry.
- Experiment with a variety of vinegars to add flavor to soups, chili and stir-fry dishes.
Incorporate vegetable-based protein sources in your meals regularly. Grains and legumes including dried beans, lentils and peas are extremely versatile and can be served solo or in casseroles, soups and other dishes.
Choose this healthy treat over desserts that are high in fat, refined carbohydrates and added sugar.
Triple Berry Dessert
- ¼ cup sliced almonds
- 2 cups fat free vanilla yogurt
- ½ teaspoon coconut flavoring
- 2 cups combined blueberries, raspberries and blackberries (fresh or frozen)
Preheat oven to 350° F. Line baking pan or cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Spread almonds on aluminum foil in a single layer. Bake almonds 5 to 10 minutes stirring a time or two while baking. If using fresh berries, wash and dry on paper towels. If using frozen berries, defrost and drain on paper towels.
Meanwhile pour about ½ cup of the yogurt in a medium mixing bowl and add coconut flavoring. Stir to mix well. Add remaining yogurt and mix thoroughly. Add berries and fold in gently. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with toasted almonds.
Nutrition information per serving: This recipe makes 4 servings. Each serving contains approximately 143 calories and 5 grams fat.
Serving Suggestions: This can be served as a dessert or in a green leaf lettuce cup as a fruit salad.