It can be easier than you may think to eat more vegetables throughout your day. Eating vegetables is important because they provide vitamins and minerals and most are low in calories. To fit more vegetables in your meals, we’re encouraging them as snacks as well, not just meals. Here are 9 easy ways you can eat more vegetables every day:
Discover Fast Ways to Cook- Cook fresh or frozen vegetables in the microwave for a quick-and-easy dish to add to any meal. Steam green beans, carrots, or broccoli in a bowl with a small amount of water in the microwave for a quick side dish.
Be Ahead of the Game- Cut up a batch of bell peppers, carrots, or broccoli. Pre-package them to use when time is limited. You can enjoy them on a salad, with a hummus dip, or in a veggie wrap.
Choose Vegetables Rich in Color- Brighten your plate with vegetables that are red, orange, or dark green. They are full of vitamins and minerals. Try acorn squash, cherry tomatoes, sweet potatoes, or collard greens. They not only taste great but also are good for you, too.
Check the Freezer Aisle- Frozen vegetables are quick and easy to use and are just as nutritious as fresh veggies. Try adding frozen vegetables, such as corn, peas, green beans, or spinach to your favorite dish. Look for frozen vegetables without added sauces, gravies, butter, or cream.
Stock Up on Veggies- Canned vegetables are a great addition to any meal, so keep on hand canned tomatoes, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, mushrooms, and beets. Select those labeled as “reduced sodium,” “low sodium,” or “no salt added.”
Make Your Garden Salad Glow with Color- Brighten your salad by using colorful vegetables such as black beans, sliced red bell peppers, shredded radishes, chopped red cabbage or carrots. Your salad will not only look good but taste good, too.
Sip on Some Vegetable Soup- Heat it and eat it. Try tomato, butternut squash, or garden vegetable soup. Look for reduced- or low-sodium soups. Make your own soups with a low-sodium broth and your favorite vegetables.
While You’re Out- If dinner is away from home, no need to worry. When ordering, ask for an extra side of vegetables or side salad instead of the typical fried side dish. Ask for toppings and dressings on the side.
Savor the Flavor of Seasonal Vegetables- Buy vegetables that are in season for maximum flavor at a lower cost. Check your local supermarket specials for the best-in-season buys. Or visit your local farmer’s market.
The tips featured in this blog post were developed by the USDA. For more information, visit myplate.org.
7 tips on how to vary your protein routine
When you think of protein do you think of meat on the grill or crispy chicken? While protein is found in animal sources such as meat, poultry and fish it is also in plant sources such as nuts and seeds, peanut butter, eggs, beans and soy products.
We all need protein. Protein is a macronutrient and one of the building blocks of the human body. It plays a role in bone and muscle growth as well as aids in hormone and molecular reactions in the body. Our bodies need 5 to 7 ounces of protein a day (1 or 2 servings of palm-sized protein at each meal).
Here are 7 tips on how to vary your protein routine:
Variety, variety, variety – Set a goal to have a variety of protein in your diet each week whether it is from animal protein (meat, chicken and fish) or plant protein (eggs, peanut butter, nuts and seeds, beans and soy). Try eating fish a couple of times each week or substitute meat for plant protein such as black beans or lentils. Having a variety guarantees we are benefiting from all protein has to offer!
Select lean meat and poultry – Choose lean cuts of meat like round or sirloin and ground beef that is at least 93% lean. Trim or drain fat from meat and remove poultry skin. To save money, select ground turkey or chicken in place of ground beef.
Keep it tasty and healthy – Try grilling, broiling, roasting, or baking—they don’t add extra fat. Some lean meats need slow, moist cooking to be tender—try a slow cooker for them. Avoid breading meat or poultry, which adds calories.
Think small when it comes to protein portions – Protein is an important nutrient, but we often consume it in large portion sizes. Protein should take up ¼ of your plate, think a deck of cards or the size of your palm when fixing your plate.
Eat plant protein foods more often – Try beans and peas (kidney, pinto, black, or white beans; split peas; chickpeas; hummus) and soy products (tofu, tempeh, veggie burgers). They are lower in saturated fat and some are higher in fiber.
Try nuts and seeds – Nuts and seeds may be small but they pack a healthy punch in our diet! They contain protein, healthy fat, iron and fiber. Nuts and seeds are a concentrated source of calories, so eat small portions to keep calories in check. One serving is a handful or about ¼ cup. Nuts and seeds make a great snack or add-in for a crunch in a salad.
Save with eggs– Eggs can be an inexpensive protein option and part of a healthy eating style. Make eggs part of your weekly choices.
National Nutrition Month: Consult a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)
March is National Nutrition Month®️, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics wants to help give everyone the tools to make informed food choices and develop healthful eating and physical activity habits for life. This year’s theme is to Personalize Your Plate, and this week’s message is to: consult a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)
Anyone can call themselves a nutritionist, but only RDN’s have met the comprehensive standards established by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. RDN’s have a bachelor’s degree, are taught a specially designed nutrition curriculum, pass a national registration examination, and complete an extensive supervised internship. About half of all RDN’s have a graduate degree, and many have advanced certifications in specialized fields. RDN’s are the food and nutrition experts and can meet you where you’re at to help you achieve your goals.
Here for 5 tips for working with a RDN.
1. Ask your doctor for a referral to an RDN
Many private insurers, state Medicaid plans, and Medicare cover visits for certain preventive services and health conditions with a referral from your physician.
Call your insurance provider and ask questions to find out what nutrition services are covered with your plan.
2. Receive personal nutrition advice to meet your goals
Whether your goal is to slim down, lower your cholesterol, or to simply eat better, a RDN can help you avoid fad diets and can provide you with a sound, easy to follow plan that is tailored to you, your goals, and your lifestyle.
A RDN can help provide you with the best path from where you are now to where you want to be.
3. Meet RDNs in a variety of settings throughout your community
RDNs can be found working in the treatment and prevention of disease, in community and public health settings, in research, and in many other non-traditional work settings.
Hospitals – RDNs educate patients about nutrition, provide medical nutrition therapy, provide nutrition support, and manage the foodservice operations.
Schools – RDNs create healthy menus, help create wellness policies, and may provide nutrition education to help kids learn about the importance of a balanced diet early on.
Community and Public Health Centers – RDNs help the public improve their quality of life through teaching balanced eating habits.
Private Practice – RDNs provide individual client counseling to help people meet their goals.
4. Find an RDN who is specialized to serve your unique needs
When you have a chronic disease, like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, or cancer, it can be hard to know what to eat. A RDN can help you with a personalized eating plan that includes the important nutrients to help you manage your condition.
When you have food allergies or sensitivities, a RDN can teach you how to read food labels, help you identify which ingredients to avoid, and help you find tasty substitutions to keep your diet balanced.
When you or your child are a picky eater, a RDN can help identify nutritional risks and help recommend strategies to help you or your child achieve a balanced diet.
5. Thrive through the transformative power of food and nutrition – good nutrition benefits other areas of your health and life, including:
Reduced risk of chronic disease
Improved ability to learn and concentrate
Improved ability to fight off illness
Thank you for following along with us for National Nutrition Month. You can also follow us on Facebook and find healthy recipes here.
National Nutrition Month: Learn skills to create tasty meals!
March is National Nutrition Month®, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics wants to help give everyone the tools to make informed food choices and develop healthful eating and physical activity habits for life. This year’s theme is to Personalize Your Plate, and this week’s message is to learn skills to create tasty meals!
Here are 5 tips to learn how to create tasty meals!
1. Keep healthful ingredients on hand. Life happens, and sometimes, you aren’t able to run to the store but still need to whip up a quick and balanced meal. A well-stocked kitchen will ensure you’re able to do this.
Shelf-stable products – dried or canned beans, peas, and lentils; low sodium or no sodium added canned vegetables; whole grains, like brown rice, quinoa, and oats; canned fish and chicken; vegetable oils; dried herbs and spices
2. Practice proper home food safety. Practicing food safety at all times will help slow the growth of some bacteria that can make you sick.
Wash – before touching any foods, after touching raw poultry/meat/seafood/eggs, after throwing something away, after using chemicals, and before eating, thoroughly wash your hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds.
Refrigerate – make sure raw and cooked meats, milk, cheese, yogurt, and eggs are refrigerated within two hours of being taken out of the refrigerator.
Separate – keep raw poultry, seafood, meats, and eggs away from prepared and ready-to-eat foods.
Cook – make sure all poultry, seafood, meats, and eggs are cooked to their safe internal temperature.
3. Share meals together as a family when possible. Research shows that families tend to eat healthier, try more foods, and consume more appropriate portion sizes when eating together.
Make it a habit – choose one meal that works for the entire family, and choose to consistently eat together.
Pay attention to each other – turn off the TV, phones, and video games. Take time to talk to and appreciate the people around you.
Get everyone involved – have your kids help you pick out healthy recipes, prepare meals, and cook. Use this time to teach them about healthful eating habits.
4. Reduce food waste. Americans throw away billions of pounds of food each year, but you can easily reduce your impact.
Plan meals based on foods you already have – what foods do you already have that can be incorporated into meals? When buying perishable foods, buy only what you need and will be able to use before they go bad.
Utilize leftovers – safely store and eat leftovers for a healthy, easy to prepare meal. Get creative with your leftovers and make a new soup, salad, or sandwich with it.
Know the shelf life of foods – “Use by,” “Best by,” and “Best Before” dates are often found on condiments and shelf-stable foods. These foods are usually safe to consume long after that date if they have been stored per package instructions. “Sell by” dates are often found on perishable food items. These foods are usually safe to consume a few days after that date as long as they have been stored at a safe temperature.
Keep food safe – Store foods at safe temperatures and per package instructions. Eat leftovers within 4 days, or freeze them for up to 4 months. If a food doesn’t smell or taste right, don’t risk your health by eating it.
5. Try new flavors and foods. Make meals more fun and nutritious by expanding your range of food choices.
It starts in the store – when shopping, make a point of selecting a fruit, vegetable, or whole grain that’s new to you.
Keep it comfortable – don’t put pressure on yourself when eating. Try new foods by yourself or with a non-judgmental friend.
Start small – serve one new food along with familiar favorites you know you love.
Keep trying – research shows that the more times we try a food, the more we may like it. Just because you don’t like it this time doesn’t mean you won’t like it ever. Try preparing it in a different way or topping it with a sauce.
Check back next week for more National Nutrition Month information! You can also follow us on Facebook and find healthy recipes here.
National Nutrition Month: Plan Your Meals Each Week
March is National Nutrition Month®, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics wants to help give everyone the tools to make informed food choices and develop healthful eating and physical activity habits for life. This year’s theme is to Personalize Your Plate, and this week’s message is to: plan your meals each week!
Follow these 5 tips to help you know how to make a plan to eat a balanced diet.
Use a grocery list to shop for healthful foods
Fruits – fresh, frozen, and fruits canned in 100% fruit juice.
Vegetables – fresh, frozen, and canned vegetables labeled “no sodium added” or “low sodium.”
Grains – looks for items with “whole wheat” or “whole grain” on the label. Look for items that have “whole wheat” or “whole wheat flour” as the first ingredient in the ingredient list. Compare products, and choose the one with more fiber and less added sugars.
Protein – choose fresh and frozen unprocessed skinless poultry, fish, seafood, lean pork, and lean beef. Choose canned meats and fish labeled “no sodium added” or “low sodium.”
Dairy – choose low-fat and fat-free milk, yogurt, and cheese and calcium-fortified soymilk.
Condiments and oils – while this isn’t part of MyPlate Guidelines, condiments and oils are used in almost every dish. Choose condiments that are low in saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars. Choose plant oils that are liquid at room temperature and are lower in saturated fats.
Be menu-savy when dining out
Look for nutrition information – many restaurants, especially chain restaurants, have calorie information listed next to the food item on the menu. Information on fat, sodium, carbohydrates, fiber, added sugar, and protein should be available upon request or online.
Look for keywords – sometimes, restaurants don’t provide nutrition information. Words like “crunchy,” “crispy,” “battered,” “breaded,” “creamy,” “cheesy,” and “alfredo” all indicate that an item might be higher in calories and saturated fat. Words like “baked,” “grilled,” “roasted,” “steamed,” “al fresco,” and “marinara” indicate that an item might be lower in calories and a more healthful option.
Portions matter – restaurants often serve food in much larger portions that we need. Ask for a to-go box when you get your food, and immediately put half of it away for later to help prevent you from overeating.
Choose healthful recipes to make during the week
Keep MyPlate Recommendations in mind – choose meals that fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, choose whole grains for at least half your meals, vary your protein routine, and include low-fat and fat free dairy.
Browse these websites for healthy recipes and meal inspiration:
Plan the night before – pack a balanced lunch and snacks to help you avoid unplanned eating out for lunch and snacking on candy when you get hungry in the afternoon.
Be prepared – keep single-serve packages of whole-grain crackers, fruit, peanut butter, soup, or tuna at your desk for a quick lunch.
Avoid mindless eating – keep snacks off your desk and hidden away to help prevent you from eating when you aren’t hungry.
Plan healthful eating while traveling
Think ahead – research restaurants along the way and at your destination so you can easily choose places with healthful choices.
Pack healthy choices – bring fruits, vegetables, nut butter, pre-portioned trail mix, whole grain snack bars, and your other favorite, healthy snacks so you don’t feel the need to get chips and a candy bar when you stop for gas.
Balance your meals – if you plan to indulge for dinner, have a lighter breakfast and lunch.
Check back next week for more National Nutrition Month information! You can also follow us on Facebook and find healthy recipes here.