Nutrition with MyPlate & World of Flavors
Carla Hay-Perdue, DNP, APRN, FNP, ANP-BC, NC-BC
Community Education Coordinator/ Family Nurse Practitioner at Palo Pinto General Hospital
March 28, 2022
March is National Nutrition Month. The theme this year is Celebrate a World of Flavors! This theme encourages you to follow the My Plate eating style to promote a balanced and healthful meal across all cultures and cuisine. My plate is an easy way to achieve a balanced diet. It incorporates the principles of the Mediterranean pyramid in an easy-to-follow guide.
1. Fruit and Vegetables – Eat the rainbow! Each color contains a different phytonutrient that is good for our health. Choose fresh, frozen, dried, or canned in 100% juice. Try adding fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables to salads sides and main dishes. Explore preparing your vegetables using different methods such as sautéing, roasting, grilling, or raw. The more of these food groups you eat, the better!
2. Grains and Starches – That is ¼ of your plate. Look for the word whole when choosing grains.
Look for the label that says whole grains! Limit (or eliminate) any refined grains like white rice and white bread. Other starches include vegetables high in carbohydrates like potatoes, yucca, plantains, corn, and pumpkin.
- Protein – Choose fish, poultry beans, and nuts.
Use small amounts of red meat (beef, lamb, and pork) as party foods during celebrations. Avoid bacon, cold cuts, and other processed meats. The World Health Organization has identified processed meats as a definite cause of cancer and red meat as a possible cause of cancer. Red meat contains vitamins and nutrients such as amino acids, vitamin D, B6, B12, iron, selenium, and zinc. Some of the harmful components in meat start with the antibiotics and growth hormones given to the animals born and raised in factories. If you eat red meat, eat pasture-raised, grass-fed, hormone and antibiotic-free meat. It is better to bake, boil, or broil. The burnt crust of charred or smoked meat contains some of the same carcinogens in cigarette smoke or air pollution. It is better to use the oven.
- Dairy – includes milk, yogurt, or cheeses. Plant milk such as almond, soy, or oat milk is a healthy alternative. Choose low-fat or non-dairy options to limit saturated fats.
- Spices – Spices are full of flavor and health benefits. Use them often! Each spice contains different phytochemicals that have health benefits. Cinnamon is our most commonly used spice. It is anti-inflammatory and helps control blood sugar, and lowers cholesterol and triglycerides. Turmeric is the most researched. It is a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant and can help with brain health. Use a variety of spices to flavor your food!
Beverages – Water is the best. Has everyone been drinking their water? Staying hydrated is especially important as we head into the warmer months here in Texas. In fact, not only does water help you stay hydrated in the heat, but water is essential in almost every aspect of wellness – even including sleep. In addition, water is excellent for helping manage body weight since it has zero calories and is sugar-free. Alternatively, the average 20 oz bottle of regular soda contains about 1/4th cup of sugar, 250 calories, and provides no real nutritional value. Have trouble drinking the recommended 8 cups of water each day? Try flavoring your water with fresh fruit to change the taste, and always remember to take your water on the go!
So how can we celebrate a World of Flavors? Here are a few examples!
Mexican – Fruits and Veggies: Onions, Peppers, Avocado. Pico. Protein: 3 ounces Chicken or ½ cup of charro or black beans. Grain: 1 corn or whole-grain wheat tortilla. Dairy: 2 tablespoons Sour Cream. Or 1 Tablespoon Sour Cream and 2 Tablespoons of shredded cheese. Spices: Include cilantro, parsley, cumin for flavor.
Italian – Fruit and Veggies: Salad with Cherry Tomatoes, Lettuce, Olives, Peppers, Onions, or other favorite veggies, Marinara Sauce. Grain: 1 cup of whole-wheat pasta. Protein: ½ cup Cannoli Beans or 3 ounces of a lean ground Beef meatball. Dairy 2 T shredded Parmesan Cheese. Spices like oregano, basil, and garlic are used.
Chinese – Veggies: Cabbage, broccoli, carrots, watercress, bock Choy, snow peas, mushrooms, celery. Sweet potato Fruit: Pears, Peaches, Berries. Plums Grains: Soba Noodles, Brown Rice, whole wheat noodles, or wonton skins Protein: Tofu, Chicken, Pork, or Shrimp. Dairy: soy, rice, coconut, or almond milk. It is mainly used in cooking. Spice it up with Ginger, fennel, cinnamon, or cardamom,
Celebrating a World of Flavors encourages us to try different cuisines. There are healthy choices from each culture that can be used to nourish ourselves, learn about one another, and appreciate our diversity.
Alexander, Heather. (2022). How to cook meat and keep your cancer risk low. MD Anderson Center. Retrieved from Red meat cooking and cancer risk | MD Anderson Cancer Center
Celebrate a World of Flavor. (2021). Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Retrieved from Academy: Celebrate a World of Flavors During National Nutrition Month® 2022 (eatrightpro.org)
MedMunch (2019). 15 Mediterranean herbs, spices and seasonings every cook needs. Retrieved from 15 Mediterranean Herbs, Spices & Seasonings Every Cook Needs – MedMunch