Embrace National Nutrition Month®, 2017
“Put Your Best Fork Forward”
Jennifer Fleming, MS, RD, Penny Kris-Etherton, PhD, RD
National Nutrition Month is an annual educational campaign that is sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). Since its inception, the focus of the campaign has been on educating the public about making informed food decisions and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. This month, we share our passion for good nutrition practices and present strategies you can implement that are in keeping with 2017’s theme, "Put Your Best Fork Forward". A core tenant is that eating healthier can be done by making small changes in your diet over time. A guiding philosophy is that small changes over time can make a difference. Thus, we encourage readers to start small and, as noted by the AND President, Lucille Beseler, this can be achieved “one forkful at a time”.
The theme, "Put Your Best Fork Forward", acts as a reminder that each bite counts. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest starting with small changes in order to make healthier lasting changes you can enjoy. So whether you are planning meals to prepare at home or making selections when eating out, Put Your Best Fork Forward to develop a healthy eating lifestyle for you and your family.
Here are some tips to try out in March in honor of National Nutrition Month:
- Create an eating style that includes a variety of your favorite, healthy foods. Use www.ChooseMyPlate.gov to plan meals that are healthful and portion controlled. Include more fruits and vegetables in your diet aiming for at least half your plate to consist of these nutrient-dense foods. If you look at your current diet you might realize you’re not eating enough fruits or vegetables. Try adding a serving each day to one meal and increase it every few weeks. Including more of these foods into your diet is important and with greater variety, the broader spectrum of nutrients your body needs.
- Practice cooking more at home and experiment with healthier ingredients. This is a great opportunity to get your family involved. Let each person take a turn at planning a new meal and preparing it at home. Try taking your favorite recipe and modifying it to be healthier. For example, substitute unsweetened applesauce for the butter, use low fat milk instead of cream or whole milk, switch to whole grain pasta instead of refined pasta. The American Heart Association has a wealth of information about healthy eating (http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Healthy-Eating_UCM_001188_SubHomePage.jsp).
- How much we eat is just as important as what we eat. Eat and drink the right amount for you, as ChooseMyPlate encourages us to do. Too often, people categorize foods as “good” or “bad” and that only those on the ‘good foods’ list are okay . When making food choices, focus instead on those that are rich in vitamins and minerals. In other words, choose nutrient dense foods while still being mindful of portion size and calories. You can use the SuperTracker tool on www.choosemyplate.gov to estimate how many calories you need to achieve a healthy weight. You will find meal plans with recommended amounts of each food group that you need to achieve a healthy diet.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics invites you to visit its National Nutrition Month website for great information throughout the month of March. Go to www.eatright.org/resources/national-nutrition-month and find tip sheets, videos, recipes and more. We hope you decide to “Put Your Best Fork Forward” and take steps toward a healthier and more balanced lifestyle.
For this month’s selections we will help you make small steps to increase consumption of fruits and veggies by adding a little flavor to some of your favorites.
Vegetable of the Month: Broccoli
Broccoli has been around for more than 2,000 years, but Americans have only been growing it for only about 200 years! The most common type of broccoli is the Italian green variety that is characterized by green stalks topped with umbrella shape clusters of purplish-green florets.
When choosing broccoli, look for bunches that are dark green. Good color indicates high nutrient content. Choose stalks that are very firm. Avoid broccoli with open, flowering, discolored, or water-soaked buds that have tough, woody stems.
Each serving equals 1 cup of vegetables
3 cups chopped broccoli (or 2-10 ounce packages frozen broccoli)
½ cup diced celery
½ cup chopped onion
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups nonfat milk
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
¼ tsp. salt
Dash ground pepper
Dash ground thyme
¼ cup grated low-fat Swiss cheese
Place vegetables and broth in saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and cook until vegetables are tender (about 8 minutes). Mix milk, cornstarch, salt, pepper, and thyme; add to cooked vegetables. Cook, stirring constantly, until the soup is slightly thickened and mixture just begins to boil. Remove from heat. Add cheese and stir until melted.
Nutritional Analysis: Calories 140 , Fat 3 g, Saturated Fat 1 g, Protein 11 g, Cholesterol 10 mg, Carbohydrates 20 g, Fiber 5 g, Sodium 270 mg.
Fruit of the Month:
Fruit of the Month: Fresh Orange
Highly valued for their Vitamin C content, eating one whole medium-sized orange provides 140% of the recommended daily allowance for Vitamin C. Oranges have much more to offer than that though – including sufficient amounts of folacin, calcium, potassium, thiamin, niacin, and magnesium.
Look for oranges that are firm and heavy with bright, colorful skins. Avoid fruit with bruised, wrinkled, or discolored skins. Oranges can be stored at room temperature, in the refrigerator without plastic bags, or in the crisper drawer for up to 2 weeks. The whole fruit should never be frozen and do not ripen further after harvest.
Green and Orange Salad
Each serving equals 0.5 cup of fruits or vegetables
1½ Tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup fresh parsley, minced
3 Tbsp. orange juice
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Boston or bibb lettuce
Peel and section the oranges, removing all the membranes. Place in a large bowl and sprinkle with parsley and chives. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, garlic, orange juice, Dijon mustard and salt and pepper. Pour over the oranges and toss well. Serve over a bed of lettuce.
Nutritional Analysis Per Serving: Calories 100, Fat 3 g, Saturated Fat 0.5 g, Protein 2 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Carbohydrates 20 g, Fiber 4 g, Sodium 50 mg.