My Plate

A couple of years ago the USDA decided to do away with the “MyPyramid” and switched it with “MyPlate,” as a better example of what Americans should try for everyday to make sure all their nutritional needs are being met! This example is more consumer friendly because you don’t have to deal with all the percentages on the pyramid, and can instead look at a plate and make all your meals match it, to the best of your ability.

Many consumers haven’t realized that MyPyramid has been replaced! So this blog will explain the general concept of it and some easy ways to apply better nutrition practices in your everyday life. Then throughout the next couple of blogs I will do a series of sorts on each different component. Hopefully it will help dispel any myths about fad-diets or other nutritional things you’ve heard and will help uncloud healthy eating.

Here is what MyPlate looks like!
http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/

There are even actual plates you can buy that have all the little sections like this, or you can just use your judgement on a regular plate.

The basic premise is to make half of every meal fruits and vegetables. This is probably the hardest part to get for most Americans (myself included!) but it’s the most important! There is no unhealthy vegetable or fruit – they all have great things in them that we need every day!! Go out on a limb and try new vegetables and keep it interesting. There are a ton of recipes for everything online these days, so the possibilities are endless!!! This is when it can also be fun for cooking because this component adds so much color to meals!! The more different colors, the better!

Try Leah’s fruit salsa recipe for a colorful assortment of fruits:

Fruit Salsa:

  • ½ Can crushed pineapple
  • 1/2 pint blueberries
  • 1 Cup diced fresh strawberries
  • 1 peach, diced
  • ½ pint raspberries
  • ½ pint blackberries
  • 1-2 jalapenos, diced finely

Instructions

  1. Salt to taste
  2. Combine all of the fruits together in a bowl.  Add the finely diced jalapenos a little at a time to control the heat.
  3. Taste for seasoning and add a sprinkle of salt to bring all of the sweet and hot flavors together.
  4. This salsa is delicious over grilled fish or chicken or simply served with tortilla chips.  You can also pour the salsa over a block of cream cheese and drizzle it with honey.  Serve the cream cheese with crackers as a unique (and easy) appetizer.

Grains can be tricky, because people think so often that carbs are evil and should be cut out. First off, any diet that completely cuts out a food group (including fat) is not a healthy diet!! There’s a reason each of the groups exists, and, in fact, carbs should be where most of your calories come from! I’ll get into each group into more detail in the coming posts, but as a general tip when it comes to grains make sure that the majority (if not all) of them are WHOLE grains!! When looking at bread or pasta, or whatever, the first ingredient should be WHOLE wheat flour. These provide more nutrients than other breads, and more fiber which most Americans don’t get.

Protein is arguably one of the most important aspects of a well balanced diet. Protein allows your body to function properly, gain muscle, and a host of other things. When thinking about your protein, try to make it lean cuts. Lean beef or pork, chicken, turkey, even tofu. And it is recommended that twice a week your protein source be seafood.

The last part of MyPlate is Dairy. Dairy is also really important, as it’s typically a main source of calcium which is mega important. But when choosing your milk, stay away from whole milk and try to go for fat-free (skim) or 1% if possible. You get the same benefits of calcium and vitamins, but without the extra fat and calories from higher fat milks.  Silk or soy milk is a great alternative, or add some low-fat yogurt to your meal.

That was a really, really brief overview of MyPlate, and hopefully it wasn’t too confusing!! Other important things to watch in general are portion sizes, eating slower so you eat less, and just taking control of what you put in your food. Nutrition is such an essential part of life, and can really be life changing!! Hopefully with the next few posts you’ll be more aware of what you’re putting in your body, and how to make healthier choices!  — Jordan

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