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!

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


  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

Healthy Fruit Juice Options

Not sure if you’ve seen the commercials, but the makers of Silk have come out with an alternative to fruit juice (finally!). I’m in no way dissing fruit juice, I personally love it. It’s a great way to get a serving of fruit (depending on the type) and some vitamins and minerals that I just don’t get from food on a daily basis. And let’s be honest….it’s fruity, and tasty!! The only downside I have with fruit juice is that it is completely LOADED with sugar!!! So when I saw the new Silk commercials, I was really excited.


Now, I do have a slight disclaimer…I try to actually try anything I blog about, but this I haven’t tried. I’ve looked for it in a couple grocery stores but haven’t seem to find it yet. But I do use Silk for my milk and chocolate milk (yay lactose intolerance) and absolutely love them! And honestly I’d probably drink Silk even if I could have regular milk. They fortify it with more calcium and vitamins than regular milk, and frankly, it lasts a lot longer! So I’m assuming that the fruit drink is just as tasty! If it’s like Silk, I’m imagining it will be sort of like a smoothie-like drink as opposed to a juice. There are currently 3 flavors available: Mango Peach, Mixed Berry, and Strawberry Banana.

Now, the good thing about this drink is that it not only has less calories than other fruit drinks, but it also contains less carbs and less than HALF the amount of sugar!! What a difference!! It also has fiber, which a couple other fruit drinks I looked at did not, and it has Vitamins A, C, D, Iron, Calcium, and Folate in higher amounts than other drinks. Compared to other drinks, it has up to 5 times as much calcium…five times!! In this day and age when so many people are calcium and Vitamin D deficient, have a tasty way to raise those levels is a big deal!! And the sugar levels are significantly better!!

If you want more information on these products, or any other products Silk produces you can look on their website and it’s all listed…very user friendly!  –Jordan Walker

Camp Gladiator!

It is finally August. Honestly, I kind of thought that July was never going to end! But here we are. And we have an exciting new partnership that is starting in August! We are teaming up with Camp Gladiator! It is a new type of boot camp! They offer a new type of workout program. They have group classes that meet all over town. The workouts are an hour long and are different every day. Every camp lasts 4 weeks. They take a week off to recover and then they start it all up again with new workouts! Once you’ve done the initial camp, they offer a great discount so that you can keep going!

The Olive Branch is partnering with them to offer discounts to group members on our meals. We will be giving away $5 gift cards to new members and we are rolling out nutrition info on many of our popular meals. Do you know that we have complete meals that are under 700 calories?

The “Lighter Limb” of The Olive Branch

(Under 700 calories)


Spinach Wrap –                                                                                                                                           506 calories – Fluffy eggs, fresh spinach and diced tomatoes, with feta cheese in a giant spinach tortilla

Southwest Wrap –                                                                                                                                        530 calories – Sautéed onions & bell peppers with diced tomatoes and pepper jack cheese in a spicy chipotle wrap

French Toast (with 2 syrups)                                                                                                                              579 calories – Sliced French bread in our homemade orange-vanilla cinnamon custard



Sub Fruit                                                                                                With chips

Ham and Cheese on whole wheat                                                    685 calories                                          529 calories

Turkey and Cheese on whole wheat                                                672 calories                                          516 calories

Roast Beef and Cheese on whole wheat                                         662 calories                                          506 calories

½ Roasted veggie on whole wheat with fruit                  627 calories

½ Santa Fe on whole wheat with fruit                                              670 calories


Large Garden Salad with house vinaigrette                                                181 calories

Large Caesar Salad with 2 homemade Caesar dressings                        442 calories

Large Orchard Salad with house citrus vinaigrette                                  689 calories                             519 calories w/o bacon

Large Southwest Salad with house vinaigrette and no chips               203 calories

Add grill chicken breast                                                      110 calories
Nutrition is important to us. I believe that it contributes directly to overall health and our ability to function well. We are very picky at The Olive Branch about how our food is prepared. We don’t fry anything. All of our soups and sauces are made from scratch. We choose our food suppliers carefully and use local produce and suppliers when possible.

I am excited to see this partnership grow. I am glad that Camp Gladiator has chosen Waco as a place to invest. We wish them much success as they start their new endeavor. Check them out at this website and get signed up! (254-716-4753) Their next camp starts August 6th! Just in time to get in gear for school starting up!

Introducing Jordan

I’d like to introduce everyone to my new intern, Jordan Walker. She is going to be contributing to my blog by posting helpful, healthy tips. Nutrition is important to me in my line of work. I don’t always cook low-fat or light foods, but using real foods and real ingredients is very important to me. Jordan shares that theory and is helping me explore new foods and ingredients. Keep checking the blog to get introduced to them too! Now here’s a little about Jordan…

Hello everyone! My name is Jordan Walker and I am a senior Nutrition major at Baylor University. Food is my passion, whether it be baking, cooking, or eating. The way I see it, if food can be delicious AND healthy at the same time, there’s no downside! And the more I learn about the link between nutrition and disease, the more insight I’ll have to become a nutrition professional who leads people into a healthier lifestyle. Contributing to blogs like this, as well as my own, will hopefully help me to educate myself and others of little, easy ways to become healthier!

My end goal is to become a Registered Dietitian, although what venue is still undecided. I’ve learned so much through my courses at Baylor, and would love to share my knowledge with you! With a myriad of health concerns out there, it’s incredible to see the relationship between our bodies and how the food we eat can affect us! And there’s such a stigma of healthy food tasting like cardboard
or just being gross, but that doesn’t have to be the case!

So I hope my future blog posts will be little kernels of knowledge that will introduce you to things that will keep you holistically healthy!