By Mallory Shan, RD, LDN, Nutritionist
March is National Nutrition Month!
National Nutrition Month is an annual nutrition campaign sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, formerly known as the American Dietetic Association, which aims to promote healthy eating and healthy lifestyles. This year’s theme for National Nutrition Month is “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right.”
When it comes to food, our taste buds often speak louder than the weighing scale. In my experience counseling patients, the number one barrier that I hear is “But healthy foods don’t taste as good!” Here are some tips from a Registered Dietitian that may help you eat healthy without sacrificing taste:
1) Tweak your favorite family recipe with healthier substitutes. Eating healthy doesn’t necessarily mean eliminating familiar foods you grew up eating. A few changes can go a long way:
- Instead of frying, opt for baking. You are able to get the same crispy texture without sending your weight or cholesterol level off the roof.
- Instead of using butter or margarine, opt for oil. Oil is an unsaturated, heart-healthy fat. But make sure you still stick to the portion size of 1 Tablespoon.
- Instead of using salt, opt for spices and herbs. Lower the amount of sodium you eat by using cumin, paprika, basil, oregano instead of salt, Adobo, and bouillon cubes!
- Instead of using ground pork or beef, opt for ground turkey or chicken. Poultry are naturally lower in fat, making it a healthier protein option for the whole family when making pasta, burgers, or soup.
- Instead of white pasta, bread, rice and flour, opt for whole grain pasta, bread, rice and flour. Whole grain products have more fiber, vitamins, and minerals that can keep you full for longer, and have many added health benefits, especially against diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
- Instead of full fat condiments and dairy products, opt for low fat or fat free versions. This is often the simplest change you can make, especially for salad dressing, mayo, milk, cheese, and yogurt—you can cut out as much as 200 calories a day just by switching!
2) It’s all about the portion size—rearrange your plate! According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines, a healthy plate is ½ fruits and vegetables, ¼ lean protein, and ¼ carbohydrate. But most of our plates look more like ½ protein and ½ carbohydrate. Decrease the portion size of those foods and add in your favorite fruit and vegetable for a balanced and lower calorie meal.
3) Add in vegetables whenever possible! Always keep chopped fresh and/or frozen veggies in the fridge and include it in your family’s favorite soup, stew, or sauces. Remember: Corn, peas, and root vegetables such as potatoes and yucca are considered starchy vegetables, higher in calories than other vegetables. Use them sparingly when cooking.
Below is an example of a wildly successful recipe makeover prepared in Race Around Roxbury, a nutrition and exercise program at WSHC that aims to lower childhood obesity.
Creamy Mashed Cauliflower
Adapted from EatingWell.com
8 cups bite-size cauliflower florets (about 1 head)
2 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
1/3 cup nonfat buttermilk
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Snipped fresh chives for garnish
Optional: LF chicken gravy or parmesan cheese
- Place cauliflower florets and garlic in a steamer basket over boiling water, cover and steam until very tender, 12 to 15 minutes. (Alternatively, place florets and garlic in a microwave-safe bowl with 1/4 cup water, cover and microwave on High for 3 to 5 minutes.)
- Place the cooked cauliflower and garlic in a food processor. Add buttermilk, 2 teaspoons oil, butter, salt and pepper; pulse several times, then process until smooth and creamy. Transfer to a serving bowl.
- Drizzle with the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and garnish with chives, if desired. Serve hot with low fat chicken gravy or sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
Serving Size: ¾ cup