Put your best fork forward during National Nutrition Month 2017

Published Feb 26, 2017 at 9:00am

This is the theme for National Nutrition Month 2017. It is a reminder that everyone holds the tool to make healthier food choices.

The choices we make now and tomorrow will inspire our health now and in the future. 

National Nutrition Month is a nutrition education and information campaign created annually in March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. National Nutrition Month promotes the Academy and its members to the public and the media as the most valuable and credible source of timely, scientifically-based food and nutrition information. 

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics want everyone to enjoy eating, cooking, planning and shopping for food and to remain physically healthy for life. In order to do this they produced 17 tips for a health in 2017. 

Eat breakfast

Start your morning with a healthy breakfast that includes lean protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. It is the most important meal of the day. 

Make half your plate fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables add color, flavor and texture plus vitamins, minerals and fiber to your plate. Experiment with different types, including fresh, frozen and canned. 

Watch portion sizes

Get out the measuring cups and see how close your portions are to the recommended serving. 

Be active

Regular physical activity has so many health benefits. Start by doing what exercise you can for at least 10 minutes at a time. 

Fix healthy snacks

Healthy snacks and sustain your energy levels between meals, especially when they include a combination of foods. Choose from two or more of the My Plate food groups: grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, and protein. Try raw veggies and fruits with low-fat cottage cheese or yogurt, or a tablespoon of peanut butter with an apple or banana. 

Get to know food labels

Reading the Nutrition Facts panel can help you shop and eat or drink smarter. 

Consult an RDN

Whether you want to eat better to lose weight or lower your risk or manage a chronic disease, consult the experts! Registered dietitian nutritionists can help. 

Follow food safety guidelines

Reduce your chances of getting sick by practicing proper food safety. That includes: regular hand washing, separating raw protein foods from ready-to-eat foods, cooking foods to the appropriate temperature by using a food thermometer, and refrigerating food quickly at a proper temperature to slow bacteria growth. 

Get cooking

Preparing foods at home can be healthy, rewarding and cost-effective. Do not waste food. 

Dine out without ditching your goals

You can eat out and stick to your healthy eating plan! Key is to plan ahead, ask questions and choose foods carefully. 

Enact family meal time

Plan to eat as a family at least a few times each week. Set a regular meal time. 

Banish Brown Bag Boredom

Whether it’s a lunch for work or school, prevent brown bag boredom with easy-to-fix, healthy lunch ideas. Try a whole-wheat pitta pocket with veggies and hummus or a vegetable soup with whole grain crackers or a salad of mixed greens with low-fat dressing and a hardboiled egg. 

Drink more water

Quench your thirst by drinking water instead of sugary drinks. Stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water if you are active, live or work in hot conditions and if you are an older adult. 

Explore new foods and flavors

Add more nutrition and eating pleasure by expanding your range of food choices. When shopping, make a point of selecting fruit, vegetables and grains that are new to you. 

Try to eat seafood

Seafood — fish and shellfish — contains a range of nutrients including healthy omega-3 fats. Salmon, trout, oysters, and sardines are higher in omega-3s and lower in mercury.

Cut back on added sugars

Foods and drinks with added sugars can contribute empty calories and little or no nutrition. Reviewing ingredients on the food label can help you identify sources of added salt and sugar.

Experiment with more plant-based meals

Expand the variety in your menu with budget friendly meatless meals. Many recipes that use meat and poultry can be made without. Eating a variety of plant foods can help. Vegetables, beans, and lentils are all great substitutes. Try including one meatless meal per week to start out. 

Everyone holds the tools (forks) to stay healthy. It is your decision what to eat and how much to eat. Eat healthy not guilty. Don’t let food become your enemy rather enjoy your food wisely. Begin with trying this simple recipe below. 

Turkey, Vegetable & Oat Mini-Meatloaves with Marinara Sauce:

1 (8oz) package baby Bella mushrooms 

1 small yellow onion, cut into eighths 

4 cloves garlic (or 2 teaspoons minced)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 

1 cup dry rolled oats

2 large eggs

1 pound lean ground turkey or beef

1 3/4 cups pasta sauce

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar 

1 tablespoon Italian herb seasoning 

1/2 teaspoon salt 

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat a 9x13 inch baking pan with cooking spray. Pulse mushrooms in a food processor until finely chopped and add them to a large bowl. Repeat with onion and garlic. 

Place a large frying pan over medium heat and add oil. When oil is shimmering, add vegetables and sauté for 7 minutes or until water releases and evaporates completely, lowering heat as necessary. Set aside. 

Process the oats until they are of a fine consistency. Whisk the eggs in the bowl used for the vegetables. Add processed oats, turkey, 3/4 cup of pasta sauce, cooked vegetables, vinegar, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper and stir together with a fork until blended. 

Scoop the mixture into a loaf pan. Spread remaining pasta sauce on top of the loaf. Bake on middle rack for 25 minutes, turning pan midway through cooking, until loaf measures 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Let sit for at least 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!