MyPyramid Changes to MyPlate

Last week MyPyramid changed to MyPlate.

Dietitians and nutrition educators have been waiting for months for a new icon.  We knew there was going to be a change, but the details were kept top secret.  The new icon has a simple, but important message, we need foods from all five food groups at our meals AND half our plate should be fruits and vegetables.  Unlike the MyPyramid icon that tried to convey many specific messages, this new icon is just supposed to remind us about healthy eating.   Stay tuned as nutrition educators get innovative about how to use the new logo for breakfast and snacks as well as for meals.

There are lots of interesting programs on the ChooseMyPlate web site.  You can find interactive tools to analyze your diet and exercise, plan your diet, plan your child’s diet, and compare calories and nutrition between two foods.   Many of these activities will be rolled over to a new website planned to debut this fall.

New on the ChooseMyPlate site is a series called Ten Tips.  This consists of 14 different topics each with 10 tips/suggestions for changes you can make to be healthier.

Pointers by Peggy

Schools Back in Session

Here in Iowa, schools are back in session. For some families this means packing lunches, although the cost of school lunches is hard to beat, and packed lunches are not automatically healthier than school lunch.

I think the key to getting kids to eat what is in their lunchbag—rather than trading it or throwing it away—is involving them in choosing the food. I take my lunch to work almost every day and I’m sure that no one else could guess what I would like!

Consider letting your kids choose what they want from a list of healthy alternatives, and even take them with you to shop for it. Ideally, a lunch would include food from at least 3 food groups. Use MyPlate as a guide.

Here are some ideas to get you started…

  • Low fat dairy: nonfat or 1% milk; low-fat yogurt (even a smoothie or drinkable yogurt);
    low fat cheese; cottage cheese
  • Fruits: fresh fruit that travels well such as apple, grapes, orange, banana; fruit canned in juice; single-serve applesauce; cut-up fruits served with a fruit-flavored yogurt as a dip
  • Vegetables: baby carrots; colored pepper strips; broccoli or cauliflower; lettuce and tomatoes in a sandwich; V-8 or tomato juice; cherry tomatoes; zucchini slices (don’t forget to include a little ranch dressing as a dip)
  • Protein sources: turkey, lean ham or roast beef; peanut or other butter; nuts; tuna; hard-boiled egg;  bean soup or chili;  leftovers; mashed beans with salsa rolled in a flour tortilla; peanut butter and banana wedged between slices of cinnamon raisin bread or a pita
  • Grains: pretzels; popcorn; cereal; trail-mix with dried fruit chips
    Think whole grains! More nutrition and more fiber!—whole wheat pita bread; whole wheat bagel; whole wheat or corn tortilla; whole grain crackers

If a “treat” is a must and fruit just doesn’t cut it, consider something very small like a couple of
chocolate kisses or a cookie. It shouldn’t take much to satisfy the sweet tooth!

A few recipes from Spend Smart.Eat Smart. that are ideal for packed lunches are:
Wraps “Your Way”
Make-ahead Mexican Rollups
Popcorn Trail Mix
Fruit Kabobs with Yogurt Dip
Crispy Granola

Finally, don’t forget food safety when packing your lunch.

-pointers from Peggy

“Go-To” Meals and Quick Recipes

If your schedule is so hectic that a trip to drive-up seems like the only option, consider stocking your shelves with “Go-To” Meals. These are meals that satisfy hunger, take minimal effort and time, but maximize taste. Nutritional value is fulfilled when you plan for at least one food from each group in MyPlate. Only a few ingredients are required, so preparation and clean-up is a snap. Plus, they save money on your food bill!

Here are a few ideas to get you thinking…

  • Peanut butter and jelly is an old favorite that’s even better when served on toasted whole wheat bread. Add baby carrots, apple slices and milk.
  • Pita pocket sandwiches are stuffed with veggies and healthy lunch meat. Its shape is perfect for eating on-the-go. For some variety, try a whole grain bagel sandwich.
  • Scrambled eggs or omelets with added onions, peppers, leftover vegetables and cheese need only fruit and toast to make a meal.
  • Beans and brown rice cover two of your main energy sources. The protein in the beans fuels your muscles, while the complex carbs in the rice provide lasting energy. To save time, try a quick-cook variety of brown rice.
  • Soup and crackers will fill you up fast. Three Can Chili needs only milk, crackers and fruit to make a meal.
  • Oatmeal pancakes taste great, no matter what time it is. With a powdered mix, you can be flipping some hotcakes in a flash. Add some fruits to the pancakes—or on the side—and milk to drink. To save more time, make some ahead..
  • Chicken burritos are easier to make than you might think. Heat chicken, beans and vegetables, and wrap them in a tortilla. Sprinkle on low-fat cheese, and you’ve nearly hit all of the major food groups with one bite.

-pointers from Peggy

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