Fall is the time for mixed dishes—salads, casseroles, stir fries, soups, and stew—in which everything is tossed together. This is how to make mixed dishes healthy and delicious.
First, make sure to include at least three different food groups from MyPlate, myplate.gov/.
Then add color. Brightly colored fruits and vegetables add visual appeal as well as favor and texture to casseroles and stews. Add sautéed vegetables to your grilled cheese sandwich. Toss in dried berries and roasted vegetables to your salad. Or sauté your favorite vegetables (such as bell peppers, mushrooms, or onions), add eggs, and bake.
Mix it up. Look for recipes in which half the ingredients are nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, or beans. Use whole-grain pastas. Have meat play a supporting role.
Change up your protein. Try different types of ground meats in meat loaf and in pasta sauce. Add seafood (like shrimp, tuna, or salmon) to a stir-fry or pasta dish. Mix up your chili with beans and vegetables in place of ground meat.
In the fall, we crave warm, hearty foods like cheesy casseroles and hearty soups. Often, though, these “comfort foods” are high in fat, sodium, and calories.
The next time you make your favorite “comfort foods,” try these tips to make them healthier and even more enjoyable:
Add extra vegetables of all types—dark green; red and orange; beans, peas, and lentils; starchy; and other vegetables—without added sauces, fats, or salt. Double the vegetables in a soup or casserole recipe to add extra vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Switch up your grains, making at least half of your grains whole grain. Like rice? Try replacing white rice with brown rice in your recipe. This month’s recipe uses brown rice.
Choose reduced-fat dairy foods, including fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese, in casseroles and cream soups. Reduced-fat cheeses, for example, have less fat but just as much favor and melt just like full-fat cheese.
Use lean protein foods, including lean meats, poultry, and eggs; seafood; beans, peas, and lentils; and nuts, seeds, and soy products. Cooking on a budget? Canned meats are just as nutritious, cheaper, and easier to use in casseroles.