BALANCE: IT’S MORE THAN THE LATEST TREND

Our nutritionist helps you fill your plate with the good stuff!

Gina Ruskie, RD

By now you’re probably familiar with the USDA’s MyPlate icon. If you look closely you’ll see that half of the plate is vegetables and fruit. But, if you’re like most Americans, chances are your plate doesn’t quite resemble the icon. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 32.5% of adults consumed fruit 2 or more times per day, while 26.3% consumed vegetables 3 or more times per day. So if you’re falling short of these goals, you’ve got plenty of company.

Whether fresh, frozen or canned — vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals that keep us healthy and help keep disease at bay. Avoiding or delaying the onset of heart disease, stroke or diabetes as well as obesity with just a couple of daily servings of vegetables and fruit makes perfect sense. To get the most of what you need, go for color:
  • Dark Green: Spinach and broccoli are rich in vitamins, potassium and folate to help protect you from diabetes and maybe even cancer.
  • Red and Orange: Tomatoes, carrots or red peppers are packed with Vitamin A (beta carotene) that’s beneficial for healthy eyes, lungs and skin.
Adding these to your diet is easier than you might think. Here are our top recommendations:
  • Grab and go. Wash and chop veggies like cucumbers, green peppers, broccoli and carrots as soon as you get home from the grocery store. This way they will be ready to go in individual containers for snacking, lunches or added to dishes while cooking.
  • Try something new. Experiment with new recipes like spaghetti squash instead of pasta with a favorite tomato sauce. Or swap lettuce for a tortilla and wrap up your favorite lean protein and veggies.
  • Switch it up in salads. Make a salad of kale or spinach instead of iceberg lettuce. Top greens with fresh fruit like sliced pears or strawberries. Not only does this add a flash of color and flavor, it’s a great way to boost dietary Vitamin C and fiber. For additional crunch, toss in walnuts or slivered almonds.
Take A Dip

If you’re more than a little bored with broccoli, there are many ways to make veggies more attractive. Here are just a few ideas:
  • A light hummus or tzatziki — made with yogurt or low-fat sour cream — is ideal for dipping raw veggies
  • Light Italian or Ranch Salad Dressing makes a smart, fast and inexpensive dip for lunches or snacks
  • Herbs and spices amp up the flavor without adding calories or fat — experiment with different options like dill, rosemary or garlic
  • Moderation and portion size matters! Helpful dip tip: scoop about 2 Tbsp on your plate to avoid eating extra calories
Try one of these mouthwatering dip recipes: Creamy Spinach & Hearts of Palm Dip or Dijonnaise Vegetable Dip.
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