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Spinach Artichoke & White Beans with Whole Grain Penne Pasta Dish

National Nutrition Month

The month of March is a great time to focus on developing healthy eating habits.

Gina Ruskie-Askew, RDN

Start Simple with MyPlate

Every year, March is recognized as National Nutrition Month sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Although the campaign is just for one month, it is a great reminder of how we all can develop and maintain healthful eating habits throughout the year. We have selected some tips to help you consume a variety of options from recommended food groups, aligning to the latest 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Eat A Variety of Food from all Food Groups Banner with the National Nutrition Month Personalize Your Plate Logo.

Make Half your Plate Fruits and Vegetables

Focusing on vegetables, did you know that about 90% of Americans do not consume the recommended daily amount of vegetables, which is about 2.5 cups per day for the average adult1? The good news is all formats and types count, whether fresh, canned, frozen or dried/dehydrated! Vegetables in each of the different sub-groups provide different sources of essential nutrients, such as potassium, dietary fiber, folate, vitamin A and Vitamin C, so it is best to switch it up daily. These subgroups include dark green; red and orange; beans, peas and lentils; starchy; and other vegetables.

Wok pan with variety of colorful vegetables being stirred

Tips to Increase Vegetable Intake:

  • Sweet potatoes & butternut squash can be blended into cheesy dishes to decrease the amount of cheese.
  • Cauliflower can be riced, pureed, or made into a pizza crust.
  • Zucchini or carrots can be made into ribbons using a vegetable peeler like in this Chicken Primavera Alfredo Pasta.
  • When used in a blended burger, replacing ½ the ground meat with mushrooms can help enhance flavor, while reducing calories, saturated fat and sodium.
  • Add Broccoli, peppers & onions to omelets or quiches.
  • Spinach and kale work in casseroles & grain salads such as this Quinoa and Kale Salad with Fresh Herbs.

Make Half Your Grains Whole Grains

Most Americans consume enough total grains, but unfortunately 98% fall below the recommendations for whole grains and 74% exceed limits for refined grains1. Rest assured even if you follow a gluten-free diet, there is no reason to avoid grains completely as plenty of whole grains are gluten-free, including quinoa, amaranth, wild rice, sorghum, teff, millet, corn and buckwheat. If looking to learn more about additional grains, Oldways Whole Grain Council is a great resource to check out!

Small white bowls with a variety of grains including quinoa, wild rice, farro, amaranth, etc

Tips to Increase Whole Grain Intake:

  • Substitute white rice with quinoa, sorghum, brown rice in stuffed peppers or a stir-fry.
  • Mix in a high fiber whole grain cereal into your yogurt for some crunch.
  • Include a whole grain pasta in your next pasta dish such as this Spinach, Artichoke & White Beans with Penne Pasta
  • Add grains such as farro to your next bowl such as this Jewel Vegetable Bowl.
  • Popped sorghum can be a great option for a snack, similar to air-popped popcorn.
  • Oatmeal can be a great breakfast option with your choice of berries and nuts or seeds.

For more personalized resources to include each of the food groups in your diet, visit USDA’s MyPlate.

Unilever is proud to be a USDA National Strategic Partner.


References:
1. U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th Edition. December 2020. Available at DietaryGuidelines.gov
2. U.S. Department of Agriculture. ChooseMyPlate.gov Website. Washington, DC. Accessed February 16, 2021.

Unilever is proud to be a USDA National Strategic Partner.