Chow Line: Great nutrition ideas ripe for the picking

chow_022715_157696894I need some fresh ideas to give my diet a boost. I eat fairly well now, but I feel like I’m in a rut and want some easy ways to make some changes while keeping health and nutrition front and center. Your thoughts?

You picked a good time to focus on a healthy diet with National Nutrition Month just around the corner in March.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) has sponsored the annual event since 1973, when it started as National Nutrition Week. The group has a website devoted to the month, nationalnutritionmonth.org, which is chock-full of handouts and tip sheets with just the kind of information you’re looking for. Look under “Promotional Resources” on the website for access.

The great ideas from this group of registered dietitians include tips such as:

  • Want some crunch? Don’t reach for chips — try crunchy vegetables instead. Use low-fat dressing as a dip.
  • Dress up seafood or poultry with a fruit puree. Just blend apples, berries, peaches or pears for a thick, sweet sauce.
  • Thirsty? Choose water first, and drink plenty of it, especially if you’re active or if you’re an older adult.
  • Reducing sodium doesn’t have to be bland. Create your own salt-free seasoning blend. The group’s “Eating Right with Less Salt” tip sheet offers recipes for a mixed herb blend, an Italian blend and a Mexican blend.
  • Are your portion sizes reasonable? If you haven’t measured foods in awhile, it could be a good exercise to get out the kitchen scale and measuring spoons and cups to evaluate how close your normal portions compare with recommended serving sizes. (It also wouldn’t hurt to review recommended serving sizes for different foods at choosemyplate.gov.)
  • Not getting enough vegetables? Try heating a cup of vegetable soup as a snack or as part of lunch or dinner.
  • Add some variety to healthy snacks by combining options from different food groups: top a banana with frozen yogurt and a few nuts, or spread a tablespoon of peanut butter on apple slices.
  • When you’re doing your food shopping, make it a point to buy one fruit, vegetable or whole grain you’ve never tried before. You never know what might become a new favorite.
  • If you’re not doing so already, and if you’re able to, eat fish or shellfish twice a week. Types that are higher in healthy omega-3 fatty acids and lower in mercury include salmon, trout, oysters and sardines.

The National Nutrition Month website also offers plenty of other resources, including healthy eating quizzes and games for kids and adults, and information on services offered by registered dietitians. Check it out. You’re bound to come away with plenty of new ideas to chew on.

Chow Line is a service of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University and its outreach and research arms, Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Martha Filipic, 2021 Coffey Road, Columbus, OH 43210-1043, or filipic.3@osu.edu.

Use Nutrition Month to get back on track

162322018I know National Nutrition Month is coming up in March, and I want to use the occasion to jump-start my resolution to eat better this year. But I’ve done this kind of thing before and I’m out of new ideas. Where can I find some good ones?

This is a great plan. It’s not unusual for New Year’s resolutions to wane by now. But using National Nutrition Month to revive your resolve is a shrewd move: There will likely be an abundance of nutrition-related information out there for the taking, and you’re bound to find new ways to get back on track.

You can take the bull by the horns and search out ideas yourself. A great place to start is the website of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association). As the sponsor of National Nutrition Month, the organization offers a dozen two-page tipsheets on a variety of topics athttp://www.eatright.org/nnm/handoutsandtipsheets/.

Here are just a few pointers from some of the tipsheets:

  • To reach a goal of eating 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables each day, try adding sliced pineapple, apple, peppers, cucumber and tomato to your sandwiches. (Find more ideas in the tipsheet “20 Ways to Enjoy More Fruits and Vegetables.”)
  • For a kid-friendly healthy snack, peel a banana, dip it in yogurt, roll it in crushed cereal and freeze it. (More in “25 Healthy Snacks for Kids.”)
  • Add some variety to your salad by adding corn, peas, sugar snap peas, water chesnuts or a variety of other vegetables. (More in “Color Your Plate with Salad.”)
  • Trying to lose weight? Slow down: It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to get the signal that your body is getting food. Don’t wait until you feel full before you stop eating. (More in “Eating Right for a Healthy Weight.”)
  • On days when you’re planning a dinner out, plan ahead. Have a light breakfast and lunch. (More in “Healthy Eating on the Run: A Month of Tips.”)
  • If you’re tired of the same old breakfast options, make your own morning sandwich with a toasted whole-grain English muffin with lean ham and low-fat Swiss cheese. (More in “Power Up with Breakfast.”)
  • Give Nutrition Facts labels a fresh eye. Look at the “% Daily Value” column. Aim high (20 percent or more) in vitamins, minerals and fiber, and aim low (5 percent or less) for total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. (More in “Shop Smart — Get the Facts on Food Labels.”)

My advice? Download all 12 tipsheets and use them for inspiration throughout the month.