fresh fruits and vegetables

Celebrate National Nutrition Month: Personalize your plate

By Sabrina Chen, CHOC dietetic technician, registered

MyPlate has been widely used to give a visual representation of how much we should eat of each food group. It’s important to jazz up our diets and personalize our plates to our lifestyles, personal tastes and goals. Each year, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics celebrates National Nutrition Month. This year’s focus is on personalizing your plate. Take this month as a time to reflect on your personal goals to reach a healthy lifestyle.

Food is a wonderful way to bring people together and showcase different foods of various backgrounds and cultures. Don’t be afraid to try different cuisines you are unfamiliar with — you never know what your new favorite meal might be! You can also experiment with different ways of cooking to switch up the flavor or even save time.

Implementing healthy nutrition habits doesn’t have to be boring or repetitive. Try incorporating a new vegetable every week or switching up your protein from animal sources to non-animal sources such as tofu or lentils. Plan your meals ahead of time with a variety of nutritious foods every day.

Here are a few ideas that might help you personalize your plate and incorporate new-to-you foods:

  • Whole grains: Chapatti, tortillas, buckwheat noodles, wild rice
  • Vegetables: Bok choy, napa cabbage, okra, daikon radish
  • Fruits: Kumquats, papaya, Korean pears, dates
  • Dairy: Fortified soy milk, low fat cottage cheese, fresh cheeses
  • Proteins: Fish, adzuki beans, tofu, lentils
  • Healthy fats: sesame seeds, macadamia nuts, walnuts and avocado oils.

“There is no one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition and health” as said by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The recommended serving size of each food group can vary depending on various factors like age, gender and activity level. What works for other people, may not work for you. You can receive personal nutrition advice from a registered dietitian or dietetic technician, who can also provide tips on following a healthy diet.

To help get you started on diversifying the food on your plate, here is a delicious recipe for Japanese-inspired sesame soba noodles.

Japanese-inspired sesame soba noodles

Ingredients

Sesame dressing

  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons tamari, more for serving
  • ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • ½ teaspoon honey

Soba noodles

  • 6 ounces soba noodles
  • Sesame oil, for drizzling
  • 2 avocados, sliced
  • Squeezes of lemon
  • 2 cups blanched snap peas
  • ¼ cup edamame
  • 1 watermelon radish or 2 red radishes, very thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
  • Sesame seeds

Instructions

  1. Make the dressing: In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, tamari, sesame oil, ginger, garlic and honey. Set aside.
  2. Bring an unsalted pot of water to a boil and cook the soba noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse well in cold water. This helps to remove starches that cause clumping. Toss the noodles with the dressing and divide into two to four bowls. Squeeze fresh lemon juice onto the avocado slices and add to the bowls along with the snap peas, edamame, radish, mint, and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Drizzle with more tamari or sesame oil, if desired.

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