Choose MyPlate to Learn Your Nutritional Needs

In doing research for an upcoming seminar, I ended up at the USDA’s choosemyplate.gov, which I discuss and recommend in several of my Lunch ‘n Learns.  I was surprised to discover that the MyPlate website offers up so much more information than just what to put on your plate.  In fact, you can use the site to, among other things, look up nutritional information for over 8,000 foods; create a weekly meal plan based on your specific activity level and nutritional needs; and find all sorts of tips on topics like healthy eating on a budget, adding more fruits and veggies to your meals, choosing whole grain foods, food safety, and kids’ nutrition. 

I used MyPlate to figure out how many servings of each food group adults need to eat every day.  All the food you eat in a day should add up to:

2 cups fruit                             

2-3 cups vegetables               

6 ounces/servings grains (and at least 3 servings of whole grains)

5-6 ½ ounces lean protein                             

3 cups low-fat or fat-free dairy                                 

6 teaspoons oil (choose oils that contain heart healthy unsaturated fats, like olive oil)     
I also used MyPlate to come up with ideas for meals and snacks that can satisfy the above requirements.          Here are a few examples:

 

Breakfast

½ cup old-fashioned oats cooked with:
1 tbsp raisins
1 tbsp walnuts
½ cup 1% milk
½ cup water
1 glass orange juice

1 flour tortilla with:
1 scrambled egg
1 oz. shredded cheese
2 tbsp salsa
cup black beans
1 medium banana

Lunch

Turkey sandwich:
2 slices whole wheat bread
3 oz. low-sodium turkey breast
2 slices lettuce and tomato
1 tsp mustard
1 slice cheese
1 medium apple

White bean-vegetable soup:
1¼ cup chunky vegetable soup
½  cup white beans
1 whole wheat roll
8 baby carrots
1 medium banana
1 cup 1% milk

Dinner

3 oz. roasted boneless skinless chicken breast
1 large baked sweet potato
½  cup peas and onions
1 whole wheat dinner roll
1 cup leafy greens salad
3 tsp sunflower oil and vinegar dressing
½ cup unsweetened applesauce

Vegetable stir-fry:
4 ounces tofu (firm)
¼ cup green and red bell peppers
½  cup bok choy
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup brown rice
1 medium orange

Snacks

1 medium apple
1 tbsp peanut butter

2 cups air-popped popcorn
1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

1 cup sliced veggies
2 tbsp hummus

1 string cheese
½ cup cantaloupe

1 low-fat fruit on the bottom Greek yogurt
1 tsp slivered almonds
I could have spent all day playing around on MyPlate, and I hope to explore it in even more detail sometime soon.  If you are stuck for meal or snack ideas, or just want to learn a little more about your nutritional needs, I encourage you to visit the MyPlate website.  It provides a trusted source of nutrition information and is really an eye-opening learning experience.

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