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How to Create a Balanced Plate

How to Create a Balanced Plate

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It’s time to shape up! The USDA has replaced the Food Pyramid with a new nutrition guide called MyPlate, which restructures the recommended amounts of different food groups. Whether this is news to you or you’ve already incorporated the new guidelines into your meal planning, we’ve put together a quick rundown and some easy ways to achieve the right ratio. Establishing new eating habits (and breaking the bad ones) is a daily effort, so Corelle® has a fun and handy cheat sheet of sorts. Simply use the CORELLE LIVINGWARE WINTER FROST WHITE DIVIDED PLATE to separate your foods into their appropriate groups. Many kids are already familiar with (and insist on) this concept, but big people can feel free to divide and conquer, too!

FRUITS AND VEGGIES

It doesn’t matter how you like them—fresh, frozen, canned, juiced or dried—but half your plate should be made up of fruits and veggies. We know it seems like a lot, so here are tips on how to make maxing out the produce side a snap.

SIDE WITH SALAD:

One of the easiest ways to ensure you’re getting a healthy dose of veggies is to add a side salad to every dinner. Check out these crunchy choices from Amanda at Run to the Finish.

BLEND IN:

Smoothies are another great idea for packing in the fruits and veggies—and you can creatively blend combinations that you wouldn’t necessarily eat together in their whole state. Sip them for breakfast, lunch or snacks, or even enjoy them as dessert after dinner. Need help coming up with fresh new ideas? Head over to Slender Kitchen and give Kristin’s recipes a whirl.

GET CUTE WITH YOUR FRUIT:

Kids can be fussy about this particular food group, but we’ve found a way to help get them into the spirit of healthy eating. Have fun building or shaping cool creations, and let them play with their food! Take a peek at this magic wand fruit kabob from Jenny at The NY Melrose Family or this adorable Kermit the Frog apple from Miranda at Disney Family.

GRAINS

Grains (think wheat, oat and rice, among others) are either whole, which includes the entire grain kernel, or refined, where the bran and germ are removed to provide a softer, smoother texture. Although refined grains can be enriched to add the B vitamins and iron that are stripped during the refining process, whole grains have more fiber, so make sure they make up at least half your grains, if not more.

PULL THE OLD SWITCHEROO:

An easy way to make sure you are getting more whole grains is to simply swap your regular pasta for whole-grain pasta and your white rice for brown rice. Muffins, pancakes, pizza dough and bread are also good places to incorporate more whole grains.

PROTEIN

Meat, poultry and seafood usually make up a big portion of most people’s protein intake, but vegetarians know that beans, lentils, peas, nuts and seeds are other convenient ways to get more protein (and other nutrients) into their diet. And don’t forget about eggs! We’ve already shelled out some fun ideas in Get Cracking: Fun New Ways to Cook with Eggs.

BUTTER UP:

Nut butters are healthful and versatile ways to get even more of those essential grams of protein. (Watch your portions, though, as they are higher in fat.) Buy or make your own using peanuts, almonds, cashews, pecans or hazelnuts, and spread any of these options on a sandwich, celery sticks or apple or pear slices. You can even add a dollop to your smoothie (score one more for smoothies!).

SPILL THE BEANS:

Recently elevated to superfood status, these little fellas are jam-packed with antioxidants. Kidney, navy, garbanzo, black, red or white, the low-fat, high-fiber bean is pretty much the perfect package. It doesn’t matter if you pick canned or dry, just get ’em on your plate! Toss into soup, salad or pasta, and mash or puree for a healthy dip. The Kitchn has 15 fantastic ideas for even more ways to eat them.

DAIRY

As excellent sources of protein, calcium and vitamin D, dairy-based foods are nutritious winners. Choose lower-fat options when possible, but be aware that vitamin D is fat-soluble, so fat-free dairy may not allow for maximum absorption of this essential vitamin. Milk, cheese and yogurt are the smarter ways to incorporate dairy—although undeniably tasty, ice cream, cream cheese and butter don’t offer the same benefits.

SMILE AND SAY CHEESE:

Toss cubes of provolone or Gouda into your favorite summer pasta salad, shave fresh Parmesan or sprinkle feta over romaine or spinach, or simply top whole-grain crackers with slices of Cheddar and Swiss for a super-easy snack.

BE A YO-IT-ALL:

Greek yogurt mixed with granola and fresh fruit combines three food groups with delicious ease. Or try whipping up a healthy dip or dressing with plain yogurt, olive oil or buttermilk and freshly chopped herbs. Maria from Two Peas and Their Pod mixes Greek yogurt with avocado and jalapeño for a healthy dip with a little kick. As you work to healthfully balance your meals, keep in mind that research has shown natural, whole foods are better all around, healthy fat is not an oxymoron and a little dessert makes us happy. And although shapes and recommendations have changed over the years, moderation has always been the key.

YOUR TURN: How do you get the right amounts of each food group into your diet?