March is National Nutrition Month and this year the Idaho Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages everyone to “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day.” When it comes to eating healthy there is no one-size fits all. The United States is becoming increasingly diverse and so is our food supply. By 2050, half of the U.S. population will be non-white. There are countless varieties of foods available today that meet multicultural and diversity needs. Our foods can accommodate cultural, ethnic, traditional and personal preferences.
Follow the MyPlate guidelines by making half of your plate fruits and vegetable; about one-quarter protein, such as lean meats,, black beans and tofu chunks; and about one-quarter grains preferable whole grain, you can have a healthful diet that is right for your cultural needs. Adding a dairy source 2-3 times a day makes for the perfectly balanced diet.
Some healthful menus items from ethnic traditions that follow MyPlate recommendations include:
Chinese: Stir-fried chicken and vegetables such as bok choy, snap peas, carrots and bean sprouts; brown rice; and a dish of lychee fruit.
Italian: Minestrone (a hearty, tomato-based soup with beans, vegetables, and pasta), gnocchi (flour or potato dumplings), with chopped vegetables like spinach mixed into the dough and served with lycopene-rich tomato sauce.
Greek: Tzatziki sauce (a creamy dressing of low-fat yogurt, garlic and cucumber) served on a pita sandwich or as a dip with vegetables; and dolmas (grape leaves stuffed with ground meat, vegetables such as bell peppers, eggplant and squash, rice dried fruit and pine nuts)
Mexican: Jicama (a crisp and slightly sweet root vegetable) peeled, sliced and served on a salad with lime vinaigrette or chopped for a crunchy addition to salsas; and gazpacho (a cold tomato-based raw vegetable soup) made with spinach or cucumbers.
Additional menu ideas for ethnic foods that meet the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines and MyPlate include:
- Fruit chutney (Asian Indian)
- Grilled pineapple as a part of a chicken shish kabob (Middle Eastern)
- Mango or other tropical fruit smoothie (Latin American)
- Baked pumpkin sprinkled with cinnamon (African)
- Polish beets (European)
- Stir-fried greens (Asian)
- Cactus salad (Latin American)
- Succotash (Native American or Southern US)
- Couscous (African)
- Quinoa (Latin American)
- Naan bread (Asian Indian)
- Egg noodles (German)
Whatever your lifestyle, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages you to set yourself up for success by working with a registered dietician to develop a personalized eating plan that fits your unique nutritional needs and cultural tastes.