What’s for dinner is a common question asked on a daily basis all across the country. In my household, the response after answering this question ranges from “hooray” to “boo,” and anything in between. For the family meal planners, solving what’s for dinner can become challenging and boring all at the same time. The last time that you answered this question, what was your answer? It may have been something like “chicken, “burgers,” or even, “pizza.”
The interesting thing about “what’s for dinner” is that the answer typically names a protein such as meat. It’s what’s for dinner. Everything else is a side dish meant to match up and balance out the meal.
The USDA MyPlate recommendations serve as a guide as to how a plate should look when making healthful meal choices. Research shows that a when a person regularly makes healthful lifestyle choices, including consuming a diet with many fruits and vegetables, the chance of developing chronic conditions like obesity, heart disease, and type two diabetes is reduced.
Make Half Your Plate Fruits or Vegetables
A great place to start making healthful food choices is the next time you fill up your plate. When portioning out your plate, be mindful that only one-fourth of the foods on the plate should be made up of protein. Half of your plate should be made up of fruits and/or vegetables. You don’t care for salad? You are not a rabbit and you don’t plan on eating like one? That’s ok. You can still make meals that focus on fruits and vegetables you and your family will enjoy eating.
Where to Start
Start by selecting in season produce at the grocery store, or even better, grow your own. The abundance of in season fruits and vegetables drives the price down. This makes trying a new food delicious and affordable. Build on something that you already like. Try a recipe that combines a new food with one that you are less familiar with. Don’t give up if you or someone that you cook for does not like a new food the first time. It can take up to ten or twelve tries before a new food is fully accepted!
As the weather turns warmer, turn to your grill. Grilled asparagus or peppers is a great place to start. If grilling is not your thing, most vegetables are fantastic after tossing in a small amount of olive oil and roasting in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, until slightly browned.
Make MyPlate Your Plate
I challenge you to change your thinking. Meat is only a small part of what’s for dinner. With that in mind, I challenge you to change your answer. “What’s for dinner,” your family asks? The next time, let your answer start with a delicious food like sweet peppers roasted on a hot grill, oven roasted vegetable medley, or a fresh green salad loaded with your favorite seasonal vegetables. Not only are those foods delicious and healthful, it’s what’s for dinner.
About the Author:
My name is Laura Brubaker and I am studying Food and Nutrition at Bowling Green State University pursuing a master degree in Food and Nutrition and completing my dietetic internship.
Originally from Napoleon, OH, I moved to Bowling Green in 2002 with my husband and three children. Since that time, we added our one and only Wood County born child to the family, for a total of four rambunctious children actively involved in organizations throughout the community.
I have a long history in food service and clinical dietetics working as a Registered Dietetic Technician for Trilogy Health Services. In that position, I have provided nutritional services at Briar Hill Health Campus in North Baltimore, OH.
My greatest joy is serving the community by promoting wellness and healthful lifestyle choices for all age groups. I most enjoy spending time with my family, especially biking or roller blading the entire length of the Slippery Elm Trail on beautiful summer evenings. I am looking forward to becoming a registered dietitian by the end of 2017 and pursuing a career in clinical dietetics.
Editor’s Note: Laura Brubaker wrote this nutrition column as an assignment, while interning at Ohio State University Extension in Wood County.