by Emily Gill, BGSU Dietetics Intern
If you’re anything like me, then you know what it’s like to experience what I call the “winter blues.” During winter, the sun isn’t out for as long and, as a result, days are often cold and gloomy. I notice that this dreariness often affects my mood and motivation to exercise and eat properly. Luckily, with warmer weather and more daylight, this feeling fades. To celebrate spring and more sunshine, I’m going to give you some tips on how to “spring” into healthy eating.
What is MyPlate? MyPlate is the current nutrition guide created and published by the USDA. You might remember the Food Pyramid which was the old nutrition guide. MyPlate has made following nutrition guidelines much easier through the use of a plate model with the five different food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy, as shown below. It is recommended that you get at least 3-4 of these food groups at each meal.
As you can see, fruits and vegetables should take up half of your plate. If you find yourself struggling to get enough fruits and veggies on your plate, try following some of these tips:
- Visit your local farmers market and buy fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season. They will taste the best they can, and you’ll likely get excited to try them!
- Buy easy to prepare vegetables so that they don’t rot away in your refrigerator!
- Vary what vegetables you buy so you don’t get bored and are getting a variety of nutrients.
- Plan some of your weekly meals around vegetables so you know you’ll get your veggies! For example, if you were going to make a big, delicious Caesar salad, you could then plan to have some spaghetti with it!
- When grilling, grill your vegetables alongside your main dish by putting them on wooden skewers.
- Add vegetables into a main dish. By doing so, you’ll make the vegetables more appealing and add more flavor to the dish!
- Make fruit a part of your dessert. It’s grilling season so some examples that you could make on the grill include banana boats, grilled pineapple, grilled nectarines with ricotta, grilled peaches with mascarpone cheese…the possibilities are endless!
Buying produce lowers cost for you and ensures that the produce you are buying is at its peak flavor. Eating produce in season is also more environmentally friendly; fruits and vegetables that are in season are likely grown much closer to you than out of season produce. Buying seasonal produce is as easy as knowing what exactly is in season. In addition, you could simply go to your local farmers’ market which will have in season produce. Here is a list of fruits and vegetables that are in season for spring (March, April, May) that are typically grown in Ohio according to the Ohio Farm Bureau.
- Collard Greens
- Mustard Greens
- Turnip Greens
Here is a list of fruits and vegetables that are in season in general for spring (March, April, May) according to the USDA SNAP-Ed Connection Seasonal Produce Guide:
Get Out and Grill!
Grilling is a healthy way to cook foods. As you grill, fat drips away from your meat resulting in a leaner, less fatty product. In addition, grilling vegetables brings out their natural sweetness and allows them to retain more nutrients than other methods of cooking.
You may have heard about carcinogens linked to grilling foods. Although there is some truth to that, it only applies when charring is involved. Some studies have found that there is a link between charred meats and increased cancer risk. There are several ways to prevent intake of these carcinogens including the following: remove any visible fat from meat before cooking, use leaner meats, cook meat partially in the microwave before grilling, do not place charcoal directly below meat, cut off charred bits of meat from a finished product, and turn foods often.
Overall, the benefits of grilling vastly outweigh the risks as long as you grill properly. In addition to the nutritional benefits of grilling, grilling can also be a way to get you and your family outside. Pair grilling with outdoor activities to encourage exercise and family bonding!
Whether it’s using MyPlate, buying seasonal produce, or adding grilling to your routine, I hope you spring into healthy eating this season! To get you started, I’ve included two recipes, one for dinner and one for dessert, both with in season produce!
Foil Pack Grilled Salmon with Lemony Asparagus*
*Recipe from delish.com
This recipe is for a grilled salmon and lemony asparagus foil pack for a quick, easy, and nutritious dinner. Just pair with brown rice for a complete meal.
20 asparagus spears, trimmed
4- 6-oz skin-on salmon fillets
4 Tbsp. butter, divided
2 lemons, sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
Torn fresh dill, for garnishing
- Lay two pieces of foil on a flat surface. Place five spears of asparagus on foil and top with a fillet of salmon, 1 tablespoon butter, and two slices of lemon. Loosely wrap, then repeat with remaining ingredients until you have four packets total.
- Heat grill on high. Add foil packets to grill and grill until salmon is cooked through and asparagus is tender, about 10 minutes.
- Garnish with dill and serve immediately.
Honey Glazed Grilled Pineapple*
*Recipe from foodnetwork.com
¼ cup honey
Juice of 2 limes (more or less depending on how juicy the limes are)
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ pineapple, cut into ¾-inch thick rings, core removed
¾ cup vanilla ice cream
- In a baking dish, mix together the honey, lime juice, and cinnamon. Place the pineapple slices in the glaze and let marinate 2 hours, turning occasionally.
- Preheat a grill pan over medium heat.
- Place the pineapple slices on the preheated grill. Grill on both sides until the glaze caramelizes and grill marks form, about 2 minutes per side.
- To serve: Place the pineapple slices on individual plates and top with a scoop of ice cream. Drizzle the remaining honey syrup over top.
My name is Emily Gill and I’m originally from the Dayton area. I moved to Bowling Green in 2013 to study for my Bachelor of Science degree in Dietetics which I received at the completion of spring semester 2017. I am currently continuing my education in a combined Masters in Food and Nutrition and dietetic internship program with hopes to become a Registered Dietitian. Sharing my nutrition knowledge with others is my passion and I hope to inspire others to take charge of their health. In my free time you can find me trying new recipes, exploring outdoors, or reading a good book.