This year’s theme for National Nutrition Month® is about personalizing your plate. I encourage you to work on this all year long. Every five years the USDA publishes the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). The DGA are dietary guidelines based on the current body of evidence that associates food intake and behavior with disease and disease prevention.
What’s on Your Plate?
MyPlate is the consumer arm of the program that translates these dietary guidelines into consumer-friendly news you can use. Check it out. You’ll find lots of tools on the website that can help you shop for and plan budget-friendly healthy meals. One way to begin figuring out how to improve your diet, is to think about what you are eating now. Take this quiz to learn more about your own habits and goals.
An important part of adopting a healthy eating habits is ensuring you have some variety in your diet. Eating a variety of foods will provide you with a wide range of nutrients and fiber.
Commodity groups are realizing that by working together, they may have a greater impact to improve nutrition and the availability of food to the consumer. The Pork and Sorghum Check-offs, along with USA Pulses have teamed up to help bring attention to whole foods. Their program, Powerful Pairings, aims to help you bring nutrient dense meals to the table.
Have you heard of sorghum? Sorghum is a gluten-free grain similar to rice. It’s a good source of fiber and several vitamins and minerals. It can be eaten alone or combined into recipes like stews or soups. It can also be popped like popcorn!
Pulses are the edible seed of a legume plant. They include peas, lentils chickpeas (garbanzo) and beans. These fiber-rich sources of protein are also a good source of potassium, making them a heart-healthy choice. You can prepare them to be combined into meatless dishes, add them to soups, or they can be eaten as a side dish.
One of my favorite dishes with chick peas is Pasta Ceci. I also like to cook lentils in double batches, and then freeze them. This way they are ready to go when you want a quick meal. Try the Stuffed Lentil Zucchini Boats in DASH Diet for Two. Keep in mind, you don’t have to love all beans, find a couple of varieties you do like, and include them in your diet regularly!
Learn more about pulses here.
Pork: Go Lean
Pork is a versatile protein with several low fat options. For instance, a 3 oz. serving of pork tenderloin is very low in saturated fat and provides 22 grams of protein (pork has about 16% less fat and 27% less saturated fat as compared to 30 years ago). Look for the American Heart Association Heart Checkmark on the label (they contain less than 5 grams of fat, 2 grams or less of saturated fat and 480 milligrams or less of sodium per label serving). Both pork tenderloin and the pork sirloin roast meet this criteria. Also, if you have high blood pressure, control sodium by avoiding the pre-seasoned packages. Purchase the plain, fresh pork and season at home.
Pork’s mild flavor allows it to pair up with any cuisine. As you are balancing your plate, consider smaller portions of lean pork to accompany more vegetables, pulses and grains. When cooking pork, the recommended temperature is 145 degrees F. If you grew up eating chewy pork, be sure to not over cook it! The general rule for a tenderloin or roast is 20 minutes per pound at 350F. If you are cooking chops or cutlets, or stir-frying, the cooking time will be quick.
Learn more about pork here.
Try my Pork Satay Skewers with Peanut Sauce as an appetizer or as a small portion to accompany a meal.
Pork Satay with Peanut Sauce
- 1 pork tenderloin about 1 or 1.5 pounds
- 1 tsp olive or avocado oil
- 1/4 cup low sodium teriyaki sauce
- 1/2 tsp honey
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 clove garlic, minced or 1/4 tsp jarred, minced
- 1 tbsp peanut butter
- 1/4 cup peanut butter
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1-2 tbsp low sodium vegetable or chicken stock
- Cut the tenderloin in half, then cut it again lengthwise (like a butterfly).
- Place each piece, one a time, between parchment paper. Pound each piece to 1/4 inch thickness with a meat mallet.
- Cut the pork into 1-inch strips.
- Mix the marinade: Add the oil, teriyaki sauce and honey is a small bowl. Add the turmeric, cumin and garlic and blend. Add the peanut butter and mix until well combined.
- Pour the marinade into a zippered bag. Add the pork strips, close the bag, and mix well.
- Refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 24 hours.
- When the meat has marinated, soak about 16 8-inch wooden skewers in a glass of water.
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Skewer each pork strip, threading it back and forth. Place skewers onto a baking sheet.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, turning halfway through.
- While skewers bake, make the peanut sauce. Mix the peanut butter and soy sauce together until smooth. Add enough broth to thin the sauce to consistency of thick syrup.
- Serve the satay with the peanut sauce. Garnish with parsley if desired. Enjoy!