Put Your Best Fork Forward During March, National Nutrition Month



Do you make every bite count? Try the tips below to add more nutrition to your day.

■ Do you include a variety of vegetables on your plate?

  • Plan meals to include different vegetable groups throughout the week: dark green, red and orange, beans and legumes and starchy veggies. Stir chopped spinach into scrambled eggs or soup. Roast carrots for an easy side dish. Add black beans to a bagged salad for a quick meal.

■ Do you choose naturally sweet fruit for snacks and salads or include them in main dishes?

  • Top your morning toast or cereal with sliced or chopped fruit. Make your own flavored yogurt by mixing fresh or frozen fruit into plain yogurt.

■ Do you make half of your grains whole grains?

  • Check food labels on bread or cereal boxes to see if the first ingredient is whole grain, such as whole wheat or whole-grain oats. Cut your favorite snack mix with a whole grain, such as popcorn. If new to whole-grain pasta, try it with flavorful sauces to help you get used to the change.

■ Do you mix up your choices in the protein group?

  • Families spend the largest percentage of their food budget on meat, poultry and seafood, according to a recent report. Replace half (or all) of the meat in a recipe with beans or legumes for a healthful way to save money. Try lentils in burgers, white beans in lasagna or spaghetti, or black beans in burritos.

■ Do you choose low- and fat-free dairy items to get the most nutrition for your calories?

  • Make a dip for raw veggies or whole-grain crackers from low-fat plain yogurt and taco or ranch seasoning.

Put your best fork forward by choosing a variety of healthful foods this month and beyond. Visit www.ag.ndsu.edu/foodwise for recipes and more tips.

Apples often are the symbol of nutrition for good reason. They provide fiber that may lower our blood cholesterol levels. Here’s a recipe for homemade apple sauce to make in your slow cooker. It’s a great way to celebrate National Nutrition Month!

Slow Cooker Applesauce
4 large apples
Juice from 1 lemon
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 c. water

  1. Peel and core apples; cut into quarters.
  2. Add apples, lemon juice, cinnamon, brown sugar and water to a slow cooker; stir.
  3. Cover and cook on low 4 to 6 hours, until apples are very tender.
  4. Mash with the back of a fork or potato masher.

Makes four servings. Each serving has 130 calories, 1 gram (g) protein, 35 g carbohydrate and 6 g fiber.


(Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.)