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A Personalized Plate: Colorful and Balanced to Make Every Bite Count

Bethany Balentine –Dietetic Intern

Lettuce TacosWhen I think of personalizing my plate, I try to vary my plate as much as I can by using the five primary food groups: Fruits, vegetables, protein, grains and dairy. When I look in my cookbooks at home or at recipes online, I sometimes find that there isn’t as much variety as I would like. One of my favorite recipes, chili beef lettuce wraps, is delicious, but it’s heavy on protein and doesn’t fill me up as much as I would like (photo on the left). I decided to take the food group concept and apply it to this recipe to see if I could make it a more balanced and exciting meal. With my leftover meat from the original recipe, I added red bell peppers, extra lettuce (vegetables), white rice (grain) and additional cilantro for a flavor boost (photo on the right). Not only did this recipe fill me up, but it tasted better, was more colorful and was easier to eat in the bowl!

Rice Bowl with VeggiesThis technique can be applied to any meal at any time of the day! Let's tackle lunch next. Rather than simply eating slices of pizza, you can make this meal more balanced with the addition of a salad. Eat the salad first and it is less likely that you will over-indulge on the pizza.

Breakfast is not only the hardest meal for me to eat, but it is the hardest for me to balance. I tend to stick to light and easy dishes in the morning that take no time to prepare.

Breakfast, strawberries and chexSomething I have found is it is quick and easy to add fruit to any breakfast that I am eating, such as a bowl of cereal, a packet of oatmeal, or a cup of yogurt. Another food group that I struggle with in the morning is protein. What I find to be helpful are small additions, such as adding protein powder to a morning smoothie or spreading peanut butter on a slice of toast.

There is no one right method to balancing your meals. Find what techniques work best for you and apply these strategies to make every bite count!

Two slices of pizza and a veggie bowl