No stranger to friendly food competition, Anne Burrell is a seasoned restaurant chef known for her no-nonsense mentorship of a team of recruits on Worst Cooks in America and eager executive-chef hopefuls on Chef Wanted. In Washington, D.C. yesterday, she donned her chef’s hat for a worthy cause, taking the stage next to Iron Chef Jose Garces for a good-natured cook-off in the Great American School Lunch Challenge. This contest, in concert with the Partnership for a Healthier America, celebrates the work of Let’s Move!, an effort headed by First Lady Michelle Obama to reduce the rates of childhood obesity in the United States through a multi-layered plan which includes access to healthy school lunches. It was up to chefs Anne and Jose to work within the confines of a limited budget and dietary restrictions to turn out deliciously wholesome dishes that were not only nutritionally sound but also appealing to kids and their perhaps picky palates.
Proud of the way the Challenge “shines a light on the school lunch program … in a fun and creative way,” Anne told us that the event “puts the task to me as a chef to say, ‘Alright, show us your creativity and what you can do with these nutritional guidelines to feed the kids in 30 minutes. Make it delicious, make it fast and make it fun.’”
Anne’s nutritious staples that won’t break the bank
- Is your vegetarian plate a balanced one?
I’ll never forget a client I had who was following a vegan diet but – get this – hated vegetables! Imagine me trying to conceal my shock and concern as she described her “plant-based” diet that was loaded with refined carbs and processed mock meats. We worked together to build her taste and appreciation for dark leafy greens and brightly colored vegetables and ultimately got her plate in shape and her diet more well-rounded.
This year’s National Nutrition Month theme is to Get Your Plate in Shape and I want to stress how important that is for vegetarians and vegans, or those who are focusing on a more plant-based diet, to make sure our plates are well balanced with complex carbs, plenty of protein, and of course, vegetables. All too often have I seen people make the swap from meat-eating to plant-based diets and simply omit the meat without replacing it with plant sources of protein. Not only does that create a void in the diet, but also a void in your stomach, leaving you hungry and unsatisfied.
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- A piece of this lasagna plus a green salad and even some dessert equals a well-balanced meal.
In honor of National Nutrition Month we’re giving you meal ideas that follow the USDA’s MyPlate recommendations. We’ve covered breakfast and lunch—now it’s dinner time.
Ending the day with a well-balanced meal is important. This is your last big change to take in any nutrients you may not have gotten enough of during the day. For example, if you have pasta primavera for lunch, be sure to include 3 to 4 ounces of protein for dinner. If you didn’t get in all your fruits during the day, make sure to add one for dessert.
Meal 1: Lasagna
Green Salad With Strawberry-Balsamic Vinaigrette
Baked Banana With Cinnamon and Honey
Food groups: protein, grain, dairy, fruit, veggie
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- Pack a lunch that meets the MyPlate guidelines.
We’re continuing our celebration of National Nutrition Month; last week we gave you breakfast options that follow the USDA’s MyPlate guidelines; now on to lunch.
The guidelines for lunch are pretty similar to breakfast. You want to make sure half of your plate is filled with fruit and veggies, ¼ with grains and ¼ with lean protein. Although the MyPlate photo shows milk as a side beverage, it’s not a must at every meal. You can get in your dairy in the form of low-fat or nonfat cheese or yogurt too.
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- Keeping track of the good stuff you put on your plate just got easier.
Keeping healthy eating goals on track just got easier thanks to the USDA’s free online food-and-exercise log, SuperTracker. This new tool uses the government My Plate recommendations to dole out eating advice, as well as quality nutrition information.
The SuperTracker’s main features include: a food tracker, a physical activity tracker, a weight manager and a Food-A-Pedia containing around 9,000 food items that have been analyzed for nutritional content by the USDA.
“If it says ‘burrito with whole-wheat tortilla,’ we did the calculation to know the exact amount of whole grains that contains,” says Dr. Robert Post, Deputy Director of the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. “That is very different than most databases that rely on the nutritional facts on product packages.”
Customize advice based on age, weight and gender, plus set goals, journal, track weight and even receive virtual coaching with recommendations on what to eat and how much to exercise. Get detailed reports of nutrient intake over time or simply find out how many calories are in your upcoming meal. Mobile apps are being developed, Post says. Until then, share progress on Facebook and Twitter.
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