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All About MyPlate Food Groups

Last month we talked about MyPlate and tips for creating healthy meals with MyPlate food groups: fruits, vegetables, protein, grains and dairy. To read that post, click here. This month we want to share more information about the different food groups and their importance in our diets. We will also share simple, healthy and delicious recipes that incorporate all or most of the food groups!

Fruits and Vegetables

Let’s begin with fruits and vegetables! These foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and low in calories. The key with fruits and vegetables is variety because this allows us to get different vitamins and minerals. Another thing to keep in mind is to choose whole fruits and vegetables and eat the skins, as this is where we find most of the fiber. The reality is that most people do not consume enough fruits and vegetables, so we should aim to make half of our plate fruits and vegetables and include them in our snacks. 

fruits and vegetables

Proteins

The next food group on our list is proteins. This group includes foods such as meat, poultry, seafood, beans and peas, eggs, processed soy products, nuts and seeds. When buying meat, try to choose cuts that are low in fat such as “round” or “loin” and lean ground meat. Not only can we consume protein from animal products but also from vegetable foods such as legumes (beans, lentils, and peas), nuts, seeds and soy. Try a variety of protein foods and don’t be afraid to add more plant proteins to your diet—they are delicious, inexpensive and healthy!

Grains

The next group of MyPlate foods is grains. MyPlate recommends that 30% of our plate include grains. Not only this, but we should aim to make half of our grains whole grains. Whole grains provide us with lots of vitamins (particularly B vitamins), minerals and fiber. Fiber is very important for our digestive and heart health. White, refined grains provide us with little to no fiber so it is important to try to make half of our grains whole.

Dairy

Finally, we have the dairy group. Foods in this group include milk, yogurt, cheese and fortified soymilk. These foods are rich sources of protein, calcium, vitamin D, potassium and many other vitamins and minerals essential for our bodies. We should aim to choose low-fat dairy such as skim or 1% milk because these are lower in saturated fat than whole-fat dairy. But just because they are lower in fat does not mean they are lower in vitamins. Skim and 1% milk still contain the same amount of calcium, protein and vitamins!

Recipes

ONIE has hundreds of recipes that incorporate all or most food groups. Here are a few of our favorites:

Roasted steak fajitas is a meal that combines all the food groups—from steak (protein) to tortillas (grain), onion, peppers (vegetables), pineapple (fruit), cheese and Greek yogurt (dairy).

Chicken broccoli shells and cheese is a healthier version of a kid-friendly meal that combines chicken (protein), pasta shells (grain), broccoli (vegetable), milk and cheese (dairy). Serve it with a side of your favorite fruit for a complete MyPlate meal!

Avocado black bean enchiladas are a delicious and easy vegetarian option that combines beans (protein), tortillas (grain), avocadoes, bell peppers (vegetable), cheese and Greek yogurt (dairy).

Okie shrimp and okra is a seafood option that combines shrimp (protein), brown rice (grain), okra, bell peppers and tomatoes (vegetables). Serve this with a side of fresh fruit and yogurt for a sweet and healthy treat and a complete MyPlate meal!

This garden veggie frittata is a simple and healthy meal for breakfast, lunch, or dinner! It combines eggs (protein), zucchini, tomato, sweet potato (vegetables), and cheese (dairy). Serve it with a slice of toast and piece of fruit for a complete MyPlate meal!

For more simple, healthy and delicious recipes, visit our recipes page. Search by ingredients, protein, meal-type and prep time! 

Check back with us as we share more detailed nutrition information about each of the MyPlate food groups. Don’t forget to leave comments and let us know what you are interested in learning. We want to share as much helpful information with you as possible!

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