March is National Nutrition Month, an annual campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Every March, the Academy invites you to learn more about making informed food choices and developing healthful eating habits because habits formed now can have a lasting, positive effect on your health in the future.
This year’s theme is Celebrate a World of Flavors! There is no better time than now to learn about different flavors from cultures around the world to appreciate the cultural diversity all around us. Everyone is unique, we all have different backgrounds and tastes, and learning more about meals from other cultures can introduce us to new foods and flavors. If you are new to cooking, or if you are looking for ways to change up your regular meals, this is the month for you!
- Vary your breakfast (or first meal of the day). A smoothie with low-fat yogurt, kefir, or buttermilk and tropical fruits, like papaya, pineapple, or mango. Congee, a Chinese rice porridge, served plain or topped with vegetables and a protein food like eggs, cooked chicken, or fish. A simple Tex-Mex breakfast of migas (eggs scrambled with vegetables and corn tortilla).
- Choose healthier snacks that include foods from different groups. Fruit chutney with bread or cheese, raw veggies with hummus or tzatziki, whole grain tortilla chips with guacamole or salsa made with vegetables or fruit, or roasted chickpeas are all great choices.
- Think seasonally when it comes to ingredients. In hot weather, consider popular dishes from around the world that don’t require heating. Gazpacho, a cold and blended soup, can be made with tomatoes, peppers, and onions. Watermelon is also sometimes used. When it is cold outside, many people look to comforting foods like soups, stews, and oven-cooked foods. Try something like this Split Pea Pozole, a vegetarian version of a traditional Mexican soup.
- Personalize your plate by including your favorite cultural foods and traditions. Many cuisines have dishes which include foods from each food group making them well-balanced and nutritious! Most recipes can be modified to include foods you like to eat.