‘Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day’ With Ethnic Dishes

As part of National Nutrition Month in March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is offering ways to “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day” with foods that appeal to Americans of all ethnic backgrounds.

‘As a registered dietitian (RD), I am asked every day, ‘What should I eat?’” said Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokeswoman Vandana Sheth. “The answer of course is, ‘It depends.’ Eating is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ proposition. RDs make recommendations that accommodate the food preferences, cultural traditions and customs of the many and diverse groups who live in our country.”

Noting that by 2050, half of the U.S. population will be nonwhite, Sheth pointed out, “We need to have a global perspective on food and focus on diversity and multiculturalism, especially as they relate to the nutritional health of families.”

With this demographic shift in mind, the academy has assembled from a range of ethnic traditions a list of healthful menu items that follow the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate recommendations. Among the items on the list are:

  • Chinese: Stir-fried chicken and vegetables such as bok choy, snap peas, carrots and bean sprouts; brown rice; and a dish of lychee fruit.
  • Italian: Minestrone (a tomato-based soup with beans, vegetables and pasta) with kidney beans added for folate, fiber and protein, and gnocchi (flour or potato dumplings), with chopped vegetables such as spinach incorporated into the dough, served with lycopene-rich tomato sauce.
  • Greek: Tzatziki sauce (a creamy dressing of low-fat yogurt, garlic and cucumber) served on pita sandwiches or as a dip with vegetables; dolmas (grape leaves stuffed with ground meat; vegetables such as bell peppers, eggplant and squash; rice; dried fruit; and pine nuts).
  • Mexican: Jicama (a crisp, slightly sweet root vegetable) peeled, sliced and served on a salad with lime vinaigrette or chopped for a crunchy addition to salsas, and gazpacho (a cold tomato-based raw vegetable soup) made with spinach or cucumbers.

Additional menu ideas for ethnic foods that meet Dietary Guidelines and MyPlate recommendations include fruit chutney (Asian Indian), grilled pineapple as part of a chicken shish kabob (Middle Eastern), mango or other tropical fruit smoothie (Latin American), baked pumpkin sprinkled with cinnamon (African), polish beets (European), stir-fried greens (Asian), cactus salad (Latin American), succotash (Native American or Southern United States), couscous (African), quinoa (Latin American), naan bread (Asian Indian), and egg noodles (German).

The Chicago-based academy also offers videos with tips for eating healthfully with foods from all ethnic traditions, and its National Nutrition Month website offers a variety of resources.

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