March is National Nutrition Month (NNM), an annual awareness campaign by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that invites everyone to learn about making informed food choices and developing healthful habits.
This year’s theme – Personalize Your Plate – underscores the simple fact that there is no single way to “eat right.” Food choices are, after all, personal. And healthy habits that last are ones that suit your palette, fit your schedule and feel good for you.
In honor of NNM 2021, we asked our staff of Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) and food and nutrition experts, “How do you personalize your plate?”
“I find ways to ‘sneak in’ extra fiber. Baking homemade banana bread and adding flax seed to cereals and yogurt are some of my favorite ways to give my plate a nutritional boost.” – Erin DeSimone, MS, RDN, LDN, FAND
“We know times are tough for some of our favorite restaurants. And frankly, we’re getting tired of cooking every single meal at home. Now we are practicing Mediterranean Mondays — every Monday night we place a big order from our favorite Mediterranean place down the street from us. It gives us something to look forward to on the worst day of the week, and we order enough food for lunches or snacks during the rest of the work week. That’s how I meal plan. 😊” – Bree Flammini
“To boost my fruits and veggies, I make up bags of spinach and berries each Sunday and pop them in the freezer – and then use each bag for my morning smoothie with protein powder and milk.” – Michelle Kijek
“I’m fortunate to live in our country’s number-one state for growing fruits and vegetables — California! But you don’t have to travel to the West Coast to add more produce to your plate. Support your local agro-economy by seeking out farmers’ markets and CSA programs. Pro tip: many are partnering with local restaurants for pickup or offer delivery straight to your door. It’s a great way to celebrate the seasonal selection and your unique community.” – Laruen Hoffman, MBA, RDN
“I’m obsessed with adding fried shallots (or onions) to almost every savory meal I make. It really elevates the dish in a surprising way. And, it’s super easy to keep on hand as there are many options available at the store to put right in your pantry.” – Howard Goldstein, MS, RDN
“Curry is my favorite comfort food – it’s more versatile than people think, and you load it up with your favorite veggies, or protein or whatever you have on hand. Not to mention it’s also loaded with FLAVOR.” – Inez Be
“I personalize my plate by practicing my green thumb! What started as a small (literally) hobby of growing microgreens has turned into a full-fledged garden. This spring and summer, I hope to make farm to fork just a walk out my backdoor and enjoy home-grown tomatoes, peppers, peas, carrots, edible flowers and more.” – Elizabeth Reilly
“We use avocados on everything, and eat whole avocados with a spoon, right out of the rind, as a healthy (but indulgent) snack. Don’t even need a plate.” – Grant Prentice
“Snack meals are my JAM. On days where I’m strapped for time or not feeling a full lunch, I turn to snack meals – AKA mini ‘lunch-cuterie.’ I love to pair whole-grain/seeded crackers with filling proteins like sliced deli turkey or flavored tuna pouches, and round out my personalized plate by adding spicy hummus, Greek olives, sliced veggies (e.g., cukes, pickled beets, bell pepper strips) and cheese. The possibilities are endless and they’re seriously so fun and simple to whip up!” – Lindsay MacNab, MS, RDN
“Outside of water, my go-to beverage to pair with my plate is black tea with a splash of milk. My grandma introduced it to me when I was young (definitely too young for caffeine), and it’s been my staple ever since!” – Maura Killian, RDN
“A staple in our house is cottage cheese – good source of protein that can be paired with my fave, beets, or also with tomatoes or peaches. Great for kids as a side to a sandwich or as a snack! Another item we always have on hand is yogurt – while I prefer to have mine for breakfast, my husband eats his with lunch every day, so it’s just a great option any time of day!” – Sherry Watkins
“I try to prepare fruits and cook extra vegetables at the start of the week so I always have them within arm’s reach in the fridge to quickly add to meals throughout the day, from omelets and oatmeal to salads and grain bowls.” – Allison Mikita
“My quarantine hobby has been making my own kombucha – super fun to experiment with all the flavor combinations. So far, my favorite flavor concoction has been blueberry ginger. It’s the perfect fizzy mid-afternoon pick me up.” – Katie Pawelczyk, MS, RDN