MyPlate Gets a Makeover & Mexican Food with a Vegan, Gluten-Free Flair

I hope you are all having a great week!

I’ve been thinking about some different topics, and one I thought would be important to share with you (seeing as this is a nutrition, etc blog) is MyPlate.  It’s the latest icon from the USDA illustrating the most recent Dietary Guidelines, and focuses on portion size.  It seems to be a step in the right direction, but still has many shortcomings.  Let’s evaluate, shall we?

I guess I’ve always tried to keep what I thought the “Dietary Guidelines” were in the back of my head: eat fruits and vegetables, make sure to include low-fat dairy everyday, etc…  But, it wasn’t until IIN that I learned about it enough to have an opinion.  In hindsight, I really didn’t know much about it at all, and I guess trusted the USDA to put the interests of the American consumer first.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, there is so much conflicting information out there when it comes to nutrition; it’s an evolving science.  That’s where the USDA comes in and creates MyPlate (formerly MyPyramind), and although one of their responsibilities is to protect the American consumer, it seems that their primary concern is assuring the success and profits of big agribusiness.  Okay, okay – I’m finally ready to evaluate:

here it is, MyPlate

The plate concept is a great idea, it helps in terms of visualizing portion size.  A few additions to the visual include:

  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables
  • Make at least half your grains whole grains
  • Switch to skim or 1% milk
  • Vary your protein food choices
  • Cut back on sodium and empty calories from solid fats and added sugars
  • Be physically active your way (for adults this means getting 2 hours and 30 minutes+ a week of activity that requires moderate effort, like brisk walking)

There are some great concepts here, but there are lots of ways to improve MyPlate and most of it comes down to being less vague.  Let’s do some revamping!

Veggies:  Potatoes are included in this category, but are really more of a starch source.  Not all veggies are created equal, and potatoes really shouldn’t be included here.

Grains:  Should stress whole grains, and whole grains only!

Protein:  Be conscious of which proteins you’re consuming.  Focus should be on minimizing red meat and emphasizing nuts, legumes, fish and poultry.

Dairy:  Although it’s embedded in our heads, dairy is not essential to a healthy diet.  This can be eliminated completely and substituted with water.  Plenty of evidence has come to light that show the risks of dairy consumption actually outweigh the benefits.  After all, nutrition is an ever evolving science!

Oils:  Not mentioned on MyPlate, but since about 1/3 of our calories come from fat it’s important to note which ones are healthier options.  For now, we’ll keep it simple – limit butter and lard and emphasize liquid vegetable oil.

Other:  While it does mention drinking water instead of sugary drinks, eating sugary desserts less often, and making foods high in solid fats (like cakes, pizza, hotdogs) occasional choices, it wouldn’t hurt to put in additional information about artificial junk food, alcohol or caffeine.

I hope this was helpful, and gave you insight on the USDA’s newest food guide, and how you can make healthier options using it as a reference.  In this case, as far as information goes, less isn’t more.  Please visit

Oh, did you think this was over?  Not yet (sorry)!  Now that I’m borderline obsessed with cooking at my apartment, I’m constantly wanting to try out new recipes and share them with you.  Tonight, I was craving Mexican.  For those of you who don’t know me, it is probably…um…okay, definitely my favorite!  Whilst pinning I came across this: Greens, Beans, and Grains with a Spanish Twist, a vegan, gluten-free and non-dairy recipe from an IIN graduate; figured I’d give it a whirl.

A few things I wanted to share before we get into dinner:

  • While perusing the aisle for black beans, I found quinoa, regular quinoa – right next to where I found mine last Sunday; I doubt they’ll have it in stock next time I go to buy it, but at least I know it was there.
  • My can of frijoles negros had MyPlate on it!  And no, my store does not carry organic beans.  I really need to start going to Whole Foods.

there you have it!

  • Still no cilantro.  I give up!

As I mentioned above with MyPlate and some of the revamping, this recipe has lots of veggies, whole grains and protein.  It’s okay to have some fun with this one.  I used onion instead of shallots and chili powder in lieu of all the other spices.  This would be great with quinoa as well if you want to switch up the brown rice.  And for those who just have to fit in their low-fat dairy, maybe a dollop of Greek yogurt.  All I know is that I’m going to have leftovers for days.

olive oil, spices, veggies

sweet potato, black beans & all

dinner is served (with a little avocado of course)

Bon appetit!


3 thoughts on “MyPlate Gets a Makeover & Mexican Food with a Vegan, Gluten-Free Flair

  1. Pingback: Get Kids to Eat Their Vegetables—Really! « My Top Weightloss

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