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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Jenna Smith, Extension Educator brings you helpful tips to make meals easy, healthy and tasty!
Sweet Potato Fries

Happy National Nutrition Month

This week's blog post is written by ISU dietetic intern and graduate student, Nikki Zintak!

"Put Your Best Fork Forward" is an empowering, uplifting phrase that draws attention to something us humans can control: choosing what we put into our bodies. While we have that choice, it is important to realize we also have the ability to choose foods that will benefit our health. The slogan for National Nutrition Month 2017, "Put Your Best Fork Forward" demonstrates the opportunity we have to make the best decisions about our food choices. While there is no "perfect" diet plan or cure-all food, there are simple suggestions you can use to make wiser choices this month and put your best fork forward.

Add More Fruits and Vegetables! Adding a variety of produce to your daily meals has many benefits. Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat and high in fiber. This means you get filled up by eating fruits and vegetables without consuming too much fat! To be fair, not all vegetables are enjoyed raw. Cooking vegetables by steaming, grilling, roasting or sautéing with a small amount of olive oil is a great option to add variety to your meals.

Focus on the Good Fats. We all need fat for our bodies to function properly, but choosing the right fats can benefit your heart and help reduce risk for heart disease! Unsaturated fats, or the "good fats," are found in fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna, flaxseed, and nuts and oils, such as olive oil. On the other hand, saturated, or "bad fats," raise the risk of heart disease. These are found in animal products, such as meat, poultry, cheese, and butter. Replacing meat for salmon one night, or using olive oil to sauté veggies instead of butter are simple ways to go out with the bad (fats) and in with the good.

Doubts about Dining Out? No need! There are simple ways to make eating out less stressful when trying to focus on eating healthy. Finding lean protein sources such as baked/grilled chicken or fish, steamed vegetables, and choosing water over sugary beverages are simple steps to positive change. To focus on portion control, ask for a to-go box before you even start your meal to put half of your entrée away. A familiar motto is "out of sight, out of mind." Portion out your meal before you start, and it will make it easier to eat less and savor the food you've been given.

For more information about National Nutrition Month and healthy eating tips, you can visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics webpage.

Here is a great recipe for fries, which has been tweaked with a more nutrient-rich potato and are baked instead of fried to reduce the amount of fat!

Sweet Potato Fries (Printable PDF)

2 sweet potatoes

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon cumin

Preheat oven to 450°F. Cut potatoes into ¼-inch strips. Mix all other ingredients into large bowl and toss with potatoes until evenly coated. Transfer potatoes to large baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Do not overcrowd potatoes on pan, or have multiple layers; they will not evenly cook/crisp up. Place in oven and cook 25-30 minutes, turning fries every 15 minutes to cook evenly. Remove once fries begin to crisp up.

Yield: 4 servings

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 151 calories, 7 grams fat, 327 milligrams sodium, 22 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, 2 grams protein

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