National Nutrition Month: Put Your Best Fork Forward

Get Snacking: National Nutrition Month

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- March is National Nutrition Month, which is a good time to focus on making healthier food choices. 

Nutrition expert Rima Kleiner joined The Good Morning Show this week to demonstrate healthier options when it comes to snacking, carbs and protein. 

1.    Amp up your snacks – A 2015 Mintel study shows that 94% of Americans snack throughout the day. If you’re a snacker, make those mini meals count by mixing and matching tasty, colorful foods to fit your snack craving. If you’re looking for something salty or savory, mix omega-3 rich tuna with vitamin C-rich mini bell peppers halves or fiber-rich rosemary-parmesan popcorn. Or to satisfy that sweet tooth, mix antioxidant-rich dark chocolate with vitamin C-rich blackberries, top a fiber-rich whole grain cracker with probiotic-rich yogurt and berries or whip up fiber-rich no-bake oat and fruit energy balls. 


No-Bake Chocolate Zucchini Energy Bites

½ zucchini, shredded
1¼ cup regular oats
¼ cup favorite nut or sunflower butter
3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
10 pitted dates
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. chia seeds

Grate or shred zucchini; squeeze out as much water as possible and sprinkle with a touch of salt (to absorb water). Put oats in blender; pulverize until it is oat flour. Add grated zucchini to blender; blend oat “flour” with zucchini until well mixed. Add remaining ingredients. Roll into bite-sized balls (about 1-inch round) and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes until firm. Store in a closed container in refrigerator.

2.    Go whole – Most Americans eat plenty of grains, but too little of those grains are whole. Eating a diet rich in refined grains means that you are likely missing out on the dietary fiber and B vitamins in the whole version. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans urges us to make at least half of those grains whole. Kleiner said you have to make sure you’re buying whole grains. You can even substitute whole grains in your favorite recipes. 


3.    Shift your proteins – According to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines, American adults eat plenty of protein but not enough from the seafood and nuts categories. The Guidelines recommend shifting your proteins to include more of these protein sources that are also rich in heart-healthy fats. Kleiner suggests replacing the meat in your favorite dishes with seafood—like beef burgers become salmon burgers and chicken tacos become tuna tacos. You can also boost the nutrient content in favorites like smoothies by adding nuts. Kleiner said instead of eating a sugary granola bar, you can make protein-rich pumpkin seed energy balls.

Salmon burgers

2 (5-oz.) pouches salmon
1 egg
¼ whole wheat breadcrumbs or panko
½ onion, finely chopped
¼ cup reduced-fat cheddar cheese, shredded
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. light mayonnaise or nonfat plain yogurt

Optional seasonings: Dried dill weed, chili powder, Old Bay seasoning, salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 475-F degrees. Mix salmon and egg in medium bowl. Add rest of ingredients; combine well. Form into patties and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes, turning half-way through. Serve with sliced avocado on whole wheat buns or lettuce leaves. Makes 4 servings.

For more nutrition tips, you can visit Kleiner's website here.

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