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Filling your plate in the healthiest way

Is one of your resolutions for the new year’s to eat healthier?

One of the easiest things you can do to improve your health involves using a tool you already use every time you eat — your plate — and how you fill that plate. Using your plate as a guide can help you eat the right foods and right amount of foods for better health. The concept is simple; first fill your plate (or bowl) half full of vegetables and fruit.

Why does MyPlate! work? By filling your plate half full of fruits and vegetables, you get many powerful health benefits including:

•Nutrients such as folate, magnesium, potassium, fiber and vitamins A, C and K that are under-consumed by many Americans.

•Reduced risk of chronic diseases such as heart attack, stroke and certain types of cancers.

•Assistance in achieving a healthy weight because fruits and veggies are low in calories yet high in fiber.

Use the idea every time you eat whether it s breakfast, eating out, a snack or dessert or going back for a second helping.

Visualize the plate or bowl and first fill it half full of a fruit and/or vegetable.

MyPlate! Tips

1. Consider the size of your plate. Try using a 9-inch plate as a way to reduce portion size and calories.

2. Review the food groups; what foods fit into each section?

•Visually divide the plate or bowl in half.

•Fill half of the plate with veggies and/or fruit.

•Fill one-quarter of the plate with lean meat or protein.

•Fill one-quarter of the plate with grains, including whole grains as much as possible.

•Add one serving of low-fat milk, yogurt or cheese.

3. Know proper portion sizes for each MyPlate! section. You still need to measure!

4. Focus on whole, low-fat foods:

•fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables

•whole grains

•fresh, lean protein

•skim milk, cheese and nonfat yogurt.

Here are examples of how to make MyPlate! work for you.

Family dinner

Whole wheat spaghetti noodles topped with meat sauce, side of leafy green salad with cherry tomatoes, glass of skim milk, broiled pineapple for dessert.

Brown bag lunch

Sandwich — whole wheat bread, turkey, low-fat cheese and fresh vegetables, side of baby carrots, two clementines.

Quick breakfast

Parfait — nonfat yogurt layered with berries, granola and sliced almonds, banana on the side.

Creamy Pasta with Mushrooms and Spinach

Serves 4

All you need

•3 cups uncooked Hy-Vee bowtie pasta

•1 tbsp Grand Selections olive oil

•1 (8 oz) package sliced baby bella mushrooms

•1 cup packed baby spinach leaves

•1/3 cup Hy-Vee beef broth

•1/2 cup Philadelphia! Italian Cheese and Herb Cooking Creme

•Hy-Vee salt and black pepper, to taste

All you do

1. Prepare pasta according to package directions.

2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and spinach and sautÈ 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently.

3. Stir in broth and simmer 1-2 minutes; stir in cooking creme. Gently stir in cooked pasta to coat.

4. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 310 calories, 9 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 330 mg sodium, 48 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 11 g protein.

Daily Values: 10% vitamin A, 2% vitamin C, 6% calcium, 15% iron.