Spring forward with National Nutrition Month…yes, that’s right each March the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics promotes ways in which we can all achieve healthy eating and physical activity habits.

The theme for 2017 is Put Your Best Fork Forward. It serves as a reminder that each bite counts and that we have a handy tool at our fingertips. As highlighted in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it’s starting with small changes (like one forkful of food) that contribute to sustained healthier lifestyles.

Key messages for 2017 include:

  1. Create an eating style that includes a variety of your favorite, healthful foods.
  2. Practice cooking more at home and experiment with healthier ingredients.
  3. How much we eat is as important as what we eat. Eat and drink the right amount for you, as MyPlate suggests.
  4. Find activities that you enjoy and be physically active most days of the week.
  5. Manage your weight or lower your health risks by consulting a registered dietitian nutritionist. RDNs can provide sound, easy-to-follow personalized nutrition advice to meet your lifestyle, preferences and health-related needs.
    Avocados are a nutritious source of healthy fats.
    Avocados are a nutritious source of healthy fats.

As we spring into action, let’s take a look at key message #2: practice cooking at home and experiment with healthier ingredients with these 3 suggested substitutions.

  1. Avocado: These fruits contain more potassium than bananas, are a good source of vitamin K and fiber, have heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids as well as, lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants associated with eye health. Remember portion control as 1/5 of an avocado is the recommended serving size.
  • Best Fork Forward Solution:Swap traditional mayo for avocado. Spread avocado on your sandwich, mix avocado with canned tuna or salmon, create a creamy avocado dressing or enjoy protein packed avocado deviled eggs!
  1. Rainbow of organic cauliflower from the local market. Cauliflower comes in multiple colors!
    Rainbow of organic cauliflower from the local market. Cauliflower comes in multiple colors!

    Cauliflower: Purple or orange, but most commonly seen in off-white color, cauliflower is a member of the Brassica family (like broccoli, kale, cabbage, and collards) and known as a cruciferous vegetable. It is low calorie and low fat: 1 cup of cooked cauliflower has only 29 calories. As well, it is a good source of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K and folate.

  • Best Fork Forward Solution:Swap white potatoes, rice and even pizza crust for cauliflower. Season and roast it as a substitute for potato wedges, steam and mash it for a mashed potato stand-in, “rice it” (quarter it and run through the food processor) or even skip the flour when making pizza.
  1. Lentils: A legume or pulse that packs a punch. A 1 cup serving of cooked lentils is high in fiber, iron, folate as well as protein—think of it as a heart healthy, filling, meatless option. Easy to prepare (no soaking required) and versatile too (more than just soup).
  • Lentils are a delicious and nutritious source of protein and fiber.
    Lentils are a delicious and nutritious source of protein and fiber.

    Best Fork Forward Solution:Swap ground beef for lentils…try meatless. Use lentils as a taco or burrito filling; add lettuce, cheese and tomato to a lentil burger or even make spicy lentil balls for your next appetizer.

So, have fun, try new foods, and as you spring into action, put your best fork forward!


Paul Reilly

Paul is the Owner and Founder of MidStrong. He created MidStrong in 2017 to train men and women in midlife who are busy with work and family to build muscle and burn fat so they can look and feel better than they did in their 20’s. MidStrong is making Functional Fitness training safe and fun, and inclusive. He and his wife, Julie also own and operate MidStrong locally, their bricks and mortar business, previously called ACCELERATED Strength & Balance. It is a boutique fitness center specializing in training folks in and around Westborough through the challenges of midlife for more than five years.