By Christina Fakhoury, Extension Agent – Better Living for Texans
Every year during the month of March the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics celebrates National Nutrition Month. This year’s theme is “Celebrate a World of Flavors,” and focuses on celebrating foods and flavors from different cultures all around the world.
Think about a family recipe that has been passed down from generation to generation. Positive memories are often associated with our family meals or ingredients.
At its most practical form, food provides our body with nutrients to go and stay healthy; however, food can be an expression of our cultural identity. Our favorite dishes, ingredients, spices, or cooking methods can represent traditions, beliefs, and practices from a variety of different regions, ethnicities, and religions.
Traditionally, cultural foods have been considered unhealthy; however, we know there are a variety of foods available to us that are tasty and nutritious for our bodies.
The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans provide a framework that gives each of us the space to adapt our diet as needed based on personal preferences, medical history, budget, and culture. Rather than omitting cultural foods that you love, think about how to make them healthier with these suggestions.
- Be mindful of portion sizes and eat a variety of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, protein, and dairy.
- Eat more unsaturated fats like olive or canola oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds.
- Use a variety of cooking methods like steaming, baking, roasting, and barbequing. These cooking methods use less fat compared to frying.
- Reduce salt and sugar intake by using different spices and herbs. Examples include chili powder, curry powder, nutmeg, lemongrass, and cilantro which can be found at many grocery stores.
From Japanese cuisine to a West-African dish or Tex-Mex Tacos and Soul Food, remember there is room at the table for all types of food! This month celebrate a World of Flavors and try a new food that may be less familiar to you!