By Janette Bedoyan, Registered Dietitian
This year’s theme for National Nutrition Month is ‘Personalize Your Plate’. It is important to eat a variety of nutritious foods, plan out meals, and learn to create tasty and healthy dishes. You can make your daily cooking exciting and interesting by incorporating food from other cultures.
Supermarkets are expanding the type of food products they offer to meet the needs of customers, who are looking for foods that value their traditions–foods that have been passed on from generations. With a variety of food products available, it is easier to create nutritious meals that align with a variety of cultural preferences.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) encourages Americans to:
- Fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables,
- Make half of your grains whole grains,
- Vary your protein choices, and
- Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products.
While it is recommended to use these guidelines to help form your daily diet, you can customize it by incorporating food from your own culture or experiment with food from different cultures. For example, with grains, you can choose spaghetti, tortillas, or couscous, depending on your family’s food traditions or flavor profiles. Similarly, for protein, you may choose chicken or tofu. You can look for modified recipes of your favorite foods that have less saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, and calories.
There is no one food that you should be eating to stay healthy. Recipes across all cultures have all of the nutrition and great taste that can be a part of your healthy diet.
Tacos are loved by most and it can be customized to your flavor profile with different fillings. To help get you started on diversifying the food on your plate, here is a delicious, healthy Taco recipe which uses beans as the protein source and incorporates a variety of vegetables to create a more balanced meal.
How to Make Vegan Pinto Bean Tacos
Recipe adapted from Eatright.org (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics)
Serving size: 2 Tacos
- 1 16-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 tablespoons chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons yellow onion, chopped
- 1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced (optional)
- ½ teaspoon garlic, minced
- Cooking spray
- 1 medium yellow squash, sliced into coins
- 1 medium zucchini squash, sliced into coins
- 1 small yellow onion, sliced
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 8 6-inch corn or whole wheat tortillas
- ½ cup prepared salsa
- ½ cup (2 ounces) reduced-fat cheese
- 1 medium tomato, chopped
- Heat oven to 400°F (204°C).
- Mash beans and broth with a fork or potato masher until smooth. Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté chopped onion and jalapeño pepper (if using) 4 to 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic and cook for a minute. Add bean puree and stir until well combined. Cook 4 to 5 minutes or until heated.
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Cut the coins of squash and zucchini into quarters. Spray yellow squash, zucchini, and sliced onion with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake approximately 20 minutes, flipping sliced vegetables halfway through cooking time.
- Heat tortillas. Spread approximately ¼ cup bean mixture onto each tortilla. Top with approximately ¼ cup squash and onions. Finish each taco with 1 tablespoon salsa, 1 tablespoon cheese and chopped tomatoes.
Try different cuisines as you never know what your new favorite meal might be. So, try this recipe for next Taco Tuesday and make a healthy meal for your family!
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