Rather than asking you to imagine your daily eating habits as a pyramid or another artsy geometric arrangement, MyPlate simply rallies its viewers to make their plates look like its own image: a balanced plate. With half the plate devoted to fruits and vegetables, and the rest divided between protein and whole grains (with some nonfat dairy on the side), MyPlate presents a healthful approach to any meal or snack.
The other day, I realized that it had been a while since I’d made a meal that fit perfectly into MyPlate’s specifications. So I decided to try an experiment and make a brand-new MyPlate meal.
To start, I got out one of my very own plastic MyPlate plates. These are totally optional when it comes to recreating this dish, but I do love the way these plates make MyPlate messages that much more concrete. And they’re bright and colorful to boot!
As I often do, I decided to start with fruits and vegetables. I had some gorgeous broccoli left over from an enthusiastic trip to the farmers’ market, so I gently steamed a cup of it and then used the florets to fill a quarter of my plate.
Now for fruits. Blueberries would add a nice note of sweetness. Since I had some of these bright berries in the crisper, I used them to fill another quarter of the plate.
What about protein? I had a 3.5-ounce skinless, boneless chicken breast calling my name from the fridge, so I grilled it and added it to my plate, along with some fresh salsa.
That just left grains and dairy. Since MyPlate counsels people to choose whole grains instead of refined grains, I knew that a half cup of brown rice would fit the bill nicely. There’s another quarter of the plate done.
Now for the side — an 8-ounce glass of skim milk.
Voila! Here’s a tasty, balanced, and nutritious meal that takes minutes to put together and which matches MyPlate’s key messages very well.
Let's take a closer look at how the calories break down…
- Chicken Breast: 165 calories
- Brown Rice: 108 calories
- Milk: 83 calories
- Blueberries: 83 calories
- Broccoli: 31 calories
- Fresh Salsa: 22 calories
So, how will you balance your plate today?
Oh, and before I sign off, here’s a free handout that outlines how to recreate this plate. How will you use your copy?
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Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.