There is not one food or eating pattern that fits everyone. A plate packed with good nutrition can include foods from all over the world. The 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans says: “Nutrient-dense culturally relevant foods and beverages are part of all the food groups.”
No matter what you eat, following the Dietary Guidelines is a good way to include a variety of nutritious foods. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables, with the rest of the plate including protein, such as lean meat, poultry, seafood or beans and grains. Your grains should preferably be whole grains. With each meal, add calcium-rich foods such as fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese or calcium-fortified non-dairy beverages.
With the many varieties of foods available, nutritious meals can include foods from any culture.
Chinese: Stir-fried chicken and vegetables such as Bok choy, snap peas, carrots and bean sprouts; brown rice and a dish of lychee fruit.
Italian: Minestrone (a hearty, tomato-based soup with vegetables and pasta) with kidney beans that add folate, fiber and protein; gnocchi (flour or potato soup dumplings) with chopped vegetables including spinach mixed into the dough and served with lycopene-rich tomato sauce.
Greek: Tzatziki sauce (a creamy dressing of low-fat yogurt, garlic and cucumber) served on pita sandwiches or as a dip with vegetables; and dolmas (grape leaves stuffed with meat, vegetables such as bell peppers, eggplant and squash, rice, dried fruit and pine nuts).
Mexican: Jicama (a crisp and slightly sweet root vegetable) peeled, sliced and served on a salad with lime vinaigrette or chopped for a crunchy addition to salsas; and gazpacho (a cold tomato-based raw vegetable soup made with spinach or cucumbers.
Try these additional menu ideas for a global cuisine that adds flavor, variety and nutrition:
Fruit chutney – Asia Indian
Grilled pineapple as part of a chicken shish kabob – Middle East
Mango or other tropical fruits – Latin America
Baked pumpkin sprinkled with cinnamon – African
Polish beets – European
Stir-fried greens – Asian
Quinoa – Latin American
Dal – Asian Indian.
Easy Tzatziki Sauce
¾ English cucumber, partially peeled and grated
1 teaspoon salt
4 to 5 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups plain Greek yogurt
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
Warm pita bread
1. Grate cucumbers and season with ½ teaspoon of salt. Place in a napkin and squeeze the liquid out.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine garlic, remaining salt, vinegar and olive oil. Mix well.
3. Add grated cucumber to the bowl with the garlic mixture. Stir in the yogurt and a pinch of pepper. Stir and combine well.
4. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes to 2 hours before serving. This will help thicken the sauce and give it the best texture.
5. Before serving, stir sauce and transfer to a serving bowl. Drizzle with more olive oil if you would like. Serve with your favorite vegetables, or pita wedges.
Nutrition Facts: 1 tablespoon: 16 calories; 1 g. carbohydrates, 1.5 g. protein.
Kathy Smith is a Texas A&M AgriLife extension agent in Parker County.