Healthy eating can include favorite foods

March 31, 2013 at 4:21 PM

DALLAS, March 31 (UPI) -- The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is encouraging people to achieve nutritional goals without forsaking favorite foods, a U.S. expert says.

Lona Sandon, a registered dietitian at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, said proteins should be regarded as a side item, while vegetables should make up the largest portion of meals.

Sandon suggests adding bursts of color as a tool to make sure meals contain a healthy balance of vegetables, grains and proteins.

"The more colorful vegetables on your plate, the better off you are," Sandon said in a statement. "You don't always have to change everything you eat; the trick is to find good things in what you eat every day."

A few of Ms. Sandon's nutrition tips tailored to cuisines from around the world:

-- Chinese: incorporate plenty of broccoli, kale, carrots and water chestnuts into stir-fry dishes. Opt for long-grain or brown rice instead of white rice.

-- African-American: make healthy vegetables like collard and mustard greens, sweet potatoes and corn the largest portion of your meal. Also, a 2-inch square of cornbread is a great grain addition.

-- Italian: strive to add artichokes, beans, spinach, bell peppers and zucchini to your favorite dishes. Instead of pasta, try using quinoa with a dash of olive oil as your main grain.

-- Mexican: color your dishes with plenty of jalapeno and bell peppers, onions, tomatoes and avocado. Corn tortillas contain fewer calories and less lard, making them a better choice than flour tortillas.

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