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National Nutrition Month® is a nutrition education and information campaign created annually in March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day, also celebrated in March, increases awareness of registered dietitian nutritionists as the indispensable providers of food and nutrition services and recognizes RDNs for their commitment to helping people enjoy healthy lives.
America is known as a melting pot of cultures who enjoy a variety of ethnic dishes, but some of these recipes can be high in saturated fat and calories. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics offers tips on how to cut down on fat while savoring the flavor of traditional family fare.
"Family recipes are usually passed down from one generation to the next, so many of us hesitate to tinker with perfection," says Cordialis Msora-Kasago, a Los Angeles-based registered dietitian nutritionist and a national spokesperson for the Academy. "I encourage my clients to experiment with cooking techniques and flavors to put their own healthy spin on family dishes."
"Try baking instead of frying your chicken or pork chops," Msora-Kasago says. "Look for ways to lighten up your dishes and enjoy the natural flavors of food."
"You don't have to forgo your favorite dishes in your quest for more healthful meals," Msora-Kasago says. "Consider swapping less healthful ingredients with more nutritious options."
Msora-Kasago offers the following tips:
Msora-Kasago's advice? "Experiment! "Cut the fat in potato salad by substituting half of the mayonnaise with plain non-fat Greek yogurt. Your family might not notice the difference. Simple swaps are key to making dishes healthier without sacrificing flavor."
"Liven up your family meals by trying new spices," Msora-Kasago says. "Use smoked paprika or a dash of smoked salt to add the smoked flavor that you would normally get from ham, bacon or salt pork. Consider using salt-free herb blends to lower the salt in your foods."
Experiment with different flavors by adding apple cider or rice vinegar to your greens or marinate your chicken in rosemary and lemon juice before grilling, Msora-Kasago says.
"Don't bury the natural sweetness of your sweet potatoes under a mound of marshmallows and sugar," Msora-Kasago says. "Add a little brown sugar and vanilla to make a lower-calorie version of candied yams."
"Eating right isn't a one-size-fits-all endeavor," Msora-Kasago says. "Healthy eating styles can be adapted to fit the foods of all cultures."