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Out with the pyramid, in with the plate!

March 21, 2012

Many of us remember learning the food pyramid in elementary school with different colorful sections denoting the different types of food groups. In 2010 the USDA changed the dietary guidelines for healthy eating to a new circular plate meant to give us a fast, easily grasped reminder of the basics of a healthy diet.Instead of being bogged down with stair-stepping and stumbling over how many servings we have or haven’t eaten, the food plate makes it easier to concentrate on meal-planning as a whole. For example, did you know that each of us, individually, has different nutritional needs? The plate divides fruit, grains, vegetables, and protein into the amounts we should eat, based on age, gender, and levels of activity. The new plate and interactive tools will help families to track their nutritional intake and ultimately to be healthier and live longer.Regardless of whether the recommendations are displayed as a triangle or a circle, vegetables are still on the menu and still a big part of recommended dietary guidelines. If you look closely, you'll notice that vegetables are actually the largest portion of the plate. Healthy vegetables include raw, fresh, cooked, frozen, dried, and canned.  There are five basic subgroups of vegetables.Dark Green Vegetables: such as collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, and spinach.Red and Orange Vegetables: such as sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, orange squashes, and tomatoes.Beans and Peas: such as  black-eyes peas, black beans, navy beans, and kidney beans.Starchy Vegetables: such as  potatoes, corn, and field peas, and black-eyed peas.Other Vegetables: such as okra, turnips, cabbage, cauliflower, zucchini, and cucumbers.If you haven't already, be sure to check out the interactive tools included with the plate. How much or how many do YOU need to eat at meal-time to maintain a healthy lifestyle? It's all in there. And the answer may surprise you.  (If it does, please let us know!)The new food plate makes it easy to plan both meals and shopping.  To find out more, go to

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