Guest post by Caitlin Marek
University of Texas Southwestern Clinical Dietetic Intern
You may think that dietitians (and future dietitians) have it all together when it comes to healthy eating. I can’t speak for dietitians, since I am not one yet, but I can speak as a student in training to become one- eating healthy is a lot of work, and creating healthy eating habits is even more work. So, I would like to give you a few tips that I have started practicing and give you a way to apply those tips to a typical American dish.
Healthy Eating As Easy As 1-2-3
First, I would like to define healthy eating as eating food that makes your body feel good, rather than food that drags you down. At the end of the day, it’s your choice which foods you eat. We are all on our own journey with the food we eat; my journey is going to look a lot different from yours and yours from mine. But don’t forget, eating healthy is about the journey not the destination!
If you want to learn more about how to eat a balanced meal you can love, here are a few tips that I have started to practice:
1. What are foods you love?
My husband and I always have three things at our home: peanut butter, milk and frozen vegetables.
2. Find recipes or ideas you like that include your staples.
I buy apples to eat with peanut butter for a snack, and I cook the vegetables with many different recipes my husband and I love.
3. Tailor your meals to match MyPlate (pictured below).
MyPlate is a guide to balancing your meals. Striving to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, a fourth with grains (particularly whole grains), and a fourth with protein will help you find a way to eat healthier with the foods you love and feel full afterwards.
Spinach and Artichoke Pizza Recipe
I love pizza, especially homemade pizza because seeing the dough rise can feel so rewarding! Pizza is a meal I think many of us can relate on, so I wanted to share a homemade spinach and artichoke pizza recipe to show that even pizza can be fit to MyPlate. I’ll let you in on a secret – you don’t have to stop eating pizza to eat healthy. Isn’t that great news?
The key to pizza and to other starch-heavy meals, such as spaghetti, is to add a salad or a bowl of vegetables on the side to balance your plate. If you don’t remember anything I’ve said already, remember this – you don’t have to include every food group (protein, starch, vegetables, fruits, and dairy) with every meal. It is recommended to include at least 3 different food groups in each meal, while consuming every food group daily. You set your plate up for success when you strive to get all five food groups with almost every meal.
Spinach and Artichoke Homemade Pizza
Yields: 1 large pizza
1¼ cups white flour
1 cup of warm water
½ tsp salt
2¼ tsp yeast
1? cups of whole wheat flour
2 Tbsps of olive oil
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1¾ cup of Italian cheese (mix of part skim mozzarella, parmesan)
1 cup of baby spinach
¼ cup of onions
¼ cup of bell peppers
1 large tomato, sliced
1¼ cups of quartered artichoke hearts, canned in water
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine all-purpose flour, yeast and salt. Add the oil and warm water to the flour mixture and mix with an electric mixer. Mix on a high speed until a soft, elastic dough forms.
- By hand, stir in the wheat flour slowly. Once you have mixed in the last of the wheat flour, knead the bread until a soft ball forms.
- Set the bowl with the dough in a warm place and cover the bowl with a dish towel. The dough should rise in about 10-15 minutes.
- Before removing the risen dough from the bowl, clear a flat surface to roll the dough out and sprinkle flour on it. Place the dough on the flat surface and roll it out.
- Place rolled out dough on a pizza pan and brush olive oil over the entire surface.
- Spread the minced garlic over the top, following a ¾ cup of Italian cheese.
- Add the spinach, tomato slices and artichoke hearts and sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of Italian cheese on top.
- Place pizza in the oven (375°) for about 10-15 minutes, or until brown. You can also broil the pizza for two minutes after it is done baking so that the bread and cheese are slightly crispy.
- Enjoy your homemade meal!
Caitlin Marek is in the process of earning a Master’s in Clinical Nutrition from UT Southwestern Medical Center with the goal of becoming a Registered Dietitian. Before attending UT Southwestern, Caitlin earned her Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry at Texas A&M University and now resides in Dallas with her husband, Kevin.