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Put Your Best Fork Forward

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With swimsuit weather getting closer and closer, a national campaign underway might just motivate you to put your best fork forward.

March is National Nutrition Month. It was created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The goal of the project is to encourage people to make informed food choices and develop better eating and physical habits.

Newswatch 16's Ryan Leckey served up this scoop on this year's campaign which is all about "Putting Your Best Fork Forward."

The hook surrounds making small shifts in our food, one forkful at a time.

The following information on changes to food labels, tips for healthier meals, and recipe ideas comes from the registered dietitians at Weis Markets:

Three ways to put your best fork forward to improve your eating habits, one bite at a time.

    1. At home: Incorporate more produce (in all forms—fresh, frozen, dried and canned) into everyday meals and snacks and have fun experimenting with new flavors and different preparation techniques. Fruits/vegetables are loaded with water and fiber for satiety, they offer a bounty of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to nourish your body and are relatively low in calories.Cook veggies in a new and different way. Vegetable noodles and ‘rice’ are a trendy, healthy and tasty way to add more vegetables to your plate.To eat more fruit, get on board with vibrant, visually appealing smoothie bowls.  A smoothie bowl is simply a blended smoothie that has a thick, creamy and ‘spoonable’ texture. Great for breakfast or a snack!
    2. On the run: Plan ahead to make healthier snack choices that will energize and fuel your body with the right stuff to feel your best. Snacks that pack protein and fiber help you to feel fuller, longer.Carry portable snacks like energy bites or a simple homemade trail mix of whole-grain cereal (squares or o’s), nuts, seeds, dried fruit and extras (mini dark chocolate chips, coconut flakes, pretzels, etc.)
    3. Dining out: Make simple swaps and eat mindfully. It’s about WHAT you eat and HOW you eat it.

WHAT: Plan ahead and view the restaurant menu in advance (if it’s available) to make a healthier choice. If you can’t view the menu online, share, order a smaller-sized appetizer and/or pack up half the meal to take home for later.

HOW: It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to get the message from your stomach that you are no longer hungry. Fast eaters often are overeaters, while slow, mindful eaters tend to eat less and are still satisfied.  Make sure to slow down, put your fork down between bites, savor the flavors of the foods you are eating and enjoy the company you are dining with, the atmosphere etc.

Calorie labeling on restaurant menus and vending machines can help you make informed and healthful decisions about meals and snacks.

In today’s busy world, Americans are eating and drinking about one-third of their calories away from home. Although consumers can find calories and other nutrition information on the Nutrition Facts label on packaged foods and beverages they buy in stores, this type of labeling is generally not available in restaurants or visible on food from vending machines.

That’s why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) new regulations requiring calorie information on restaurant menus and menu boards and on vending machines will be especially helpful for consumers.

To learn more about the FDA Menu Labeling requirement that goes into effect May 5, 2017, click here.

To connect with the Weis Dietitian team, email and make sure to pick up the current issue of HealthyBites Magazine in store or view it online.

Featured recipes from Newswatch 16 This Morning:

Spinach Parmesan Zoodles - Serves: 2

1 Tbsp. Weis Quality Pure Olive Oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (10-ounce) package fresh zucchini noodles
2 cups Weis Quality Baby Spinach
¼ cup Weis Five Star Shaved Parmesan Cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the zucchini noodles and spinach. Gently toss and cook until the zucchini noodles are an al dente texture and the spinach leaves are wilted about 5 minutes. Stir in ¼ cup Parmesan cheese and toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from heat and serve.

Cauliflower Rice - Serves: 2

1 large head cauliflower cut into 1-inch florets OR 14-ounces bag riced cauliflower
1.5 Tbsp Weis Quality Pure Olive Oil
½ medium onion, finely diced
¼ tsp salt
2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
Juice of ½ lemon (optional)

If using a head of cauliflower, trim the cauliflower florets, cutting away as much stem as possible. In a food processor, pulse the florets until the mixture is finely chopped and resembles the size of rice.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened and golden brown at the edges, about 5 minutes. Add the cauliflower and salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until the cauliflower has softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Spoon cauliflower rice into a serving bowl and garnish with parsley. Add lemon juice if desired. Serve warm.

Sesame Ginger Carrot Noodles - Serves: 2

1 Tbsp. sesame (or olive) oil
1 tsp. garlic minced
10 ounces fresh carrot noodles (or butternut squash)
1/2 cup Ken’s® Lite Asian Sesame with Ginger and Soy Dressing, plus more to taste
Black sesame seeds (optional garnish)

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add the carrot noodles, toss and cook until heated through or al dente, about 5-7 minutes. Garnish with sesame seeds, if desired.

Power Green Smoothie Bowl - Serves: 2

1 cup Weis Five Star Frozen Mango
1 kiwi, peeled and sliced
1 cup Weis Quality Baby Spinach, loosely packed
1 sliced and frozen banana
½ cup Weis Quality 100% Orange Juice
½ cup vanilla Greek or skyr yogurt
2 tsp. chia seeds
1 Tbsp. agave nectar
Optional Toppers: Raspberries, sliced almonds, kiwi slices, granola, chia seeds

Place the mango, kiwi, spinach, banana, juice, yogurt, chia seeds, and agave in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into individual bowls and garnish with your choice of optional toppings.

No-Bake Energy Bites - Makes: 25-30 bites (2 per serving)

1 cup old-fashioned oats
½ cup creamy or chunky peanut butter
½ cup ground flaxseed
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Give them a texture, flavor and a nutrient boost with up to 3 of these ingredients:

½ cup dried cherries, raisins, blueberries or cranberries
½ cup unsalted chopped almonds, pecans, walnuts, pistachios or peanuts
½ cup crushed whole-grain pretzels or cereal
½ cup dark chocolate chips
¼ cup coconut flakes

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and stir until well combined. Cover and refrigerate the mixture for about 30 minutes until chilled so it’s easier to shape. Using your hands or a cookie scoop, roll the mixture into 25-30 (1-inch) balls. Transfer them to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.