What does a balanced meal look like? Chicken breast, brown rice, broccoli, an apple, and a glass of milk? Sure, this is what a balanced meal can look like – it has protein, grains, vegetables, fruits, and dairy – but eating balanced doesn’t have to be boring or bland. Add spices and seasoning to increase flavor; marinate your meat; enjoy a fruit salad; make a soup or a stir fry meal!

Soup is a Great Choice!

Soup is a great dish that can incorporate an entire balanced meal into one bowl. Slow Cooker Harvest Beef Stew is a simple soup that is packed with nutrients and resembles a very balanced meal. The peas, russet potatoes and sweet potatoes are the starch, carrots, onion, tomatoes count as a serving of vegetables, bottom round beef roast is a leaner cut of meat and provides plenty of protein. Top your soup with some low fat cheese to count as a dairy choice and have a side of fruit to round out a jam packed balanced meal!

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Tips for Creating a Balanced Meal

When picking items from each food group, variety is important. Use these tips to make eating healthy, balances meals a breeze!

  1. If picking a starchy vegetable (i.e., potatoes), leave out the grains and pick a non-starchy vegetable (i.e. broccoli) to accompany the meal.
  2. The loin and round cuts of beef and pork are leaner choices, while chicken and turkey are a naturally lean, easy option to use.
  3. Try making half of the grains you eat whole grains. There is still room for bread and pasta, but focusing on making half whole grains will increase fiber and help lower cholesterol.
  4. To decrease sodium, use plenty of spices such as thyme, basil, parsley, and more! The options seem endless! Most spices are made with no additives and add tons of flavor without extra sodium or calories.

Balanced meals shouldn’t be boring or bland. For more recipe ideas, look on the American Heart Association website for a wide variety of balanced, delicious choices!

 

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Sarah Kalkhoff

Hy-Vee Dietetic Intern