Guide to Balancing Your Meals

Published May 27, 2024
By Shelbi Thurau - Registered Dietitian

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Creating a balanced meal can be simple as 1-2-3! Incorporating lean proteins, filling carbohydrates and a variety of fruits and vegetables is all it takes to build a bowlful of benefits.

Lean Protein: The Powerhouse of Your Plate

Lean protein tends to be the star of the show and for good reason. Protein promotes satiety and when eaten with carbohydrates it can help with managing blood glucose. Having freezer-friendly proteins like ground chicken or turkey meatballs, shrimp and fish filets are perfect for busy weeknights and can be cooked in the air-fryer or stove-top in a few minutes. Plant-based proteins like tofu and edamame are also great choices. Think about fill ¼ to a 1/3 of your plate with your lean protein of choice.

Complex Carbs: Fueling Your Body for Energy

Carbohydrates can confuse a lot of people but they are an important part of your plate. Complex carbohydrates like whole grains, starchy vegetables and legumes contain tons of fiber and nutrients that make them filling and good for gut health. Your individual energy needs will determine quantity but when included fiber-rich and nutrient dense grains like farro, quinoa and grain and seed breads with protein pairings you will find yourself feeling fuller and with more energy to tackle the day.

Fruits and Veggies: The More Colorful, the Better

When it comes to fruits and veggies the more the merrier! Truly bulking up your bowls and plates with any number of colorful produce choices is a great habit for your health and well-being. If you find it difficult to get in the necessary amount of produce, try simplifying the prep with pre-washed bagged salad and pre-cut veggies you can find in your produce section. You can also integrate frozen vegetable blends and canned veggies that you rinse and drain. Mix them into your grains or pile the protein on top for delicious meals.

Flavorful Touches: Turning Ordinary into Extraordinary

Tie this 1-2-3 approach together with flavor. Having a handful of spice blends to flavor your proteins with or sauces and dressings that you can mix into stir-fry or use as dips can turn ordinary foods into extraordinary favorites. Just be mindful of portions using 1-2 tablespoons and check-out the variety of lower sodium and sugar choices on the shelves!