October 2006
Healthy Choices

Entice Your Tastebuds and Fight Breast Cancer, Too

You can pile the vegetables and fruits high on your plate and feel great that you did yourself a big, healthy favor for lunch. But what about dinner? And the next day’s meals? What you need is a rule-of-thumb for every meal that can lower risk of breast cancer and other diseases while tasting good, too.

A little rethinking of your plate is all it takes. AICR’s New American Plate is an easy model for healthy, delicious meals every day. Just fill 2/3 (or more) of your plate with plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans; and 1/3 (or less) of your plate with lean animal protein, such as meat, poultry, fish, or low-fat dairy products. Try to keep your portions reasonable, and you’ll be eating a diet that may help you prevent cancer, manage your weight and enjoy eating all at the same time.

Why Does The New American Plate Work?

A week's worth of sample menus

Vegetables and fruits have a high water content. That’s why you can eat plenty of them without getting too many calories. Eating lots of deeply colored vegetables and fruits also gets you the most health-protective compounds, called phytochemicals, along with vitamins and minerals. Here’s an example of how to bulk up your meals with more vegetables and fruits:

Your current lunch might contain a sandwich piled high with roast beef (about 8 ounces) on a sub roll, served with potato chips, and 2 cookies.

On the New American Plate, you can still have a roast beef sandwich, only limit the meat to 3 ounces.  (If you buy it from a deli, wrap the rest to use in a sandwich the next day.)  Then put extra vegetables on the sandwich tomato slices, pepper-rings, or romaine lettuce.  Use 100 percent whole-wheat bread. On the side, have some hearty three-bean salad and a crisp apple.

You have now converted your lunch into a meal that is 2/3 plant-based. Now let’s compare: The old plate contains 890 calories, 35 grams of fat (13 of which are artery- clogging saturated fat) and only 4 grams of fiber. The New American Plate has 367 calories, with 9 grams of fat (only 2 of them saturated), and 10 grams of fiber.

We’ve halved the calories, cut the fat by 2/3 and doubled the fiber. You can have your sandwich and enjoy it too − without feeling hungry and deprived.

The New American Plate includes at least 2 servings of vegetables with every meal, with fruit for dessert. At the end of the day, it ensures you’ve gotten your 5-10 servings of vegetables and fruit for lower risk of cancer and other diseases.

It’s a good idea to make the transition to the 2/3-1/3 proportions gradually. At first, limit the meat portion to 4-6 ounces and increase your vegetable servings and variety. Microwave some slices of sweet potato for a few minutes, then mash them with some cinnamon and apple juice while you are steaming some green beans drizzled with a few drops of lemon juice and olive oil, then sprinkled with thyme or parsley.

When you’re used to these changes, take another step. Reduce the meat portion to 3 ounces. Don’t worry about not getting enough protein. A 3-ounce serving supplies plenty of protein, and the larger servings that are so common provide far more than we need. Add a third vegetable perhaps cauliflower, yellow squash, snow peas, or carrots. Try a half-cup of whole grains, like brown rice, whole-wheat pasta or barley.

Trick Your Tastebuds

You can also sneak more vegetables and fruits into soups, stews, pasta sauces, casseroles, sandwiches, breakfast and snacks whenever possible.

Take the New American Plate version of meatloaf.  It contains ground turkey, beans, vegetables and even cranberries for a moist, filling and nutrition-packed treat. Plastic-wrap leftovers in individual serving sizes and refrigerate up to 4 days (or freeze them).

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Veggie-Turkey Loaf

2/3 cup canned Great Northern beans, rinsed, drained and mashed
3/4 lb. lean ground turkey
1/2 cup soft whole wheat bread crumbs (about l slice bread)
1 small carrot, peeled, ends trimmed, and minced
1/3 cup dried cranberries
3 Tbsp. minced scallion, white and green parts
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary leaves, crumbled
1/2 Tsp. ground sage
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp. ketchup (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. In large bowl, combine all meatloaf ingredients, except ketchup and parsley. Place mixture in 9x5-inch non-stick loaf pan. Bake 55 minutes hour, uncovered. If using ketchup, spread on loaf and return to oven for 5-10 more minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Cut into slices and serve.

Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 218 calories, 6 g total fat (1 g saturated fat), 26 g carbohydrates, 15 g protein, 3 g dietary fiber, 202 mg sodium.

For a week’s worth of sample menus, click here.

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