The year was 1992. Liz got married, Janice welcomed her daughter Carolyn into the world, and the government released the Food Guide Pyramid designed to help Americans eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Almost 20 years later, the Pyramid has been sent into, what some might argue, a long-overdue retirement. Today, at a press conference in Washington DC, First Lady Michelle Obama, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and Surgeon General Regina Benjamin unveiled the USDA’s new food guidance icon, MyPlate. According to Mrs. Obama, the plate is useful and straight forward, and it’s so simple that kids can use it now and for the rest of their lives.
We’re pleased with the new icon and the companion website, ChooseMyPlate.gov. Vegetables and fruits get top billing, though we continue to wonder why the government does not subsidize them to the same degree they subsidize wheat, corn, and soy. We’d love to see a significant drop in the price of fresh fruits and veggies! Also on the plate are sections for grains and protein. The blue circle illustrates calcium-rich milk, yogurt, and other dairy foods, a symbol vegans or those with allergies may have a hard time swallowing.
The website serves up a plateful of helpful information … everything from foods to increase such as whole grains to foods to decrease (i.e. drink water instead of sugary drinks), and tips for balancing calories by avoiding over-sized portions. We’re hopeful MyPlate adds fuel to efforts already underway across the country to help families maintain a healthy body weight and choose a diet filled with nutrient-rich foods.
For Janice, the Pyramid’s retirement is bittersweet. In 2005, her dad created this beautiful stained glass window for her office to celebrate the release of our first cookbook, The Moms’ Guide to Meal Makeovers. Perhaps this summer, Mr. Newell will surprise Janice with a new stained glass plate!
The timing of today’s unveiling is perfect. With backyard vegetable gardens in bloom, farmers’ markets popping up in more and more communities across the country, and a greater abundance of affordable, locally grown-produce at the supermarket, filling your plate with more produce should be a bit easier. Below, we share a recipe for collard greens … a leafy green veggie packed with vitamins K, A, and C (to name just a few)!
Liz was recently in Atlanta for the BlogHer Food conference (blog post forthcoming) where she had an opportunity to tour the Sweet Auburn Curb Market. There were plenty of sights to savor including this table piled high with collar greens. The giant bouquets of greens inspired Liz to cook up a recipe for Greens with Raisins and Pine Nuts from The Foods and Wines of Spain by Penelope Casas. All of her boys (hubby, Tim, and sons, Josh and Simon) enjoyed this side dish so much that she made it twice last week alone!
Greens with Raisins and Pine Nuts
Makes 4 Servings (adapted from The Foods and Wines of Spain)
- 3 tablespoons raisins
- 1 pound collard greens or Swiss chard, thick stems removed (weight after trimming)
- Kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons minced onion
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts (Liz used slivered almonds)
- Freshly ground black pepper
1. Soak the raisins in warm water while preparing the greens.
2. Place the greens in boiling water for 5 minutes; drain. Return the greens to the pot, cover with water, add a few pinches of salt, and 1 tablespoon of the oil. Return to a boil and cook 10 minutes, or until tender. Drain well and chop coarsely.
3. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the garlic and onion until the onion is wilted. Add the greens and the raisins, drained, the nuts, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook 5 minutes. The greens may be eaten right away, but gain in flavor when left several hours and then reheated.
What do you think of the new MyPlate icon? We’d love to hear your thoughts! And if you’d like to read what other registered dietitians (RDs) across the country have to say about MyPlate, visit Janet Helm’s blog, Nutrition Unplugged for a roundup.