As a dietitian, National Nutrition Month ® is near and dear to my heart. March is generally a rough month for some Michiganders because by now many of us are ready for that snow to melt and spring to come on in. That said, March is also a great time of the year to check in on your nutritional status and health goals you had on your mind back in January.
The theme for this year’s campaign is, “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right.” What a perfect motto! Do you agree that you can enjoy the tastes of eating right? I certainly believe you can. It’s all about finding what tastes good to YOU.
That said, Michigan’s locally famous crops’ holds some of the greatest tastes to add to our daily diets that can easily fit into any nutritious lifestyle. Did you know that Michigan is the second most agriculturally diverse state in the nation? We even have a state soil, if you weren’t aware, called “Kalkaska” soil, which covers 750,000 acres in both the upper and lower peninsulas.
So how can we as Michiganders celebrate nutrition this month? Check out the wide variety of goods and products that we as a state excel in and incorporate them into your daily or weekly meal plans.
- Cherries – Michigan is the national leader in the production of tart cherries. With their abundance of nutrients like potassium and antioxidants these gems are a great choice to have on hand at snack time.
- Michigan Vernor’s brand ginger ale- made with real ginger – I don’t typically recommend soda as apart of anyone’s diet but since Vernor’s originated in Detroit, Michigan I had to include it in the list. Ginger is a natural anti-nausea root. If you haven’t sipped on this when your stomach hurt as a child, try ginger chews now to help with stomachaches.
- Beans – Did you know that we have a Michigan Bean Festival? We’re in second for beans, carrots and celery production against the Nation. Beans are natural plant source of protein and fiber, consider having a “meatless Monday” and consume beans as your protein source instead of an animal protein.
- Apples – Were you wondering when I’d bring up apples? In 2011 we ranked 3rd in the nation for apple production at 985 million pounds (source)! With the weather affecting our crop last year, we can only hope that things go smoothly for our farmers this year so we have an abundance of apples to pick. Did you miss the apple based granola bar recipe from last month? Click here to dig in.
- Cheese- Think cheese and you may think of Wisconsin’s cheese curds, but we too have a plethora of natural cheeses here to choose from. In Muskegon, we even have the Cheese Lady. She say’s, “My favorite cheeses might not be yours. Your favorite cheeses may not be mine. But in the thousands of cheeses out there we both can find one that makes us smile.”
- Beer –Not a must have for everyone, but if you’re like me and you do happen to enjoy kicking back with a beer, go local and start searching through the 100 plus number of Michigan breweries popping up all over the state. Everything in moderation, right?
- Maple syrup – I definitely support eating pancakes ;) and if you need to add a little bit of sweetness, go natural with one of our many Pure Michigan Maple Syrups.
- Brand names: Garden Fresh, Jiffy, Pioneer Sugar, Kelloggs (think Corn Flakes, Special K, Nutri-Grain), and Yoplait. Nothing wrong with supporting local brands that started in our home state and possibly your own neighborhood! What other brands do you know that began here?
- Fish – Last but certainly not least, we are blessed in Michigan to be surrounded by water. Hello, we’re the Great Lake State! Fish is an excellent lean source of protein that will add important healthy fats that may help prevent heart disease. You’ve got nothing to lose!
What other ways can you celebrate National Nutrition Month?
- Create a nutrition question of the day in the workplace; draw a daily prize winner from those who provided the correct answer and have prizes like cooking utensils
- Have a contest in the work place of who can eat the most or the most variety of fruits and vegetables throughout the month. Have daily, weekly or a monthly winners
- Plan a cooking demo or nutrition event. You might ask to get a local Michigander chef and/or dietitian willing to come in, demonstrate a quick healthy meal and provide some nutrition information with a recipe card at the end.
Whether you’re celebrating the month by enhancing your diet with fruits and vegetables, new sources of protein, or adding spices to your meals…do it with some Michigan flare! Choose local products that are easily obtainable, great in flavor, and start experimenting with taste more.
How are YOU celebrating National Nutrition Month? Cheers! –Jessi B, RD