Celebrating cultures through food – Cross Timbers Gazette | Denton County South | mound of flowers

By Christina Fakhoury, Extension Officer – Better Living for Texans

Each year in March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics celebrates National Nutrition Month. This year’s theme is “Celebrate a World of Flavor” and focuses on celebrating foods and flavors from different cultures around the world.

Think of a family recipe passed down from generation to generation. Positive memories are often associated with our family meals or our ingredients.

In its most convenient form, food provides our bodies with the nutrients needed to stay healthy; however, food can be an expression of our cultural identity. Our favorite dishes, ingredients, spices, or cooking methods may represent traditions, beliefs, and practices from various regions, ethnicities, and religions.

Traditionally, cultural foods have been considered unhealthy; however, we know that there are a variety of foods available to us that are tasty and nutritious for our bodies.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 provide a framework that gives each of us the space to tailor our diets based on our personal preferences, medical history, budget, and culture. Rather than omitting cultural foods you love, consider how to make them healthier with these suggestions.

  • Pay attention to portion sizes and eat a variety of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, protein and dairy products.
  • Eat more unsaturated fats like olive or canola oil, avocados, nuts and seeds.
  • Use a variety of cooking methods like steaming, baking, roasting and barbecuing. These cooking methods use less fat than frying.
  • Reduce salt and sugar intake by using different spices and herbs. Examples include chili powder, curry powder, nutmeg, lemongrass, and cilantro found in many grocery stores.

From Japanese cuisine to West African dish, Tex-Mex tacos and soul food, remember that there is room at the table for all types of food! This month, celebrate a world of flavors and try a new food that you may be less familiar with!

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