Rita Hodges

Extension service

According to the American Dietetic Association, to get the most nutrition out of your calories, choose foods packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients-and lower in calories.

Pick fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat-free or low-fat dairy more often. Be aware of portion sizes. Even low-calorie foods can add up when portions are larger than you need.

1. Variety abounds when using vegetables as pizza topping. Try broccoli, spinach, green peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms and zucchini.

2. Get saucy with fruit: Puree berries, apples, peaches or pears for a thick, sweet sauce on grilled or broiled seafood or poultry or on pancakes, French toast or waffles.

3. Mix a breakfast smoothie made with low-fat milk, frozen strawberries and a banana.

4. Heat leftover whole-grain rice with chopped apple, nuts and cinnamon.

5. Make a veggie wrap with roasted vegetables and low-fat cheese rolled in a whole-wheat tortilla.

6. Try crunchy vegetables instead of chips with your favorite dip or low-fat salad dressing.

7. Grill colorful vegetable kabobs packed with tomatoes, green and red peppers, mushrooms and onions.

8. Banana split: top a sliced banana with low-fat frozen yogurt. Sprinkle with a tablespoon of chopped nuts.

9. Add color to salads with baby carrots, grape tomatoes, spinach leaves or mandarin oranges.

10. Prepare instant oatmeal with low-fat or fat-free milk in place of water. Top with dried cranberries and almonds.

11. Stuff an omelet with vegetables. Turn any omelet into a hearty meal with broccoli, squash, carrots, peppers, tomatoes or onions with low-fat sharp cheddar cheese.

12. “Sandwich” in fruits and vegetables. Add pizzazz to sandwiches with sliced pineapple, apple, peppers, cucumbers and tomato as fillings.

13. Wake up to fruit. Make a habit of adding fruit to your morning oatmeal, ready-to-eat cereal, yogurt or toaster waffle.

14. Stock up: fill your refrigerator with raw vegetables and fruits – “nature’s fast food” – cleaned, fresh and ready to eat.

15. Top a baked potato with beans and salsa or broccoli and low-fat cheese.

16. Microwave a cup of tomato or vegetable soup for a quick afternoon snack.

17. “Grate” complement: Add grated, shredded or chopped vegetables such as zucchini, spinach and carrots to lasagna, meat loaf, mashed potatoes, pasta sauce and rice dishes.

18. Stuff a whole grain pita with ricotta cheese and Granny Smith apple slices. Add a dash of cinnamon.

19. Make your main dish a salad of dark, leafy greens and other colorful vegetables. Add chickpeas or edamame (fresh soybeans). Top with a low-fat dressing.

20. Try the popcorn recipe below for an easy, health snack. Popcorn is a whole grain.

POPCORN DELIGHT (1 serving)

3 cups popped fat-free unsalted popcorn

1 tablespoon sliced almonds

2 tablespoons raisins or other dried fruit such as cranberries, apricots or dates

˝ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon sugar

In a medium bowl, combine the ingredients and toss well.

Nutrition Facts per Serving:

Calories:        230

Fat: 7 g

Saturated fat: 1 g

Carbohydrates: 39 g

Fiber:     6 g

Protein: 6 g

Sodium: 274 mg

For more information, contact Rita M. Hodges, county extension agent for family and consumer sciences, 701 S. Interstate 35E, Suite 3, Waxahachie; call 972-825-5175; or e-mail rmhodges@ag.tamu.edu.