Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Confetti Quesadillas Illustrate Flexible Nutrition Philosophy

Yesterday I had a wonderful opportunity to be the guest blogger on the Fed Up With School Lunch blog. I received an almost universally positive response to my positive post about School Meals That Rock - using this beautiful lunch from Lolo, Montana, as an example.

For those of you who wondered about the recipe for the Confetti Quesadillas, I have some great news. You can download a family-size version of Confetti Quesadillas with Cilantro Yogurt Dip from the National Dairy Council website. I am sharing this recipe to illustrate two key features of my personal nutrition philosophy.

The first, of course, is that the food looks and sounds delicious. IMHO, this is the most important hurdle that any food must pass. It doesn't really matter how healthful something is. If it doesn't satisfy our taste buds, it won't become part of our regular eating style. The key - in both schools and homes - is that we learn how to combine great taste and good health on every plate.

The second pillar of my personal view of nutrition is that there are many different healthful eating styles. Some folks zealously promote a particular diet as the one and only truly nutritious way to eat. And, these "perfect diets" are all over the map - only low-fat, high-fiber foods ... only full-fat dairy foods with no grains ... only plant foods with no animals products at all ... only raw foods ... only foods grown organically within 100 miles of being consumed. In fact, any of these eating styles can be healthful - if you pay attention and get all the 70+ nutrients needed by the human body.

The problem, however, is that some of these paths to nutrition and health aren't practical for everyone - depending on our budget or where we live. And, some of them don't fit with our lifestyles, our cultural food preferences, or our religious beliefs.

So, there are lots of different ways to eat healthfully - and you can adapt any recipe or menu to fit your preferences, without trying to force your beliefs on everyone else. Take this recipe as an example. Here are six ways to adapt it to your personal eating style:
  • Prefer full-fat cheese? Substitute your favs ... I might use a sharp Cheddar plus a fresh mozzarella.
  • Not into corn? Use whole grain tortillas instead ... we have some great local multi-grain ones available now.
  • Don't like cilantro? How about some other seasonal green? Fresh baby spinach? A little arugula? Maybe basil from your window box of herbs?
  • Prefer local foods? Switch up the veggies ... use whatever is in season from your garden or farmer's market.
  • Not into spicy food? Skip the jalapeno pepper ... and use a variety of colorful sweet peppers instead.
  • Missing some meat in your quesadilla? Cut back a bit on the cheese ... and add smoked turkey, sauteed chicken, or some leftover grilled steak.
Hummmmmm ... might be time for my lunch! How do I want my Confetti Quesadilla today?

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