A RED, White & Blue 4th of July
By Sharon Palmer, RD, author of Plant-Powered for Life
Most traditional, cultural diets—whether from Peru or Asia—are based on plants. Even in our own country, our diet once gravitated more towards plants. My mother, who grew up in Arkansas, enjoyed a wholesome plant-based diet; a typical meal was black-eyed peas, foraged greens, roasted tomatoes, and cornbread. It’s amazing to think about how far we’ve strayed away from a plant-centric diet in the United States in recent years.
Now when we think about most foods in the “Western diet,” we tend to think of foods characterized by large amounts of animal products, and few whole plant foods. It’s no surprise that this eating style has been linked with our current epidemic of chronic disease and obesity.
But there’s good news.
Many of America’s favorite foods can be made by better-tasting and better-for-you by piling on America’s favorite condiments – tomato products, including salsa, ketchup, and tomato sauce.
So healthy are tomato products that high intakes have been associated with important health benefits, including reduced risk of certain chronic diseases, such as heart disease and some forms of cancer, according to a 2012 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. And the best part is that there’s no need to break the bank to redeem the health benefits associated with tomato products. According to the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, tomato juices and tomato soups, carrots, and broccoli all scored the highest Nutrient Rich Foods (NRF) index per dollar. NRF is based on nine nutrients to encourage: protein; fiber; vitamins A, C, and E; calcium; iron; magnesium; and potassium; and on three nutrients to limit: saturated fat, added sugar, and sodium.
So, this 4th of July, invite over some friends and celebrate good health with this simple, nutritious red, white, and blue appetizer, made better by tomato products!
Red, White & Blue Salsa Cups
1 12-ounce can of salsa
16 ounces of non-fat plain Greek yogurt (2, 8-ounce containers)or vegan sour cream (recipe here)
1 package of blue corn tortilla chips
16 plastic cups
- In each plastic cup, layer ~ ¼ cup of non-fat Greek yogurt, followed by 2 tablespoons salsa.
- Garnish with two tortilla chips.
- Store in the refrigerator until serving and serve with chips.
Makes around 6-8 individual dips.
Sharon Palmer, The Plant-Powered Dietitian™ is a writer and author of The Plant-Powered Diet. Over 850 of her articles have been published in national publications, including Prevention, Better Homes and Gardens and Today’s Dietitian. She is also the editor of the award-winning publication Environmental Nutrition and writes for her blog, The Plant-Powered Blog. Her specific expertise is in plant-based nutrition, including Mediterranean, vegetarian and vegan diets.Her second book, Plant-Powered For Life: Eat Your Way to Lasting Health with 52 Simple Steps and 125 Delicious Recipesis available for purchase now.