Color codes for eating right

March 5, 2011 7:09:07 AM PST
March is busy like a bustling kitchen when it comes to food.

It is National Nutrition Month and March 9 marks Registered Dietitian Day and the beginning of Lent. Add to that a new color-coding system to help you make the right food choices!

Melissa Dobbins, registered dietitian with Evanston NorthShore Hospital and a spokesperson for the Illinois Dietetic Association, visited the ABC7 studio to give us nutrition tips that are easy and fun to incorporate into our daily diets.

Here are the color categories from the American Dietetic Association:

Grains (Orange)
Use whole-grain or oat bread for sandwiches.
Opt for oat or whole-wheat cereal for breakfast.
Substitute brown rice for white rice in favorite recipes.
Add whole barley to soups and stews or bulgur wheat to salads and casseroles.
When looking for whole-grain choices, make sure the label says "100 percent whole grain" and the ingredient label says "whole" before the grain listed.

Fruits (Red)
Start your day by adding sliced fruit to your cereal or on top of whole-grain waffles or pancakes.
Add fruit to salads. This boosts nutrition and adds texture and taste. Add orange slices or strawberries to spinach salads or toss grapes into a mixed green salad.
For dessert, add sliced bananas, berries or peaches to non-fat yogurt or as a topper on angel food cake.
Dried fruit makes a handy snack and can be equally as nutritious as fresh. However, be mindful of serving sizes.

Oils (Yellow)
Used in cooking and baking as well as for flavor, oils are fats that are liquid at room temperature. There are a variety of oils that come from many different plants. Common types include: canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, soybean, sunflower, walnut and sesame oils.

Milk (Blue)
Low-fat cheese in a sandwich
Yogurt dips with vegetables
Low-fat shredded cheese on soups and salads
Evaporated low-fat or fat-free milk in recipes that call for cream.

Meat and Beans (Purple)
Choose lean cuts of meat. Look for words like loin or round in the description.
To prepare lean cuts of meat, try broiling, grilling, roasting, panbroiling, braising, stewing or stir-frying.
Choose fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce your risk of heart disease and may help reduce the inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis.