Taking National Nutrition Month International: Incorporating Foods from Different Cultures

As we celebrate National Nutrition Month, it's an opportune time to explore the diverse array of foods and culinary traditions from around the world. While focusing on local and seasonal ingredients is crucial for promoting health and sustainability, incorporating foods from different cultures into our diets can add variety, flavor, and nutritional benefits. As a Registered Dietitian at Jefferson County Health Center (JCHC), I'm passionate about helping individuals embrace global cuisine as part of a balanced and culturally rich approach to nutrition. Here are some tips for taking National Nutrition Month international and incorporating foods from different cultures into your diet:

1. Explore Ethnic Markets and Grocery Stores:

One of the best ways to discover new ingredients and flavors is by visiting ethnic markets and grocery stores in your area. These establishments often carry a wide range of authentic products, including spices, grains, legumes, and fresh produce specific to various cuisines. Take the opportunity to explore different aisles and ask the store staff for recommendations on how to incorporate these ingredients into your meals.

2. Try New Recipes from Around the World:

Expand your culinary repertoire by experimenting with recipes from different cultures. Explore cookbooks, cooking websites, and cooking shows that feature international cuisines. Choose recipes that highlight nutritious ingredients such as vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. Cooking meals from scratch allows you to control the quality and quantity of ingredients while experiencing the rich flavors and aromas of global cuisine.

3. Incorporate a Variety of Herbs and Spices:

Herbs and spices are essential components of many culinary traditions and can elevate the flavor profile of dishes without adding extra calories or sodium. Experiment with spices like turmeric, cumin, paprika, and coriander in savory dishes, and use herbs like cilantro, mint, basil, and dill to add freshness to salads, soups, and sauces. Not only do herbs and spices enhance the taste of food, but they also provide a range of health benefits due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

4. Include Plant-Based Proteins:

Many cultures around the world incorporate plant-based proteins such as beans, lentils, tofu, and tempeh into their traditional dishes. These foods are rich in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals while being lower in saturated fat and cholesterol compared to animal-based proteins. Experiment with meatless meals inspired by cuisines like Indian, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Asian, where legumes and soy products are staples of the diet.

5. Embrace Whole Grains and Ancient Grains:

Whole grains are a cornerstone of healthy eating patterns and are central to many traditional diets worldwide. Explore the world of whole grains by incorporating options like quinoa, farro, bulgur, barley, and brown rice into your meals. These grains are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, providing sustained energy and promoting digestive health. Swap refined grains for whole grains in recipes such as pilafs, salads, stir-fries, and grain bowls.

6. Share Cultural Experiences with Others:

Food has the power to bring people together and foster cultural understanding and appreciation. Host a multicultural potluck where friends and family can share dishes from their heritage or explore a new cuisine together. Engage in conversations about the cultural significance of food and the traditions associated with mealtime practices. By sharing cultural experiences through food, we can celebrate diversity and promote inclusivity in our communities.

In conclusion, taking National Nutrition Month international involves embracing the rich tapestry of global cuisines and incorporating foods from different cultures into our diets. By exploring ethnic markets, trying new recipes, experimenting with herbs and spices, including plant-based proteins, embracing whole grains, and sharing cultural experiences with others, we can expand our culinary horizons while nourishing our bodies and souls. Let's celebrate the diversity of flavors and traditions that make food a universal language of health and happiness.


Looking for more help in following a nutritious diet? Talk to your Primary Care Provider about dietitian services. Be sure to check with your insurance company to see if dietitian services are covered. Then talk to your Primary Care Provider about a referral. For questions about dietician services, call 641-469-4245.


Click the link below to view the recipe.

Kung Pao Tofu





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